To say race 8 of the Jim Russell F3 racing series was exciting may be an understatement, so let’s go with barnstormer! In fact the buzz was high before the race as an extremely tight qualifying had everyone ready for an action packed event. On the front row were Doug “Ninja” Tuttle in P1 with race debutant and Hammer Nutrition guru Brian Frank alongside. Both drivers traded fast lap in Quali with Tuttle the victor in the end, row 2 saw Mark Schiller back in action with Jim Catchot next in line, followed by, Schauerman, Lochner, Irwin, Block & a much improved Walter Kuhn.
The race start was clean but very soon the battles started to emerge all the way through the field as Tuttle & Frank made a break away, then next was Catchot, Schiller and Dan Lochner with an impressive turn of pace. Our third battle was perhaps the most exciting as Schauerman, Block, Kuhn & Irwin staged an almighty war with side by side action throughout the early laps even including the perilous Sonoma esses!
Brian Frank made the first pass for the lead on lap 3 as the two re-ignited their battle for supremacy from qualifying, but Tuttle was not done yet. Further afield Race 7’s 3rd place finisher Schauerman(6th) started to make up for his slow start and began to pick up the pace and chase the intense 3-way battle for 3rd as an extremely entertaining fight still raged between Block, Kuhn & Irwin.
There was passing action at both ends of the track as turns 7 & 11 made for several examples of the classic pass / re-pass but lap 8 saw 2 major changes in the standing as Tuttle got back by Frank, both drivers seeming not to like the lead role and changing lines allowing the other to close back in. Schauerman was on the charge and got by Lochner on lap 8, & Schiller on lap 9 and set about chasing down that final podium spot held by the “nearly French” Jim Catchot.
Lap 11 saw Frank sizing up Tuttle again as he made a setup in 11 and got the run past start finish to get inside through the daunting turn 1-2 complex , a great move that Tuttle in the end could not find an answer to as Brian had sized up Doug mid–race to not allow another move before the checker, although Tuttle kept him honest just inches off his gearbox. Also Dan Lochner set his fastest lap of the day while getting by Schiller for 5th.
But the race was not over yet, not by a long way. Schauerman still improving every lap ran down Catchot to claim 3rd spot, who made a mistake the following lap allowing Lochner & Schiller by. Sadly the much improved pace of Walter Kuhn was not to reap any rewards as Walter got it wrong exiting turn 3 clouting the wall and ending his day. The yellow flag at turn 3 caught a few drivers napping and Lochner made up 3 secs on Schauerman to be able to put the pressure on into turn 9 for the last time, it nearly paid off as they were side by side on the exit, but John just managed to hold Dan off to hold the final podium spot.
The pink Mumm champagne soaked all nearby as Brian Frank celebrated his victory in true style, a fantastic show by all.
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