The last of the team trucks slowly rolled into the Talladega paddock. And a terrible reality dawned on the crowd. They saw that Watkins Glen had been but a feeble shimmer of hope. The Trans-Am series might have started under nothing but good signs. Its season end had nothing but dire and drab remnants of greatness in decline on offer.
Goissen looked set on doing anything to keep his championship claims alive and dully secured pole. Le Pihive settled for second but was, as a matter of fact, the one driving on easy street. Simply scoring some points in every remaining race more than sufficed to keep him at the top of the championship tables. Which, in view of the small grids, looked much less of a task than one would generally expect. But then, in racing nothing is ever guaranteed…
Plaçais clocked third and was followed by Schurer in her yellow and black AMC. Jereb in an Alfa and Canton in a second AMC rounded out the top 6 of the grid.
Dana Schurer had a messy start to her Talladega campaign. She spun the fierce Javelin on lap one and then again on lap 4, hitting some obstacles while at it. It threw her back to a 10th position from where she started a steady ascent through the ranks. Her rise was mainly the result of others’ bad luck though, as the AMC had incurred damage and proved a real handful to keep pointed in the right direction.
Seventeen laps of wrestling the unruly Javelin proved all Dana was willing to endure and she retired the car.
Dana was not the only pony car to face tough commencements. Detroit’s finest White saw an excellent 8th on the grid vanish through a set of troublesome opening laps. By lap 7, he had fallen back to 12th. There he stumbled on fellow Mustang-driver Alain Maurice and the two of them put on quite a show for the fans, swapping positions several times over the course of the ensuing laps.
The Frenchman was however destined to meet his fate in a collision with Becnel, ending his race on lap 33.
Ben Paulet had by that time already retired his Camaro. As had TA2-championship contender Le Pihive. The Frenchman’s ride on easy street came to an abrupt end. Somewhere halfway through lap 7 all electrics on his car went AWOL. His race ended prematurely.
The interminable flat-out stretch along the best part of Talladega’s oval proved more than Ray Riddal’s Alfa-Romeo was willing to take. On lap 42, his engine blew while the brave Brit was in the pits for some fuel.
Martinelli, also on Alfa Romeo, fared much better in the race. He started only thirteenth, but a steady race combined to a resourceful pit strategy only pitting for fuel once, allowed him to gain many places and finish fifth overall. He even took second in the TA2-class.
None of it as much as preoccupied Goissen. After Le Pihive’s untimely demise, he stormed off to a crushing lead, eventually lapping the entire field on route to another brilliant victory. Le Pihive’s electric gremlins also allowed the Basque ace to reduce the gap to Le Pihive with fourteen points. With the gap still at a solid 30 points, Le Pihive however still looks as holding the best cards for the final outcome.
Talladega, with its long stretch of speedway, proved good grounds for the Mopar monsters to stretch their large cubic legs. Plaçais took second overall in his Cuda, sealing a perfect operation championship wise with closest rival Parker absent.
Third and fourth spots were also captured by TA1 cars: Titz’ 68 Camaro and Becnel’s 70 Firebird. And with three more TA1-cars in the top 10, Talladega turned out to be Detroit’s best showing so far.
Mopar expectations for Riverside are however of a more humble kind. But then one never knows… Looking at how things have been going lately, it might well be that no TA2-cars turn up at all in the Moreno Valley.