The 2020 Blue Marble Radical Cup North America came down to the wire, with all three class championships and the outright title decided during the last round at Road Atlanta.
Chris Kemp and Team Stradale took top honors in the PRO 1340 class, Terry Olson and Team FURY secured the Masters class championships while Indy Al Miller and ONE Motorsports prevailed to claim the PRO 1500 titles.
Miller was also crowned outright series champ and will get the opportunity to race with the Radical Factory team in the UK next year.
Heading into the weekend three drivers were still in contention for the Masters class title, with reigning champ Judd Miller facing off with 2018 champ Terry Olson and newcomer Jon Field, the 2002 American Le Mans Series champion.
With an advantage of only 32 points, Olson (Team FURY) couldn’t afford to finish off the podium, and after Alex Papadopulos (1:20.239) set the pace in qualifying Olson was relegated to fourth fastest.
However Race 1 went to plan for Olson, who finished second after our racing Judd Miller (ESSES Racing / Radical Texas, 3rd) and capitalizing on a minor mishap by Jon Field (WISKO Racing, 4th).
None of the title contenders could catch Alex Papadopulos (ESSES Racing / Radical Texas), though, who led from start to finish, to take his second win of the year.
Thanks to his fastest lap in Race 1, Field was on pole for Race 2, but was passed by Papadopulos as the green flag flew. However as they started lap three it was clear Papadopulos was in trouble and he soon pitted with a loose rear wheel.
This left Field in first and elevated Miller to second place, after he’d dispatched Olson into Turn 10. And while Olson initially challenged Miller after the full course caution, the order of never changed.
The Race 2 result meant Olson would be crowned class champion so long as he started Race 3, but he was still in an epic battle with the PRO 1500 field for the outright title. Panic set in Saturday night when Team Fury confirmed Olson had lost a gear.
Rather than swapping out the box the team elected to use his spare car for the Race 3, a previous generation SR8, which meant he would be down on performance.
As soon as the pit window opened, Papadopulos elected to take his mandatory stop, but when the first course caution came out shortly after the strategy scuttled his chances.
Jon Field survived each restart to take the final win of the season from Judd Miller. And with another third place, Terry Olson completed the remarkable feat of collecting a podium finish in all 15 races of the season.
The consistency giving Olson and his Team Fury outfit the 2020 MASTERS class driver and team championships. Field finished the year runner up, with Miller third in points.
After being in the wars at the last two rounds, Indy Al Miller’s once solid lead in the championship had all but evaporated heading into the Road Atlanta weekend.
Furthermore a 10 grid place penalty meant Miller (Blue Marble / ONE Motorsports) was on the back foot, with no less than four rivals– Gregg Gorski, Mel Johnson, Steve Jenks and Gerhard Watzinger– also in contention for the title.
Another wrench in Miller’s works was Team Stradale’s Jordan Missig, who returned to the series after a year in Formula Regional (F3). Missig was blisteringly quick in qualifying and took the class pole with a 1:23.540, relegating Miller, who was second fastest, yet another position on the grid. Palmer Miller (Esses Racing / Radical Texas) also received a blow in qualifying. He was disqualified for weighing light and started Race 1 from last.
After a strong start, Indy Al Miller soon found himself behind two of his championship rivals and ONE Motorsports teammates, Mel Johnson and Gregg Gorski (smokebuddy), but with Missig in command and Steve Jenks in second place, it wasn’t critical that Al Miller got past.
However, when an opportunity arose at Turn 7, Al Miller pounced, making contact with Johnson, who was forced to retire.
Missig went on to take an impressive win from Jenks and Gerhard Watzinger while Al Miller was awarded a post race time penalty, plummeting him so far down the order that Gregg Gorski moved into the lead of PRO 1500 drivers championship.
At this point it appeared that Al Miller would clinch defeat out of the jaws of victory, but like true champions often do, he reversed course in Race 2, taking his sixth win of the season from Palmer Miller and Gerhard Watzinger (Crowdstrike).
Miller’s return to form coincided with heartache for others. While in the lead Jordan Missig fired it off in Turn 10, and Steve Jenks was forced to pit with a cut tire. Jenks, however made amends and worked his way back up the field and back into the championship fight with a fifth place finish behind Gregg Gorski.
Missig’s fastest lap meant he started the final race of the year on the class pole, but an upright failure curtailed his chances of another win. There were no such dramas for Jenks though.
Impressive pace and a perfect pitstop from his Group-A / Radical New York team put Jenks into the lead, and he fended off Al Miller to take his maiden victory.
Jenks had also become the seventh different winner in the PRO 1500 class during the season, showing just how competitive the class has become, and with maximum points he’d secured second in the class championship.
Gerhard Watzinger, finished the year with another third place, while Gregg Gorski’s fourth place put him third in the class points. Young guns Nick Pearson (Team FURY) and Ryan Bjerke (Bjerke Motorsport) also impressed with fifth and six, respectively.
And with the final points tallied Indy Al Miller had done it. He was not only the PRO 1500 champion, but with a mere 15 points over Olson and Jenks the outright series champion for 2020 too.
With their drivers taking a remarkable 13 of the 15 wins, One Motorsports were crowned PRO 1500 Team Champions.
Reigning champion Eric Wagner returned to the series at Road Atlanta and immediately set the pace, outqualifying points leader Chris Kemp with a 1:26.490. He was on track for a win in Race 1 until being hip-checked in Turn 3 by an SR8.
This occurred after Kemp had also suffered a similar fate in Turn 1, leaving Atlanta Motorsports Park member Jeff Ping (PRIMAL Racing) to take his first win of the year, and eat into Kemp’s points lead.
Starting from the pole in Race 2, Wagner repaid Turn 3 Motorsport’s efforts to rebuild the car with a flawless drive, another fastest lap and the win, confirming why he was the reigning champion. Finishing second, Ping again took points away from third placed Kemp.
Ping went one better in Race 3, winning from Eric Wagner and Chris Kemp, however it was too late.
Kemp and Team Stradale had wrapped up the PRO 1340 class championships. Nevertheless second in the points was an impressive series debut for Ping. Jim Booth (WISKO Racing) was third in points.