ACRL: Romak's Lola Encore at Las Vegas
30 April 1998Las Vegas, NV -- The American City Racing League returned to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the 1998 season opener, racing on a new 2.25 mile configuration oval/road course. New chassis, teams, and drivers abounded in this series for Cosworth-powered Super Sports 2000 and Ford-powered Sports 2000 cars, but the old standby Lola in the hands of Team Fresno's Stephen Romak emerged with the victory. Romak had practiced well with his new Van Diemen, but a bearing failure in a rear upright and a lack of spares forced him to take last year's Lola out of mothballs. Romak grabbed the Daeco Pole Perfection award with a lap .9 second quicker than second place Peter Zarcades, who elected to run his highly-developed Swift DB5 rather than his recently acquired Lola. Romak's teammate John Ostlund qualified third ahead of first-time top five qualifiers Joe Giroski (Team Portland) and Bill Bachofner (Team San Francisco). Giroski showed a surprising turn of speed at the start, pulling even with Romak and Zarcades at the green. Unfortunately, he moved a little too early, and received a stop and go penalty for his trouble. He spent the remainder of the race climbing through the field to an eventual fifth place finish. Ostlund lost power at the start, and retired after only eight laps. Up front, Romak and Zarcades motored away from the field, while Bachofner settled into third and Team Seattle's Dennis Pavlina, late to the grid, charged through the field from last to fourth with his new Doran chassis. Most of the racing was for the next four spots, with Las Vegas' Chris Ronson running fifth early on before gradually sliding back to eighth. Edd Ozard, the lone Team Reno entry, had a race-long battle with the Team San Diego Carbirs driven by series newcomers Fiorenzo Tirinnanzi and John Lombardo. Tirinnanzi finished sixth and Ozard seventh, while Lombardo lost three spots on the last lap to finish ninth behind Ronson.
The "B" cars, the Ford-powered Sports 2000 machines, waged their own battle. Defending Champion Frank Arnold of Team Fresno started from the "B" pole, but had his hands full with John Bachofner (Team San Francisco) and Jay Messenger (Team San Diego) for much of the race. At the finish it was Arnold (10th overall), Bachofner (11th overall) and Messenger (13th overall), all a lap down to Romak. Team Fresno took the team win, with Romak's first place and Arnold's 10th combining for 167 points to 163 for Team Las Vegas.
The American City Racing League will race next at Phoenix International Raceway on May 2-3.