PSCR: Speedracing Wins First Time Out!
21 March 1998
SEBRING, FL March 21, 1998 Poise, skill and luck determined the outcome of the rain-drenched four-hour Speedvision Cup race for street stock race cars at historic Sebring International Raceway this weekend. SPEEDRACING came through with a debut victory in the Compact class. Driving a Honda del Sol VTEC, team drivers Jim Dentici and Steve Nowicki drove to a comfortable victory over tough opposition from a score of Mazda Miatas and a Nissan Sentra, in a race that started with an absolute downpour and ended with a drying track, a rainbow, and a great sunset. Poise: Crew Chief Michael Engelke played strategy to the team's advantage by calling for fuel and a driver change with one hour and 45 minutes to go in the race, allowing Nowicki to run to the finish without another stop and making up track position. "We weren't really sure how long the car would go on a tank of fuel, but were confident we could make it to the end considering the conditions," said Engelke. "We came out right where we left off in third place, and had to make a run to the finish." Dentici, Nowicki and the other 58 starters had to endure unbelievable conditions to get to the finish. Just as the green flag dropped for the start, it rained so hard that the race was red flagged on the second lap with reports of standing water on the track of up to 12 inches in certain areas. Skill: At the restart, Dentici had to navigate the standing water that was still on the track with the skill of a three time National Driving Champion. Said Dentici; "Turn one was a tough one. It was so bad that I had to press in the clutch to get the front tires to rotate under braking so that the car would turn. It was hard to see where the turn in points were making it very difficult to get the braking done right and stay on the track." Nowicki ran the last leg that started in a steady rain, and ended on a predominantly dry but slippery track. " It was like a rally out there, especially when the track dried and the rain tires were out of their element," said Nowicki. " I don't think this is quite like the F1 boys with their treaded tires, but it took a bit of finesse to keep the car under control at times. I thought it was great! Once I was in first place I came upon Miata after Miata, it seemed like they wouldn't leave me alone and kept multiplying as I tried to lap them. As it turned out, that was a bit of fun." Luck: The Nissan Sentra was the fastest car on the track all weekend, and opened up a sizeable lead over the SPEEDRACING Honda when a yellow flag with 50 minutes to go closed the competition. After passing the Protomotove Mazda for second place, a pit stop for the leading Nissan placed the top three cars virtually nose to tail for a 45 minute sprint to the finish: Honda, Mazda and Nissan. "I was worried that the Nissan had changed to dry tires during the last stop, but we didn't think that was the case," said Nowicki. "At that point I knew one of two things were going to happen. He would either drop back a bit on the restart because the second driver wouldn't know where the slick parts were, so I had to make a go for it before he caught back up. Or, he would try to go too fast and slide off the road. We were lucky today because I saw him go straight off at the hairpin. About that time the rainbow came out, so I had it in the bag as long as I kept it on the road." This was the second consecutive class win for Nowicki at Sebring, and puts the team first in points in the nine race series sanctioned by Professional Sports Car Racing. The next race is at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, April 25th, and SPEEDRACING expects to enter two cars in that event. SPEEDRACING is a partnership between Steve Nowicki, Michael Engelke, and Jerry Indermuehle, and consists of crewmembers Mark Greenisen, Patricia Hurm and Jerry Zimmerman. King Motorsports Unlimited, Valley Graphics, SPEEDESIGN, and Eagle's Nest Galleries are partners with SPEEDRACING.