Grant Battles to Race One Win!
Keith Grant and Dario Cangialosi hammered on each other all race, but it was Grant to come out on top in race one here at VIR!
In the early afternoon the cooler conditions were overtaken by much hotter conditions. Cangialosi bunched the field nicely for the start, and as the green flag signaled the race start, he got the slightest edge on Keith Grant in second. Lazier nearly got by Grant on the inside of turn one, but Grant managed to use the momentum provided by the wider line to cleanly take the second spot before reaching turn three.
At the conclusion of the first lap, Cangialosi, Grant, and Lazier were fairly evenly spaced to hold first through third respectively. Spencer Brockman held fourth, and Dudley Fleck crossed the line in fifth. Shortly after, Grant closed mightily on Cangialosi, the pressure was on. As they arrived into view again, Grant was indeed close. Into turn one, Cangialosi played defensive, and repeated that maneuver again into turn three. Lazier lay just off their wings, but looking less aggressive than Grant.
The next time around, it was Cangialosi on the defensive again. Grant with a big run, Cangialosi protecting the inside into turn one. Grant attempted to take the advantage off the exit of turn one, but Cangialosi again protected the entry into turn three.
Spencer Brockman now inherited third as Lazier retires. Brockman is well out of touch with the lead, some four seconds back. For the leaders, they are already lapping cars, and it made the race for the lead more variable than I am sure Keith Grant would like. One moment he’s close, the next Cangialosi gets a better path around a lapper and grows the gap. Things however got easier for Grant, a stranded aerodynamic device on the racing service brought out a full course caution. The field will be grouped behind the pace car and the cars that were being lapped will catch up to the tail end of the pack. Twelve race laps remain.
The full course yellow was short lived, the rear wing was quickly cleared off the course, and just one lap later the field rushed past a waving green flag. Again, Keith Grant has a look on Cangialosi. Again, Cangialosi defends through turn one and later turn three. A small error from Grant in turn four however looks to have given Cangialosi a tad bit of breathing room, maybe a tenth or two worth. That too is short lived, the next time by the flag, Grant is wheel to wheel with Cangialosi, it’s not to be. Defensive driving by Cangialosi has worked before, and it works again. The racers are at the half way mark, and Spencer Brockman sits and watches from third, he's licking his lips in the hopes of a slip up from the top two.
The next lap by, it’s a perfect replay, Grant on the outside of Cangialosi into turn one, it again fails. Their lap times are nearly identical, if Grant hopes to pull this off he might need to try a novel approach.
In the entry of turn sixteen, Grant lets Cangialosi build a bit of lead, this lets Grant get a clear run onto the front straight. By mid-straight, Grant is gaining steadily. By the start finish line, Grant is alongside. By the brake zone, it’s a repeat of the laps before. Cangialosi defends successfully. Eight laps remain.
With seven to go, Grant finally makes it work! Persistence has paid off! He holds the outside line all the way around turn one and gains the spot into turn three. Off the exit of turn five however they catch a lapper, Grant is held up. Cangialosi stacks up behind, there’s nothing he can do though, both drivers get by the lapper and Grant retains the lead.
Six laps to circulate, Grant has lead his first lap of the race. It’s Cangialosi’s turn to attack. Spencer Brockman has kept himself in the hunt, he’s just one second behind Cangialsoi. The top three are nose to tail. Lee Alexander is fourth, and Rich Zober is fifth.
Time counts down, and with the previous full course yellow the competitors won’t make full race distance, the race will instead end on time. That means that there are only two more laps remaining. Keith Grant unpacks some potential, he runs the fastest lap of the race and gaps Cangialosi by nearly a second. Spencer Brockman still lurks in third. As the checker flag flies, the top three remain in that order, Lee Alexander is fourth, and Richard Zober wins master’s and takes fifth overall.