The Blue Marble Radical Cup North America put on a show in front of thousands of IndyCar fans during the REV Group Grand Prix at Road America.
An influx of Midwest racers swelled the grid to over 30 cars, and the locals starred.
Wisconsin’s Louis Schriber took his first victory in the Platinum class, while 14-year-old Christian Weir (PRO 1340) became the series’ youngest ever winner, taking two in PRO 1340, fellow Autobahn Country Club member Mike Anzaldi extended his PRO 1340 points lead with a win and Alex Morton scored a victory in PRO 1500.
Throughout testing Louis Schriber (Shorewood Development Group) and his Radical SR10 set the benchmark, however his weekend was put in jeopardy before it had even really begun.
The team had seen a spike in water temperature due to air pocket earlier in the week and come official practice it appeared the head gasket had been compromised.
Radical came to the rescue, allowing the team to use an engine from a factory show car which was on display at the event.
The team completed the swap mid-way through qualifying and a red flag meant Schriber effectively had two laps to attempt to beat Indy Al Miller’s 2:08.6.
After coming across traffic throughout the lap, and as the checkered flag few, Schriber somehow crossed the line with a 2:08.2, earning him the Motul Pole Award and the accolades of the entire paddock.
Schriber’s elation then turned to heartache when the car wouldn’t start Race 1.
This left Al Miller (Blue Marble/ONe Motorsports) to duke it out with Jon Field (Scott Wagner Racing) for the first half of the race, until it appeared the former ALMS champion had simply asked too much from his Hankook tires and his SR8 began to fade.
Judd Miller (Radical Texas/ESSES Racing) was the first to capitalize, regaining second place, before Jim Booth (McDonald’s/WISKO Racing) pipped Field right on the line to score a podium by one-hundredth of a second.
Starting from the back of the grid in Race 2 and with his family cheering him on Schriber was fired up, reporting he was in with a chance, particularly if there was a full course caution.
On the opening lap Schriber rocketed up to 12th overall before he got his wish.
Upon the restart Schriber then carved his way to fifth, behind leader Al Miller, Judd Miller, Field, and Jim Booth.
On lap 6 Field overcooked Canada corner, before Judd Miller had his own moment, narrowly avoiding Field’s car. With Schriber now in second place the safety car came out again to setup an epic battle for the lead.
Al Miller defended well, but just couldn’t match the pace of Schriber, who had gone from zero to hero with a spectacular win from the back of the grid.
Not only did he record the fastest lap of the race, a 2:08.8, he was also the recipient of the Sunoco Hard Charger Award.
Scott Wagner (Scott Wanger Integrated Medicine) finished an impressive third, his first podium with his new SR10.
Before Race 3 Al Miller declared the “gloves were off”, but it was pole sitter Schriber who took the early lead, and again set the fastest lap of the race before the round of mandatory pitstops.
With it starting to sprinkle, Schriber decided to change to wets, but the decision caused him to go a lap down on the field, which he never recovered.
Al Miller capitalized, taking his second win of the weekend, extending his lead in the Platinum class points.
Field was joined by his son Clint, celebrating Father’s Day with a second place finish, while Jim Booth’s third place moved him into second in the points.
WISKO Racing’s Gustavo Rafols, who was the PRO 1500 class points leader heading into Road America, clinched the Motul Pole Award by less than a tenth over Gregg Gorski (Smokebuddy/ONE Motorsports) during qualifying.
Rafols then led every lap of Race 1 to secure his first win of the season from Gorski and Noah Ping (Comprent Motor Sports), who was named Sunoco Hard Charger after starting 13th outright.
Steve Jenks (Audien Hearing/Group-A Racing) had a solid run to finish fourth, while Alex Morton (Team Stradale) and Palmer Miller (Radical Texas/ESSES Racing) rounded out the top five.
Gorski’s lap of 2:13.5 saw him start on the class pole for Race 2, which featured spectacular racing throughout the field. Rafols and Noah Ping both had strong opening laps to find themselves first and second.
A strong running Nate Smith had a rear lock up through Turn 8, which allowed Gorski to get a run on Morton, who was determined to make it two wide through the infamous kink. On the marbles, Morton went for a wild ride on the grass, but lot track position.
Then on lap 9 Noah Ping got a great run on the outside of Steve Jenks into the braking zone of Turn 5.
