This would prove out to be true as at the drop of the green flag the top 4 cars ran line astern with each trying to get a feel for what everybody was running like early on. Nobody wanted to bin a brand new Champcar so early into the season. Mark Jaeckle, who had qualified 5th, came very close as he got caught out on cold tyres exiting turn 4 and slammed the inside wall. He was able to limp back to the pits though and continue on to finish 9th. The top 4 continued their fight until Mike Smulcheski made a small mistake coming out of 8 which allowed Ramirez to close right up on his gearbox. Paco had a much stronger run into the hairpin but had just clipped the back of Smulcheski causing him to slide off track and slipping back to 5th. Ramirez would immediately take the automatic drivethrough penalty for avoidable contact which promoted Smulcheski back up to 4th. After a brief battle with Chris Chaney and Alex Jones he had found his way back up to 2nd and was running down Strand for the lead again. It took Smulcheski just 5 laps from his slight incident to catch back up to Strand and continue their battle for the lead. The 2 went side by side down the back straight and into turn 14 with Smulcheski getting the better of Strand. The 2 continued to run in order no more then 1.5 seconds apart just clicking off laps while they pulled away from the rest of the field. Strand was the first of the 2 to dive in for tyres on lap 18, unfortunately missing the pit entrance. After bound over the turns 23 and 24 hill he was back on track now 9 seconds back of the lead. 2 attempts later he was finally in and completed his stop, letting Jim Perusse passed as he left pit road. After Jim made a small slip Strand was back through and into 2nd trying to put down fast laps on the new tyres and lightend fuel load while Smulcheski remained on track. Matt unfortunately ran into technical difficulties which set him back even further and quickly into the clutches of Alex Jones again. The 2 swapped positions a couple times with Strand eventually able to pull out to a 7 second lead over the Catfish Motorsports car at the checkard. While Matt had his issues in the back, Mike Smulcheski ran a near flawless race to bring his #3 Satellite Racing car home in first by nearly 16.5 seconds.
“Major thanks to the team engineers on the amazing setup work!” Smulcheski said. “Great recovery for us after a few miscues to make a statement in the points. I think we only missed out on 1 for the weekend with Paco setting fast lap right at the end. Late race I was pushing to hard with the gap I had and almost had a few big moments so I backed it down a notch to bring it home safe.”
We’d also like to extend our well wishes to the 3rd driver on the Champcar team this season, Michael Edwards. Edwards was due to run in the event and was right on pace with his Satellite teammates in practice during the week but was unable to attend due to his grandmother falling ill. We’ve dedicated the 1-2 results from Saturday to him and his family and wish them a speedy recovery.