Photo Credit: Anthony Porta
Day one of the 2015 Tire Rack Crows Landing Championship Tour did nothing to help California’s drought, with high temperatures close to 90 degrees causing people and tires to guzzle down water.
Typical of a runway course, the first leg out was limited by the width of the runway and opened up more in the second half. The course rewarded those that looked ahead, and while not technical, proved to be very cone-intensive and led to many DNF’s. The track was really dirty in the morning, with big plumes of dust being thrown up from the cars.
In the first heat, brothers Justin and Mack Tsang were favorites to win the strong, 20-person STX class, and the siblings did not disappoint, as Justin edged Mack by half a second to take the initial lead.
In CSL, Rachel Kerswill has a commanding three-second lead in that four-person group, while co-drivers Geoff Clark and Caitlin Snell are one-two in ASP in their Mitsubishi Evo, and Eric Williams leads FSP by two-tenths over Dave Jackson. Co-drivers Zach Morgan and Josh McCall, separated by 0.249, have the day-one advantage in SSR over favorites Shelly Monfort and Ken Mollenauer.
Pictured: National Timing Staff Member, Robert Christmas and CM/CML drivers, Mari and Eric Clements
In the front wheel drive classes, Des Toups holds the HS advantage by 0.674 over Navid Kahangi. Robert Green is almost one and a half seconds ahead of Adam McCausland in SMF, while Joseph Austin leads STF by 1.2 seconds. GS favorite Mark Scroggs took care of business on Saturday going up by three seconds.
Two-driver cars seemed to really have the benefit on day one. In CS, for example, Jason and Jonathan Stroud are in the first two trophy spots in this 16-person class. "It’s good to have a lead, but it’s a tentative lead," Jason explained. "I had a lead after the first day at Dixie and didn’t win, so it doesn’t mean anything yet."
There are also some co-drivers duking it out by the narrowest of margins: in DS, Justin Moore is only 0.196 ahead of John Tritsch. The closest co-driver battle is in BSP, with Steve O'Blenes taking a .035 of a second lead over Anthony Porta. "The car was phenomenal!" O'Blenes exclaimed. "I just have to drive clean tomorrow." O'Blenes and Porta rank second and third respectively in overall PAX for the day.
In a sport dominated by pushing the limits, C-Mod provided some drama in the middle of their run group, as two cars broke down and one was towed out with a broken suspension. Of the remaining cars, Jonathan Clement holds the lead over George Schilling by 1.755 seconds. In B-Mod, Matt Ellam DNF’d on his first run, then set a 48.613 on his second to claim overall PAX for the day, but DNF’d on his third with the car being towed off course.
Pictured: The Ellam BM Car had some day one troubles...
Big comebacks were also made on last runs: Scott Fraser utilized a clean third run in the 13-car CAM-S class to take a nine-tenths advantage over Dan Bratten. In JB, Robert Ekstrand was the beneficiary of a good third run to edge Mick Maier by 1.8 seconds, while Sebastian Rios used a clean third run to leapfrog to the top of the 12-person STR class, leading Praneil Prasad by just .037 seconds.
However, third laps could be used for fun—like Steve Ekstrand still holding on to the day-one lead despite an epic spin in his third lap to go up sixth-tenths ahead of Oliver Taylor. "I don't think I've had the lead after the first day in years," Ekstrand joked.
David de Regt got cleaner in each of his three runs, ultimately pulling out a 54.896 in his 2006 Lotus Elise to inch ahead of Boby Bundy in SSM. Not bad for a car that is making its debut today.