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SonomaMajor-2018-recap


Sonoma Major

Race report from Sonoma Major Races June 29 - July 1, 2018

 

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SonomaMajor-2018-recap


Sonoma Major

Race report from Sonoma Major Races June 29 - July 1, 2018

 

Nicky Hays scores 2 poles, and 1 win!

June 29 - July 1, 2018

Nicky explains how he is so fast, while his dad Rich, Brad, and Doug Jr listen in.

The Sonoma Major brought  a strong field of cars, as this was the only chance to tackle the tricky Sonoma Raceway prior to this year's Runoffs. A total of 19 Formula F cars were on the entry list, including former IndyCar winner Alex Barron. 

Thursday testing gave everyone a chance to shake down cars and learn the track. But the large grouping of cars for the test sessions meant no one was able to turn great lap times. And since timing and scoring was not up and running, it was difficult to judge our pace against the competition.

Friday morning would bring the first official session, so we would see how we stacked up against the competition. Nicky Hays would finish the session in P1, followed by Chuck Horn and Alex Barron rounding out the top three positions. Piper DL7 designer Doug Learned, Jr would put his new car in P7, while Brad Hayes would clock in the 10th best time. 

Friday afternoon brought a lot of heat with temps in the 90's. We decided not to run new sticker tires in this session as the high temps would likely impact ultimate performance. Many of the other front running teams did decide to run sticker tires. Alex Barron would finish the first qualifying session in P1, Chuck Horn was second, and Nicky Hays ended up third. Not a bad result. And we had confidence going in to the cooler Saturday morning qualifying session, knowing we still had sticker tires waiting to be used.

Saturday morning's second qualifying session would take place in much cooler conditions. All of the Fast Forward prep'd cars would opt for new sticker tires. Doug Learned would also make some damper adjustments to take full advantage of the tires in the cooler conditions. Nicky would take full advantage, and clock a lap of 1:42.799. Nicky would end up being the only FF driver to dip in to the 1:42 second range all weekend. So the time was good enough to put him on the pole for both of the weekend's races. Alex Barron would end up second with a lap of 1:43.285. Chuck Horn, Skip Streets, and Eric Little would round out the top 5. Brad Hayes would move up from 10th in Q1 to end up 6th in Q2.

 Alex Barron's signature on the bent wheel that resulted from contact between Alex and Nicky in Race 1.

Alex Barron's signature on the bent wheel that resulted from contact between Alex and Nicky in Race 1.

Race 1

Saturday afternoon would bring Race 1 for the weekend. Nicky would take the lead on the start. But Alex Barron took advantage of a missed shift by Nicky to take the lead going in to turn 1 on the second lap. Later that lap, things would get a little dicey. Nicky made a move to the inside of Alex entering Turn 7. By the middle of the turn they were side by side and touched tires. Unfortunately Alex's car suffered some damage and he would retire. Nicky would go on to lead the remainder of the race, turning the fast lap of the race, and taking the win! All with a bent toe link, and a slightly bent front left wheel. Skip Streets would finish second in his Piper DF5.

Further back in the pack, Brad also had a good race. Mixing it up with John Brandstad for much of the race. In the end, John would hold off Brad to claim the final podium position in 3rd, and Brad would finish a close 4th.

After the race, Nicky and Alex talked about the incident, and agreed there were no hard feelings. Alex even left Nicky with a memorable souvenir, when he autographed the bent wheel that resulted from the contact. This is part of what FF racing is all about, young drivers getting a chance to mix it up with much more experienced racers....in the end it is a great learning experience. 

Race 2

For Sunday's race, Nicky Hays would once again take advantage of his pole starting position, leading the first ten laps of the race holding off pressure from Alex Barron, Chuck Horn, and Skip Streets. On lap 10, Nicky and Skip would touch in the turn 6 carousel. Alex took advantage, jumped from 3rd to 1st, and would lead the remainder of the race to take the Race 2 win. Nicky would finish second, and Skip third. 

Brad was again in his own battles a bit further back in the pack. Throughout the race he was swapping positions back and forth with Rick Payne, John Brandstad, Eric Little, and Ed Erlandson. Late in the race, Brad tried to get a run on John Brandstad for 5th position coming out of the tight turn 11. But Brad would spin on the exit of the corner, losing a few positions. He would recover but end up finishing 8th in FF.

It is also worth mentioning the great run that Jeff Jorgenson had in his F500 class car in race 2. He moved through the FF field, and took the overall win for the combined FF, FV, F500 race group.

Overall it was great weekend of FF racing. A big field, fierce competition, and great preparation for the upcoming SCCA Runoffs National Championships. The Fast Forward crew of Doug Learned Sr and Doug Learned Jr have the cars well tuned for the Sonoma track. Nicky has provem that he has the pace to run with anyone. With more seat time and testing to come over the rest of the summer, we are looking forward to battling at the front of the pack when we return to Sonoma in October. 

Full results from the weekend can be found on Race Hero.

Check back soon for in car videos from the Sonoma races....


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