Itís early in this season of Ought-3, but the Mid-Am has been to the Bluff and gamboled under the Gateway, harkened to Heartland and Hallett and next moves on to Mid-America.
Five races into a 20-race season, 131 drivers are signed up for the Mid-Am championship but plenty of time yet to join the party.
Some new faces are seen in new places this year, and some old hands making another stand. Some classes already have real battles shaping up. What is becoming a phenomenon, however, is the newest class in the championship ó Spec Miata.
Twenty-one drivers signed up for that class alone, more than any other. Fifteen already have points, which is more than any other class has total registered drivers! There is a provision in the Mid-Am rules (5.1) that any finisher not otherwise earning points per GCR, e.g. 10th or below, gets a half-point in Mid-Am scoring. We havenít used that rule for years. Bet we do this year!
At the top of the chart, however, the leaders are just two points apart. With Don Wiseman (MidS) moving to the Left Coast, this could be Dick Faxonís year. Wiseman departed after leaving one more victory in his wake at the Memphis opener, but now Faxon (OzMt) is indeed the leader. But not by much. Thereís a fleet of íem a-building up in Des Moines and early chargers Jarrod Igou and Tom Kraft are making noise. So is David Harber (MidS) who would like to shoulder Wisemanís Memphis mantle.
Monica Rollins (KC), who won the I.T. Tour last year in ITS, now wants the other enchilada and leads the class by three points over Skip Brunson (Miss). Each has a win already.
Frank Stone (KC) has jumped out to an early lead in SRF after doing four races and finishing runner-up in three of them, But Ken Tripkos (Kan) jumped into the pool at Heartland Park, won both ends there but stumbled at Hallett and is now just four behind Stone.
Four points is also the margin that separates Greg Mathews (KC) from Scott Peterson (KC) in a Toyota vs. Mazda showdown. The two might be wary of Chris Wiggins (MidS), who won the opener at Memphis.
ITE has picked up a lot of interest this year with cars ranging from a honking Viper to an AWD Impreza. Early leader Mike McGinley (KC) has two wins in a Mustang Cobra R to stand five-up on John Waldbaum (Neb) in a Porsche 944 Turbo. One more point back, however, is another Cobra R driven by Buddy Cisar (Neb) and that Subie of Steve Sulatycki (KC). And the Viper hasnít been out yet.
Chris Albin (SIll) is doing his usual thing in ITB, 5 for 5 so far and thus the first entry on the Driver of the Year chart. But he has a new challenger, Tony Torres (StL), who chased him home at both the Memphis and Gateway rounds.
Duane Rost (DMV) has taken on G Production in an Albin-inspired VW Golf and has three wins from four starts already. But then Ď02 champ Chuck Leighton (OzMt) went to Hallett where the two had a dandy duel, Leighton just 0.63 of a second ahead at the checker.
E Production is a couple of old stalwarts back after each other again, Ronald Davis (Kan) in his MGB and Dale Smith (Kan) in his 240Z. Davis has four wins already in his quest to reclaim the crown won in 2001 and lost in 2002 in a Bonus Race showdown.
Charles Guenther (KC), best known in a Triumph GT6 racing GT3 the past few years, has a Datsun B210 for ITC and is leading that class. So when are we going to see that Chevy Monte Carlo in SP, Charles?
With three wins each so far, Dan Guterman (NeOk) is leading GT1 in a Panoz GTS, Shane Bennoch (OzMt) tops Formula Continental, and Patrick Donnelly (Kan) heads the Club Ford tally.
The Midwest Division I.T. Tour
Iím back doing points for the I.T. Tour this year, so drivers in that series will get their updates in this forum.
After two races, the closest class is ITS, where Jim Bishop (Miss) leads Doug Ford (MidS) by just two points.
Chris Albin (SIll) won both ITB races and heads Patrick Findley (MidS) by six. Seven points separates Bud Brazelton (MidS) from John Waldbaum (Neb) in ITE. David Harber (MidS) is nine up on Don Wiseman (MidS) in Spec Miata.
Having run just one race each so far, Nick Chinopulos (MidS) leads ITC while Paul A. Brown (KC) and Chris Wiggins (MidS) are tied atop ITA.
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While both the Mid-Am and the I.T. Tour are Regional-race series, a key difference is that the Mid-Am is a sign-in series (drivers must register) while the Tour scores all MiDiv drivers. Since Tour races are companion events to National races, the National-race scoring system prevails with one exception ó only MiDiv drivers can earn points.