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NASA Championships Presented By Toyo Tires Saturday Winners
Posted by: newsla on Sep 09, 2012 - 06:20 AM
Sports Cars
NASA Championships Presented By Toyo Tires Saturday Winners

The National Auto Sport Association (NASA) awarded Championship trophies in 11 classes today at the NASA Championships presented by Toyo Tires running at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend.


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Group A (American Iron, American Iron Xtreme, Super Touring)

Super Touring 2 was taken by Karim Alex Talbot (Streamwood, ILL) in his No. 421 Chevrolet Corvette. Talbot was also the overall race winner of Group A to kick-off the NASA Championships weekend.

"The Hoosier A6s in the dry were the perfect choice, I don't know why the other guys chose wets," Talbot said. "I want to thank DTE, Automechnica.com, Hoosier and Petfinder.com. If you are looking for a pet got to Petfinder.com. It was tricky at first, super slippery. A local worker told me it was going to dry out, so we went with a dry set-up and that proved to be the way to go."

In American Iron Xtreme Chris Griswold (Helenville, Wis.) made easy work of the American Iron Xtreme (AIX) race. Griswold started from pole and drove his No. 71 Ford Mustang to a second consecutive AIX championship win.

"It was a little hairy at the beginning, in the middle and at the end," Griswold said. "The restart was interesting. I had no heat in my slick tires and the guys went around me. It took me three laps to work back through the field. The track started to dry and the slicks were the right call at the end. I was running fast laps at the end. This makes me a five-time NASA Champion, the last four years and in 2007 as well."

The American Iron race was fast and furious at the beginning under drying track conditions. Dean Martin (Westland, Mich.), in the No. 50 Ford Mustang took the lead from pole and never looked back as possible contenders like Chris Cobetto went off track in wet conditions. Despite a full-course caution period to bunch the field, Martin took the win to become a four-time NASA Championship winner.

"I went out on full tread Toyo Tires," Martin said. "I figured if was wet, and even if it dried the Toyos don't change that much. My thought was to get a 20-30-second lead on the guys who were on dry tires. I knew it was going to dry up. I was playing the odds that as it dried up I wouldn't give up that much. I had the time in the bank as it dried out. The Ford Mustang ran great."

Scott Welham (Louisville, Ky.) No. 61 Dodge Viper had to be talked into taking his race car out in the rain, his reward a NASA Championship trophy in Super Touring 1.

"We were hesitant about whether we would even go out because of the rain," Welham said. "The guys from McCann Racing convinced me to put on seven-year-old rain tires and give it a wing. I spun out on the opening lap, the warm-up lap. The rest of the race I was able to keep myself in check and ended up winning the thing."

Group B (Honda Challenge 1, Honda Challenge 2)

In Honda Challenge 1, Jason Kohler (Waterford, Mich.) had the pole at the start of the race in his No. 848 S2000. Kohler was never really challenged and was able to take an impressive win by some 20-seconds to claim his first NASA Championship trophy. Kevin Helms (Charlotte, N.C.) made the Honda Challenge 2 race in a back-up car. Helms had crashed his primary Honda on Thursday and returned home to get a back-up. Also in a car that hadn't turned a wheel all weekend, or ever, until the race was Jonathan Meris. He towed all the way from Elk Grove, Calif. and finished the build on his new Acura Integra in garage No. 2 here at Mid-Ohio just in time to make the race. The Meris Motorsports crew was putting the stickers on the car on the false grid. Meris made his way from the back of grid, battling with John Oldt (Allentown, Penn.) for most of the race until a spin on lap 19ended the battle. Meris rewarded the team's hard work with an amazing second-place finish. It was also a rewarding day for Helms as well. He finished third in his back up and borrowed Acura Integra.

"I was able to get a great start," Kohler said. "I think the open track in front of me really helped to get a gap to second place. Everyone had to sort it out behind me. The car was pretty good. The tires were getting really greasy at the end, but that happens when you push it really hard."

"Second place is a victory for us today," Meris said. "The car was in pieces when we pulled in here on Wednesday. The Meris Motorsports crew really worked hard on no sleep to the get the car ready for the race. The race was the first time on the track for this new Integra. This is a personal victory for us. I want to thank my team, Honda Performance Development, Toyo Tires, Track Fast Motorsports, and KTune. For the first time out the car was pretty good. There are some here and there to fine tune, but it was pretty good."

"We had a rough start to the weekend crashing our primary car in the qualifying race," Helms said. "Thanks to Eric Olson for letting me borrow his car. It wasn't quite what we needed to win, but it worked and I am thankful for the third place. We worked with what we had. I think we had a fourth place car today, but we will take the third place. I am looking forward to coming back next year with a new car and get that championship."

Jeremy Croiset (Techachapi, Calif.) in Honda Challenge 2 was embattled with Egidijus Sadauskas (Lemont, ILL) in their Honda CRX racers in the opening laps. On lap five, Sadauskas pushed too hard and went off track in the Carrousel, leaving Croiset out front on his own with a six second lead on the field. Croiset cruised to a near 20-second win to take his first NASA Championship trophy.

"The car was really good," Croiset said. "My crew chief helped me put together a dynamite car. The CRX was perfect from the beginning to the end. I got a good start and that helped me get a gap. That was critical to my race. Egidijus (Sadauskas) was fast all weekend. It is tough to pass that B18 motor with my B16 on the straight. I got the jump at the start and that is what I needed. I had to drive a little defensively for a few laps until Egi was battling and that allowed me to get a gap to the end of the race."