With elbows out, the pair went side by side into Turn 6. Off line, Jenks caught a gear, and spun all on his own, dropping him down the order.
By this time Gorski had taken charge, with Rafols, Morton, Noah Ping and Nate Smith all in the mix.
On the final lap the rear tires on Gorski’s SmokeBuddy machine had given up completely by the time he entered Canada corner, and he bobbled and wobbled on the exit and through Turn 13. However, Rafols had mistimed his run and tagged Gorski as they went over the crest.
Somehow Rafols gathered it up to cross the line in first place, while Gorski was lucky not to find the wall.
Following the podium presentation Rafols was stripped of his win for giving Gorski a helping hand, which promoted Alex Morton to first place, Nate Smith (Largersmith/Speed du Nord) to a well deserved second and Palmer Miller to third. Noah Ping was fourth while Gorski was classified in fifth.
Thanks to a switch in setup, Jenks set the fastest lap in Race 2, with a 2:13.4, gaining the class pole for Race 3.
However, it was Nate Smith who took the lead early, over Morton with Jenks back in third. Noah Ping was then an early casualty. Trying to run alongside Gorski through the kink he found the wall on lap four while running forth.
During the pitstops, the top three tumbled down the order, while Gorski found himself in the lead with his ONE Motorsports teammate Alain Derzie in second, which is how they finished.
Nate Smith completed the podium, with Nick Pearson (Team FURY) in fourth and Max Felder in fifth.
Home in sixth place, Rafols left the weekend tied in points with Gorski, while Palmer Miller has moved up to third in the championship.
Alain Derzie was the recipient of the Sunoco Hard Charger award for Race 3.
Christian Weir (Power Equipment Direct/Team Stradale) immediately made his presence felt during his Radical Cup debut.
The fourteen-year-old, who has been testing USF2000 and Formula 4, won the Motul Pole Award for the PRO 1340 class with a 2:18.1, less than four one-hundreds of a second over fellow young-gun Zac Ping (Comprent Motor Sports). Mike D’Ambrose Jr. (Team Stradale) was third fastest.
It was Ping, however, who jumped into the lead during lap one, putting the PRO 1500 car of Pius Eigenmann (Loon Racing) between himself and his rival.
By lap 8, however, Weir was back on the gearbox of Ping, who was handling the pressure well. However on the final tour Weir found a way past to take his maiden victory, and become the youngest ever Blue Marble Radical Cup race winner.
Mike D’Ambrose also got through to take a well earnt second place, with Ping settling for third.
Fourth in class went to Mike Anzaldi (Emmett’s Energy/Anzaldi GP), while Thomas Palladino (Dino Racing) and Andrew Marks (Team Stradale) completed the top 6.
Visibly gutted on the podium, Ping was clearly looking to make amends in Race 2. However his job was made harder by the fact he would start with a full row between himself and Weir who gained pole with a 2:18.0.
An outstanding opening lap saw Ping again jump into the class lead and the pair continued their Race 1 battle, running side by side.
Behind them D’Ambrose Snr had taken over the driving duties in the No. 6 machine and third place, and watched on as the young-guns fought for the lead.
Again, lap after lap it was Ping first past the post, until a fuel splutter during the final 4.014 miles allowed Weir through to take his second win of the weekend.
Thomas Palladino and Andrew Marks matched their Race 1 performance in fifth and sixth.
With another fastest lap– this time a 2:18.4– Weir started on the class pole for Race 3 at Road America.
Another sterling drive saw him lead the class and run as high as ninth outright, but his pitstop strategy didn’t pan out. Nor did it for rival Zac Ping.
However, Mike Anzaldi, Jeff Ping and Thomas Palladino’s teams kept calm and chose correctly during the pit window, to be running first, second and third, respectively, as the checkered flag flew.
Zac Ping finished fourth, with Weir in fifth and Jason Greenwood (AMI Information Systems) in sixth.
The win means Mike Anzaldi is now firmly in control of the PRO 1340 championship, from Jeff Ping and Jason Greenwood.
The Blue Marble Radical Cup now heads to Texas for Round 3 at Circuit of The Americas on July 16-18, before rejoining Road To Indy at New Jersey Motorsports Park on Aug. 27-29.
RESULTS: Road America
POINTS: After Round 2