With a pair of Promoters Test Sessions and another two practice sessions on Friday, Blue Marble Radical Cup North America competitors returned to the track Saturday for qualifying and the first wheel-to-wheel action of the Championship Finale weekend. With qualifying to set the grid for race one, drivers would hit the track mid-morning for the ever-important timed session as they all looked to get a step up on their competition.
Aiming to finish the season strong, Esses Racing Judd Miller topped the Platinum Class results sheets in qualifying ahead of championship point leader Steve Jenks and Scott Wagner. Gregg Gorski took the pole position in the Pro 1500 class edging Palmer Miller who leads the current 1500 point standings while Will Lin slotted into third. Austin Riley began his official competition on the right foot earning the pole position and will take his championship lead into the first corner from the inside of the front row in the Pro 1340 class. Reid Stewart slotted himself into second, ahead of championship contender Mike Anzaldi in third.
1. Judd Miller (Esses Racing/Radical Texas) – 1m33.111s
2. Steve Jenks (Group-A Racing/Audien Hearing)
3. Scott Wagner (Scott Wagner Racing/Scott Wagner Integrated Medicine)
4. Jim Booth (Wisko Racing/McDonald’s)
5. Jason Greenwood (Ryno Racing/AMI Information Systems)
1. Gregg Gorski (One Motorsports/Smokebuddy) – 1m34.085s
2. Palmer Miller (Esses Racing/Radical Texas)
3. Will Lin (One Motorsports/Rise)
4. Aurora Straus (Group-A Racing/Richard Mille/Arch Capital)
5. Joe Nuxoll (Radical Northwest/Cameron Racing)
1. Austin Riley (Racing With Autism/SparkPower/Lincoln Electric) – 1m36.297s
2. Reid Stewart (Group-A Racing/Fasano Textiles)
3. Mike Anzaldi *Ryno Racing/Emmett’s Energy)
4. Brendan Wright (Radical Northwest/Cameron Racing)
Steve Jenks put a stamp of approval in his quest for the Platinum class championship scoring the race one win by nearly three seconds over pole position winner, Judd Miller. It was Jim Booth who joined Jenks and Miller on the podium after the twenty-two-lap race disposing of Scott Wagner who qualified on the inside of the second row in the Platinum class but fell to fourth on the results sheets. Charles Finelli (Fat Boy Racing) showed speed early but was forced to retire on lap thirteen in his Radical Cup debut but will return Sunday for another two chances to fight for a podium result. With the race one result, Jenks extended his point lead and is a lock for the series crown.
Female driver Aurora Straus was not the fastest driver in race one for the Pro 1500 class but rose to the occasion to score her first victory of the season for both her and Group-A Racing becoming the first female driver ever to win in Radical Cup competition around the world. Starting fourth on the grid, Straus methodically worked her way to the second before pole position winner Gregg Gorski was forced to retire on lap seventeen with a mechanical issue opening the door for Aurora to take a dominating win. Esses Racing driver Palmer Miller strengthened his championship position finishing second on track but ahead of the drivers he needed to beat to make a run at the title. Leveling up three positions in race action, Ron Fletcher (Ryno Racing/BeachHouse858.com) improved on his sixth starting spot to nab the third and final step on the podium, just ahead of Will Lin, who narrowly beat Joe Nuxoll to the checkered flag by a scant 0.002s. After the conclusion of the first race, Palmer Miller increased his point lead with two races remaining tomorrow.
“I am super excited to win and to make history as the first female to win in Radical Cup competition worldwide,” explained Straus post-race. “I couldn’t have done it without everyone around me, my sponsors, and my team Group-A. It’s not the way we would have liked to win but we’ve still got two chances tomorrow to win it outright and I know we have the speed to do it.”
It was a dramatic Pro 1340 race as championship leaders Austin Riley and Mike Anzaldi was out of the race shortly after the green flag flew. Despite their friendship and off-track sim battles, the pair were heated after first lap contact caused extensive damage to their respective machines. Riley would eventually be classified in the third position and extended his point lead while Anzaldi was left wondering if his car can be repaired for races two and three tomorrow. Reid Stewart and Brandon Wright were the benefactors of the Riley and Anzaldi contact as they went uncontested to finish first and second in class. This was Reid Stewart’s first Blue Marble Radical Cup North America win and one that he has been chasing for quite some time. Following the race and speaking to both Austin Riley and Mike Anzaldi, both drivers have backup cars to race tomorrow if needed.
With the first day of racing complete, it was Group-A Racing that dominated scoring wins in all three classes.
With two additional wheel-to-wheel races tomorrow, the championship picture has become a little clearer. Blue Marble Radical Cup competitors will return to the track Sunday for race two and three on the weekend with the first green flag at 10:00am PST with the final race of the season rolling off the grid at 1:35pm PST.
To stay up to date with news, information, photos, and results from the Blue Marble Radical Cup North America event weekend, please be sure to follow along via their social media pages by searching Radical Cup North America.