Mike Anzaldi has clinched the Blue Marble Radical Cup North America’s Pro 1340 class championship after a hat-trick of victories in the penultimate round at Road Atlanta during HSR’s Fall Historics event.
The Autobahn Country Club member stamped his authority on the 2021 season beating his nearest points rival Jeff Ping, and one of the fastest youngsters in the field, Zac Ping.
Gustavo Rafols extended his championship lead in the Pro 1500 class with two wins, but Palmer Miller also impressed, taking pole position and a race win.
Jon Field was in a league of his own for much of the weekend in the Platinum class and scored two victories, while Louis Schriber broke through for a win– his first since Road America.
Twenty-seven cars rolled out of the transporters on Wednesday night, but come qualifying the field had been depleted to 23 following an unusual number of accidents during the six test and practice session.
The major headline being that Platinum points leader Indy Al Miller’s SR10 would be sidelined. However, a factory demonstrator was on-site and was quickly acquired by ONE Motorsports, which rushed to prepare it for racing duties to salvage the weekend.
In unfamiliar hardware and a different seating position, Al Miller (Blue Marble/ONE Motorsports) struggled in qualifying– a trend which continued throughout the weekend.
Jon Field (Bricker Home Design/SWR) and Judd Miller (Radical Texas/ESSES Racing) set the initial pace with 1:20.259 and 1:20.425 respectively, before a blinding lap by Louis Schriber (Shorewood Development Group Racing) late in the session stole the Motul Pole Award with a 1:20.222.
Almost instantly as the first race commenced, a loose wheel curtailed Miller’s chances, and as the full coarse caution came out two laps in, Jim Booth (McDonald’s/WISKO Racing) found himself promoted to third place behind Schriber and Field.
Five laps after the re-start, Field found his way past Schriber to take the win, with Booth holding onto third. Scott Wagner (SWR) and Todd Solomon (Radical Texas/ESSES Racing) finished a strong fourth and fifth, respectively.
Race 14 saw Field find another level. He drove off into the distance, winning by a staggering 47 seconds over Judd Miller and Louis Schriber.
Reportedly Field was clocked at 1:18 laps, which matched Riley Dickinson’s unofficial laps during testing, but a fault with Field’s transponder meant he would start the third race of the weekend from the back of the grid.
From the pole, Miller led until diving into the pits for his mandatory stop. Meanwhile Field had passed 12 cars on the opening lap– earning him the Sunoco Hard Charger Award– before dispatching his fellow Platinum drivers to sit in third on lap five. Staying out, Schriber capitalized on a near perfect stop and a full course caution as the pit window closed to leapfrog into the lead over Miller.
Field then tried a daring move on Miller in turn 1, but it all went horribly wrong and tumbled him down the order.
By that time Race Control had also confirmed Miller had misjudged his stop, and while he crossed the line in second place, the Texan was quickly relegated to sixth place.
This promoted Scott Wagner into third and Jim Booth into second behind race winner Louis Schriber, who secured his first victory since Road America.
Throughout practice it seemed as though class points leader Gustavo Rafols (WISKO Racing) had an edge, however when it counted Palmer Miller (Radical Texas/ESSES Racing) found a 1:23.550 to take the Motul Pole Award by a mere seven-hundreds of a second.
In the first race Rafols took the lead on the opening lap, while further down the pack Richard Durocher (OPMT dot com/Team FURY) had contact and smoke, possibly from bodywork rubbing on a tire, could be seen. Whether related or not, as he started Lap 2 Durocher’s car left the track at Turn 1 resulting in a heavy impact with the tire wall. Instantly the safety car was deployed to neutralize the race.
When the race resumed, so did the battle for the lead. However, Rafols had Miller’s match and in the end his margin of victory was over 2 seconds.
Third placed Nate Smith (Largersmith Canning/Speed du Nord) impressed with his pace and was named the Sunoco Hard Charger for multiple position gains. Alex Morton (Team Stradale) fended off Gregg Gorski (smokebuddy/ONE Motorsports) for fourth, while Nick Pearson (Team FURY) and Alain Derzie (ONE Motorsports) completed the top-six.
Rafols started the second race from pole, but this time Miller got the jump into Turn 1, as did Alex Morton. Soon Rafols got back past Morton, and set his sights on Miller.
The young Texan kept his cool and, more critically, kept Rafols behind to take his third win of the season. Nate Smith backed up his Race 13 result with another podium, while Gregg Gorski took fourth. Alex Morton had to settle for fifth, and Nick Pearson again took a top six finish.
Starting from pole for the final race, Rafols quickly found himself in a three-way fight with Miller and Smith. Impressively, Smith passed both the young-guns during lap 8 to be leading the highly competitive class just before the pit window opened.
This however, is where Smith’s race unraveled, with his team miscalculating the pit delta. Smith came out about six seconds up the road, before Alain Derzie found the gravel trap on the long approach to pit lane and activated a full course caution.
As the green flag flew, Smith pitted to take his penalty, which left Rafols to fend off Miller for the win. Morton completed the PRO 1500 podium, while Pearson just missed out on collecting hardware yet again. Nate Smith salvaged fifth, with Gorski in sixth.
Points leader Mike Anzaldi (Emmett’s Energy) appeared to have a slow start to the weekend at Road Atlanta, although he later admitted he wasn’t showing his full hand during practice. Nevertheless, in qualifying he didn’t have the pace to match young-gun Zac Ping (Revogenex /Comprent Motor Sports), who took the Motul Pole Award with a 1:26.332.
Zac Ping’s contact on the opening lap of Race 13 took him out of contention, and left Anzaldi to win comfortably from his closest rival in the points, Zac’s father, Jeff. Jason Greewood (Greenwood Racing) completed the podium, with John Pearson (Team FURY) finishing in fourth and Bob Grecyzn (Mellow Mushroom/WISKO Racing) fifth.
The younger Ping made amends in Race 14, storming up through the field to earn the Sunoco Hard Charger award. However, he would never catch Anzaldi, who again took a comfortable win. Finishing third, Jeff Ping joined his son on the podium, with Greenwood and Pearson rounding out the top five.
Starting the final race from the pole, Zac Ping was no doubt hoping for a breakthrough win, while farther Jeff needed a win– and Anzaldi to crash out– to keep his championship hopes alive. Neither would occur.
Anzaldi drove a flawless race and gained at least a second over Zac Ping in the pitstops to take his third win of the weekend, his sixth in a row and his seventh win of the season to clinch the 2021 PRO 1340 class title.
Finishing second and third respectively, Zac and Jeff Ping again flanked Anzaldi on the podium, while Pearson edged out Greenwood for fourth place.
The Blue Marble Radical Cup series next heads to Sebring International Raceway for its season finale on Nov. 17-19, where the series will support the Creventic’s Hankook 24H Series.
All three races at Sebring will be live streamed and will feature commentary from Radio Le Mans. All Radical racers are invited to participate, regardless of whether they have previously raced in the championship.