With more than 30 cars taking to the track, the Blue Marble Radical Cup North America series put on a show during the NTT IndyCar Series Sonsio Grand Prix presented by AMR.
Al Miller, Jon Field and Judd Miller shared the spoils in Platinum. Palmer Miller joined Gustavo Rafols and Reece Everard in the fight for the Pro 1500 championship. Mike Anzaldi took two wins in Pro 1340, while Robert Cipriani starred with a win on debut.
After setting the benchmark during qualifying, Reid Stewart (Fasano Textiles/Group-A) was relegated to third on the grid after being eclipsed by Austin Riley (Racing with Autism) and Motul Pole Award winner Mike Anzaldi (Emmett’s Energy/RYNO Racing).
After a solid start, Anzaldi used his teammate Thomas Paladino, first as a ‘rear gunner’ and then, as the Pro 1500 driver found his rhythm, a ‘rabbit’ to chase, on his way to victory in Race 4 over Reid Stewart.
Robert Cipriani (Resicom/Team Stradale) delivered a podium in his first Blue Marble Radical Cup appearance.
Driving for the very first time in wet conditions, Cipriani then kept calm amongst the chaos in Race 5 to clinch his first series victory. Visibly emotional on the podium, Cipriani thanked his mother, who he said had made great sacrifices to ensure he could compete.
Anzaldi survived two spins on his way to second, while Mike D’Ambrose (Team Stradale) put the squeeze on Austin Riley in the final corner to stay in third.
Before making contact with the wall Reid Stewart set the fastest lap of the race, but elected to start the final race from pit lane. Disaster struck Rafols on the warm-up lap, with the young Puerto Rican overheating his brakes.
Anzaldi made a perfect pitstop to finish the weekend with another win from Austin Riley.
Local Mike D’Ambrose picked up another podium, while Cipriani was fourth and Jason Greenwood (AMI Systems/RYNO Racing) fifth.
Reece Everard (Wicked Sweet/Group-A) made his intentions clear, taking the class pole by over six tenths, to tie on points with arch-rival Gustavo Rafols (WISKO Racing) heading into the first race.
After patiently backing out of a pass on Everard at Canada Corner, a few laps later Rafols daringly tried the outside at Turn. Initially it appeared Rafols had made it stick, but losing traction on the exit allowed Everard back through, and Nate Smith (Lagersmith/RYNO Racing) too.
Losing time in the carousel Rafols seemed to get stuck behind second placed Smith and had to defend a hard charging Palmer Miller (ESSES Racing) to take third.
Taking the top step of the podium Everard broke the news that he’d lost fifth gear early on and had nursed the car to victory lane.
While Smith started the second race from the class pole, disaster struck Rafols, who overcooked a new set of pads on the second warm-up lap.
Into Turn 6 on the opening tour, Smith lost the backend all by himself, but was soon collected by Everard, who had to retire with damage.
Soon after Smith became a victim of the deteriorating conditions, as did a number of Pro 1500 drivers before a red flag allowed the field to swap to wets.
Kent Myers (Esses Racing) survived a two-lap shootout to take second, as did Jack Yang in third– their first ever Radical Cup podiums.
Never putting a foot wrong after inheriting the lead on the opening lap, Palmer Miller drove an outstanding race to take his first victory of the season.
A fastest lap for Miller also meant he started Race 6 of the championship from the class pole, however it was Everard who led heading into the pit window.
Stellar in and out laps leapfrogged Gustavo Rafols into the win, ahead of Reece Everard. Palmer Miller finished third, with Alain Derzie (ONE Motorsports) finishing a strong fourth, Thomas Palladino fifth and Kent Myers sixth.
Louis Schriber III (Shorewood/RYNO Racing) came into his home weekend determined make up for last year, when issues and a bad pit stop strategy robbed him of victories.
With English Radical expert Rob Whelden on hand as coach, Schriber made his intentions clear in qualifying, setting a 2:07.374 to eclipse Steve Jenks (Audien Hearing/Group-A) by a mere nine one-hundredths of a second to secure the Motul Pole Award.
However by Turn 1 Schriber had been relegated to sixth. Meanwhile reigning class champ Indy Al Miller (Blue Marble/ONE Motorsport), who started fourth, rocketed up to second behind Jenks.
As they approached Turn 2 on the second lap, Jenks defended as Miller went for the lead before Miller, in a classic ‘under-over’ fired it down the inside of Turn 6 in the defining move of the race.
Miller took the victory from Jenks, and a recovering Schriber. Jon Field (Bricker Home Design/SWR) secured the Sunoco Hard Charger award after working his way up from the back of the grid to fourth, aided in part by a retiring Judd Miller (ESSES Racing).
Bad luck struck Miller again in Race 5, as his car ground to a halt before he could even take the green.
After setting fastest lap Jenks started from the pole and he immediately took control of the race, while Miller had contact with Field and Schriber through Turn 5.
A lap later Schriber got ahead of Miller in five, before Miller had to retire after slapping the wall at the Kink.
As the rain came down Field overtook Jenks, who dropped back again as Rossi (Carpet Giant/WISKO Racing) stormed up to second in the worsening conditions.
Jenks then spun to fall down the order further before the red flag came out. Field led as the green flag flew once again, but had a moment on the exit of Turn 1 allowing Schriber past. Then on the final lap Schriber ran wide at five to let Rossi through for an outstanding maiden victory, and Field into second.
Schriber had to settle for third, until a post race investigation found Rossi had passed Schriber under yellow, relegating him to third, and promoting Field to the win from Schriber. Clint Field (Bricker Home Design/SWR) received the Sunoco Hard Charger award.
Jon Field started Race 6 from the pole alongside Schriber, who quickly found himself in fourth after Rossi charged through to second and Al Miller barged past.
Field was then assisted into a spin, allowing Schriber and Miller duked it out for second behind Rossi, who built up a commanding lead. However, an issue in the front left for Al Miller, the round of mandatory pitstops, and an issue for Rossi on the final tour propelled Judd Miller into a well deserved win, from Scott Wagner and Jon Field.
Wagner was later penalized for shorting the stop, relegating him to third and Field into second.
Clint Field was fourth, from Claus Nielsen (ESSES Racing), while Schriber came home in sixth.
The Blue Marble Radical Cup North America series now heads to Watkins Glen, where it will join Masters Historic Formula 1 cars during the Finger Lakes Wine Festival on July 7-10.
RESULTS: Road America