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Old 08-04-2005, 10:12 AM   #1
justagt
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American Iron race report from VIR North

The 2005 American Iron season continued on the last weekend of July at the always impressive VIR, running on the 2.25 mile North Course. After a very hot and humid weekend at Summit Point just two weeks earlier, everyone was hoping for some good weather to go along with the good racing.

Saturday started nice and cool, but things quickly heated up when AI front runner Bryan Shugg raised the bar in morning practice by setting a new unofficial American Iron track record of 1:40.894 in his True Blue Performance/Cobalt Brakes Mustang. By the time the mid-afternoon qualifying session was over, Shugg was again up front on the overall pole with rookie Andy Kirby lining up second while setting the AIX pace with a 1:41.253. Lining up second in the AI group was another front runner, Beau Dunnivant in his Blue Oval Classics Mustang, followed by Scott Whitson, Christian Shriver, Don Smith, and Jim Pantas, who was back in the car while taking a break from running NASA-SE. Behind Kirby, the AIX drivers were as follows: Terry Killian, Stephen Jones, and Al Pyne. Andy Killian took the pole in the brand new AI vintage class with Nelson Grossnickle second.

The race began with the always exciting standing start. Shugg and Terry Killian jumped out to an early lead with the rest of the field, led by Dunnivant, trying to chase them down. Shugg lead Killian for a few laps until Killian made a well executed pass on Shugg. Killian finished first overall and in the AIX class with Shugg first in the AI class. A solid run by Dunnivant brought him home in second, with Whitson, Shriver, Smith, and Pantas. Killian was never challenged in the AIX field due to seond place finisher Al Pyne being caught back in traffic and Andy Kirby busting a power steering line while the car were sitting on the false grid. Andy Killian's wicked quick '65 fastback took him to a Vintage win.

On Sunday, engines weren't the only thing storming VIR. The weather was in the process of dumping a bunch of rain on the track and this resulted in only a few guys heading out for the AM practice. Following the qualifying session on a mostly dried out track, Dunnivant emerged as both the AI and overall pole sitter. Kirby had the AIX pole for the second straight day, but a yellow flag violation during qualifying meant Jones inherited the pole for the Extreme group. Behind Dunnivant, Shugg, Whitson, Shriver and Pantas would take the green in that order. Jones would lead fellow AIX drivers Kirby and newcomer James Pacileo to the green. Terry Killian, Andy Killian, and Pyne were unable to make the grid on this day. Kirby would be trying to make his way to the front following his qualifying DQ and Pacileo was making his required start at the back of the grid due to this being his first race, having earned his comp license on Friday.

At the standing start, Dunnivant nearly stalled the car, but was able to save it after getting the clutch in. Unfortunately for him, this let Shugg and Whitson get next to him. After some racing contact between Shugg and Dunnivant, the 3 headed off into one with Shugg out front and Whitson and Dunnivant door to door. Dunnivant cleared Whistson and set off after Shugg. A couple of laps later, he made a wicked pass on Shugg, getting him under braking heading into turn one. The two were side by side for the next couple of corners which allowed Whitson to catch up. Dunnivant cleared Shugg after turn 3, but now Shugg had to contend with Whitson. They went off into 4 side by side and while the trio was going through the flat esses, Shugg was off in the grass while the other two pulled ahead. Shugg was able to keep the car going straight, but lost about 5 seconds to the leader. Dunnivant pulled out to about a second over Whitson. Dunnivant had the lead for the next couple of laps until he ran up on a much slower car in the Rollercoaster portion of the track that ended with him spinning out and losing the lead. This left Whitson out front with Shugg, now about 3 seconds behind, in the lead. Their positions remained the same and when on the last lap, Whitson ran up on some slower traffic. Shugg tucked in right behind him while heading into the last corner of the last lap. The slower car stayed track left and this forced Whitson to take a tighter exit out of the right-hand corner. Whitson left just enough room for Shugg to squeeze in between himself and the slower car. This set up a drag race to the finish. With the crowd pumped up and screaming, the two went flying towards the finish line door to door and when it was over, Shugg pulled out his second win of the weekend by only half a car length. When the results were handed down, Shugg had won by only .14 of a second over Whitson in what has to be one of the closest finished in AI history. After recovering from his spin, Dunnivant scored another podium finish by coming home third. He also established a new official track record of 1:40.904. Shriver and Pantas rounded out the top 5 AI cars.

On the AIX front, Kirby was able to make the start this day after fixing his faulty power steering line. He started working his way through the field and took the lead when Terry Killian dropped out due to mechanical issues. However, Kirby just couldn't sit back and cruise to his first AIX win. Stephen Jones was having a good race and reeling in Kirby. Kirby was able to hold onto the lead and finished 3 seconds ahead of Jones and third place finisher Jim Pacileo. Pacileo was making his first start in AIX and had a nice race long battle with Pantas.

After two race weekend in three weeks, the AI guys are looking forward to a rest, but will soon return to the beautiful VIR track for the 2nd Annual Stock Car Spectacular Weekend on Labor Day weekend. This annual event, hosted by VIR, brings in a couple of thousand excited spectators and guarantees some great American Iron racing!! For more info on this weekend, check out www.virclub.com and get your tickets now!
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Old 08-04-2005, 10:43 AM   #2
Admiral
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Wow, great writeup and congratulations to Mr. Shugg for pulling off the wins!
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Old 08-07-2005, 11:01 AM   #3
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Where can I find race reports from eariler races? Thanks
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