Group G (GTS 1-4)

In one of the biggest fields of the weekend, the GTS race had 42 cars take the green flag. Number 0 Randy Mueller (Miami, Fla.) in his GTS4 category BMW M3 took the lead from pole position. On lap four the GTS4 No. 171 Porsche of Jay Matus (Pearland, Tx) flipped over and landed on its wheels in turn five. Behind Mueller, Scott Bove (Conifer, Colo.) in his No. 22 BMW M3 was embroiled in a battle with No. 15 Chris Streit's (Naperville, ILL) Porsche. The battle allowed Mueller to get out to a six-second lead at the races half-way mark. On lap 12, the second full-course caution of the race flew, bunching the large field together. On the restart Mueller, with Bove in tow took the win with Streit ending up in third.

In GTS1 Jean-Pierre Verbunt (Ancaster, Ont. Can.) won in his No. 894 Porsche 944. In GTS 2 John Graber (Bay Village, OH) took the trophy in his No. 643 Porsche 944 with Steve Ott (Houston, Tx) winning GTS3 in his No. 172 Porsche Boxster.

"It was exciting and full of drama," Mueller said. "There were cars everywhere, two full-course yellows. One of the yellows wasn't followed by a green. I got jumped on the restart, not expecting to go green, so I had to make up the time. It made it a little more exciting. The car was pretty good. Not as good as it was in the dry the other day. It was good enough to get it done today, that is for sure."

"The run was great today," Graber said. "I started third, got by the guys in front of me early in the race. I kept it smooth and consistent, focusing on the racing fundamentals and the advice of my crew chief. The advice was to make sure you finish and work back from there. The track was slower than the last two days by a second or so."

"It was combination of luck and a great car today," Ott said. "We started back a little ways as we weren't able to race yesterday. The car was awesome from the word go. The Hoosiers came in great and the yellows bunched us up twice, which helped. We weren't able to run in the qualifying race yesterday because the windshield fogged up in the rain, and I had to pull in."

"I had to be very patient, especially at the beginning," Verbunt said. "There was a lot of turmoil at the start. I got gifted for a win. I got taken out last year, so I will take the win this year. The start was a bit anxious. There were cars all over the place. I was able to dart my around and make it through. Everyone tries to win this race in the first lap. I am glad to be here."

Group E Spec Miata

At the drop of the green flag the No. 69 Mazda Miata driven by double qualifying race winner Yiannis Tsiounis (New York, NY) raced into an impressive four-second lead in the spec class. The battle for the final two podium positions were up in the air the entire 45-minute race. The 57 of Alex Bolanos (Miami, Fla.) was running in second with Greg Stasiowski (Wellsburg, W.Va.), No. 32 Miata, running third at half distance. Stasiowski was being hounded by Justin Hille in his No. 48 Miata for the final podium position. Three laps later Hille pulled off after Turn One with smoke coming from the rear of the 48. That made the No. 55 of Christopher Williams (Ada, Mich.) the next pursuer to Stasiowski. On lap 12 a full-course caution bunched the Miata's, eliminating Tsiounis' seven-second lead on the field. On the restart the 69 of Tsiounis maintained the lead only to have the second caution of the race fly a-lap-and-a-half later. On the lap 16 restart, Tsiounis was able to maintain his lead for the flag-to-flag victory claiming a coveted spot in the Mazda Shootout for a season in an MX-5 Pro Cup car for 2013. Bolanos finished third, and Stasiowski came in on the bottom step of the podium.

"I had to work really hard, the second half," Tsiounis said. "I knew that sooner or later we would get a full-course yellow. The track was good. I had a really good set of tires and I could get a good gap on the field. I am just another cog in the wheel. My mechanics really make it work. I was just trying to not make a mistake and run clean lines. It was a good day."

"I started in fifth," Stasiowski said. "I let a few people through on the start, so I had to battle back. I thought I had some breathing room, and then the yellow came out and bunched us up together. Luckily, both restarts went ok. I had a challenge on the restart, but was able to hold him off for third. The car started to push in the right hand turns, so going through the Key Hole and the Carrousel was a challenge, but everywhere else it was great. I really had nothing for the first two cars."

"We didn't start where we wanted to in eighth," Bolanos said. "It was a little bit further back than we wanted. It is hard to pass here. I was patient and steadily moved up. I wasn't going to catch Yiannis, then the yellow came out and I thought I had a chance. I just couldn't stay with him. The rain washed the rubber off the track from yesterday, so we had to relearn where the line is here. I used up my car getting from eighth to second. He was cruising all race. He wasn't using up his car so he could just pull away."

NASA Championship Saturday Winners:

Group A:
American Iron, Dean Martin, Westland, Mich., No. 50 Ford Mustang
American Iron Xtreme, Chris Griswold, Helenville, Wis., No. 71 Ford Mustang
STR One, Scott Wellham, Louisville, Ky., No. 61 Dodge Viper
STR Two, Karim Alex Talbot, Streamwood, ILL, No. 421 Chevrolet Corvette

Group B:
Honda Challenge One, Jason Kohler, Waterford, Mich., No. 848 Honda S2000
Honda Challenge Two, Jeremy Croiset, Tehachapi, Calif., No. 25 Honda CRX

Group E:
Spec Miata, Yiannis Tsiounis, New York, NY, No. 69 Mazda Miata

Group G:
GTS1, Jean-Pierre Verbunt , Ancaster, Ont. Can., No. 894 Porsche 944
GTS 2, John Graber, Bay Village, OH, No. 643 Porsche 944
GTS 3, Steve Ott, Houston, Tx, No. 172 Porsche Boxster
GTS 4, Randy Mueller, Miami, Fla., No. 0 BMW M3

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