ACRL: ACRL East Inaugural Race Results
20 May 1998Topeka, KS -- The American City Racing League East Inaugural race at Topeka's Heartland Park with Pro SCCA and NASCAR Winston West was an unqualified success among participants, boding well for an expanding series. Hoosier Tires and Motorsports Composites teamed up to sponsor the event, which was dominated by 1997 Sports 2000 National Champion David Downey. Driving for Team Columbus, Ohio, Downey set fast practice time, captured the pole, and won the race in convincing fashion. Behind him, there was some close racing, as six city teams vied for driver points and the team championship. Downey departed at the green flag, leaving Team Chicago's Martin Ryba to battle for second spot with Duke Johnson of Team St. Louis. Ryba punctured a Hoosier ACRL Spec tire on lap 8 and retired, leaving Johnson in sole possession of second place. Running all alone in third after Ryba's retirement was Dan Dubrovich of Team New York, while a fierce three-car battle waged for fourth through sixth behind him. Dubrovich's teammate John Burke started fifth, but lost the spot to San Diego's Jay Messenger on lap seven while Team Kansas City's Bob Henson dogged the pair in sixth. All three drivers moved up a spot with Ryba's retirement, but Messenger soon lost a half-shaft and coasted to a halt. This left Burke to battle with local racer Henson. Henson got by on lap twelve, which put Team St. Louis in the team points lead with 169 to New York's 168. Burke regained the fourth position on lap 16 and held the position to the checker, combining with Dubrovich's third for the team win at 172 points. After Team St. Louis driver Jeff Clinton started a lap down due to a throttle cable problem on the parade lap, he spent the event chasing team-mate Clint Lindburg II. The pair ended sixth and seventh respectively, with Clinton setting the third fastest time of the race.
Both Henson and Messenger had problems in qualifying, Henson with a sheared bolt in the left rear suspension and Messenger with an oil leak that rendered his rear tires less than optimally sticky. Johnson also had problems in practice with a broken rocker and leaking rear shock, but recovered to qualify third. In the race, Downey's car was flawless until the last turn of the last lap, when first gear broke, leaving him with only second gear to limp to Victory Circle. Downey still managed to set fastest race lap on the final circuit.
Competitor enthusiasm for the ACRL East after the race was high, resulting with plans to go ahead with at least one or two more tentative dates in 1998. Subject to the success of these 1998 races, ACRL East plans to stage a full eight-race Pro S-2000 series in 1999.