Speed News April 2016

Speed News Magazine - The Official Magazine of the National Auto Sport Association

Issue link: http://mag.speednewsmag.com/i/662179

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Page 69 of 95

W E R C The Darkest Road in the West The Western Endurance Racing Championship kicks off 2016 at Willow Springs International Raceway The Western Endurance Racing Championship series regularly visits Buttonwillow Raceway, Thunderhill Raceway and even the Utah Motorsports Campus in Tooele, Utah, but it hasn't held an event at Willow Springs International Raceway in nearly a decade. Willow Springs is difficult enough during the daytime, but at night? Only the bravest need apply. Five of Willow Springs' nine turns are some of the fastest in the country and Rosamond, Calif., is so far from civilization that when the sun dips behind the ridge to the west, it gets dark. Really dark. Still, 17 teams signed up for the kickoff event, a three- hour race on Friday evening. To make things even more interesting, El NiƱo brought in showers for Friday afternoon practice and dumped more rain during the race. At the start, the track was wet, but drying. Tire choice was tough. Teams that had phone- based radar apps knew the rain was coming, but not whether it would last throughout the race. ES When the green flag dropped, Team Prototype Development leaped out to an early lead. The team had opted for rain tires and was practicing tire management until the rain came. "We figured we could make the tires last 30 minutes in the dry, so I was running rain tires from the start, praying for the rain to come in, and the rain finally came in just as I was getting passed by Troy (Lindstrom)," said Prototype Development driver Carl Rydquist. "Literally two turns later the rain came and I passed him back. He was on the slicks and we were on rains and we got a lap on everybody." By the end of the first hour, Team Coldcock Whiskey (Lindstrom) had recaptured the lead by making up three laps. Coldcock scored the fastest lap in the race at 1:30.547 in the process. That's flying on a dark, wet track. By the time the two-hour mark came around, Team Prototype Development's two chief competitors, Coldcock and TruSpeed had dropped out of the race, and Team Prototype Development nabbed the fastest lap at 1:26.904. "Then we were up front, and we could run our own race until we had to come in and change to the slicks," said Rydquist, adding that the rain tires were corded. "We were hoping for rain to come back in again, but we started to realized it's not happening. We're going to have to make a change. We're going to have to change to the slick tires." PHOTOS BY BRET T BECKER 70

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