The 3rd round of 5 for the Formula 600 Challenge would prove to be a difficult 1 for the Satellite crew. After coming off 2 dominating weekends in Kansas and New York you could almost say we were due. The weekend started off well enough with both McMahan and Strand qualifying far out front again from the rest of the Formula 600 field as they’re coming accustomed too. At the start of Saturdays race the 2 pulled away from the field quickly. About 7 laps into the 17 lap race however Strand had a tire start to go down on him. It had dropped low enough the the cars bodywork was dragging on the ground under braking. It eventually popped loose in the braking zone for Charlotte’s Web and the right side pod kicked loose. With room to spare ahead of 3rd place Jason Fitzpatrick, Strand tried driving a couple of laps 1 handed holding the body work down. When Fitzpatrick and Ross caught Strand however he stood on it again and picked the speed back up in which the body work nearly came completely off. He then had to come in where the Satellite guys tried to strap it back down to finish out the race. He went back on track and it came loose again half a lap later. With the right rear tire loosing more and more air also it was too dangerous for Strand to continue and had to settle for a 6th place finish in class and a DNF with 3 to go.
About the same time Strand was retiring from the race, McMahan was having his own issues with fuel pick up. Afterwards we found out that a few cars in other classes were starving on fuel also so we felt slightly better about the situation. Clint was starving the motor around right hand corners and with the majority of the corners at Barber being rights, he was in for a struggle to make it home. After a few laps of languishing around both Jason and Chris had passed Clint and he had to settle for 3rd in the 1st race of the weekend.
Sunday was set to be a redemption day for us. Clint still had a chance with a bit of luck to grab the win for the weekend. Matt was in a stage of just trying to salvage all the points he could. At the start of the race McMahan and Strand quickly pulled away from the 600 field and set about lapping within a few tenths of each other at the front. About 6 laps into the event however another F600 of Carl Maier had a wheel break and come loose on track leaving him stranded at the very crest of the hill at turn 3, an extremely dangerous place to be. The race was black flagged with the entire field coming to pit road. This meant the 600 field would have to deal with the should be faster Formula Mazdas now. They have much more horsepower and are much quicker on the straights but 600s are so much quicker through corners and under braking they actually lap much quicker around Barber.
At the restart, Clint, Matt, and 3rd place Chris Ross stayed nose to tail working their way through the various bigger formula cars ahead. Everybody still had their own race to deal with at the same time though. At 1 point Strand and McMahan were side by side for the race lead and a slower Mazda started coming down on both of them in Charlottes Web. Strand tried to pull out of the move being on the inside but unfortunately locked the rear and spun through the grass trying to avoid. He would fall down to 7th with the spin. There was still time left in the race however and Strand managed to pick off both Tom and Fred Edwards. Saturdays race winner Jason Fitzpatrick had a mechanical issue which dropped him out of 3rd and handed the spot to Matt but Chris was just to far up the road to catch back up with.
With Strands spin, McMahan had plenty of space behind him to secure the win for Sundays race. With Strand managing to work his way back up to 3rd for Sundays race which meant he would finish 5th for the weekend. It’s a real blow to Strands title chase but it means Clint now sits comfortably on top of the standings with Strand, Fitzpatrick, and Ross all fighting for 2nd. A Satellite 1-2 for the season is still a possibility but going to be a bit more difficult now.
Next for the Formula 600 Challenge is the roller coaster ride of Mid Ohio coming up October 5th and 6th.