Atlantic Preview: VIR Rounds
Salem, NH - The Atlantic Championship Series and the new Atlantic Challenge are headed to VIRginia International Raceway this weekend for rounds five and six of their 10 race season. This is the first time the Atlantic Championship Series will be racing at VIR. In the past, this track has marked the opening rounds of the F2000 Championship Series and the F1600 Formula F Championship Series.
The Atlantic cars shouldn’t be at any disadvantage by not having had run at VIR before, as there is a full promoter test day with four test session on Thursday, followed by two practice session on Friday. The extra time, added to the fact that VIR was just recently repaved, should help all drivers to improve and be confident for the races on Saturday and Sunday, June 7 and 8.
Sitting quite comfortably in the points lead is Daniel Burkett, driving for K-Hill Motorsports. The 19 year old career driver has yet to be contested by any of the other drivers for the top step of the podium. He currently holds four first place finishes, three pole positions, three fastest race laps, and one track record.
The Watkins Glen track records were set by Comprent Motorsports’ Jimmy Simpson, who sits behind Burkett, second in points. Along with both the qualifying and race record at The Glen, Simpson also has two second place finishes, one pole and one fastest race lap, out of the four races this so far this season.
While Burkett may be comfortable in first, Simpson has some close competition for second. Only a few points separate him from third place, another K-Hill Motorsport driver, Conner Kearby. Despite having a up-and-down weekend at Watkins Glen, Kearby still managed to do well in both races and remains in contention for a podium finish.
Behind Kearby, is former second place Atlantic Championship Series finisher, Polestar’s Keith Grant. Again, there are only a few points separating those two. Fifth place, young Ethan Ringel, is also only a few points away from Grant. All of these drivers have had podium finishes this year and poised to take more.
The drivers deeper in the field are closer in points to one another than the drivers in the top. Many only separated by three or four points. VIR will be a big weekend for the Championship, as it marks halfway through the season.
Many of the drivers who are in tight contention with those around them in the points standings, are also competing in the Atlantic Challenge, which awards the top three drivers racing Swift 014, 008 and Ralt RT-41 cars. Tyler Hunter of Swan Racing holds the lead in the Atlantic Challenge by less than 10 points over K-Hill Motorsport’s Bruce Hamilton.
With the addition of the Atlantic Challenge, the introduction of a new track for the Atlantic cars, and this weekend marking halfway through their season, the races at VIR should be pivotal for many drivers and teams.
Two practice session will be held on Friday June 6th, followed by qualifying and Race 1 on Saturday the 7th, and qualifying and Race 2 of the weekend on the 8th.