TA2 Muscle Car Series leader Jett Johnson has had his points lead reduced to 87 points after Kyle Gurton won Race 1 of the final round at Winton Motor Raceway.
Johnson’s weekend started on the back foot after suffering an engine failure during Friday’s practice, and receiving a ten championship point penalty for failing to attend the drivers briefing this morning.
In qualifying, Jackson Rice, driving the Immix Ford Mustang, surprised the field by setting the fastest time early, only to be bumped by Dream Racing teammate Kyle Gurton later in the session with a 1.24.3. Series frontrunner Mark Crutcher jumped into second overall, three-tenths slower from Rice, Nicholas Bates and Johnson’s NAPA Auto Parts Mustang. Graham Cheney, Zac Loscalpio, South Australia’s Brad Gartner, John Holinger and Michael Coulter all made the Top 10 Shootout, although Gartner was bumped back with a five spot grid penalty and Kubota Racing’s Matt Mackelden filled the spot, making a return to the sport following a large hit at Bathurst earlier in the year.
The shootout was held on a wet track, with Rice turning the tables on team mate Gurton to take pole with a 1.44.6, eight-tenths faster to win the PWR Pole Award and $500 cash. Coulter’s Kobelco Mustang slotted into third from Bates and Johnson.
Due to the conditions, Race 1 started under safety car with both Zac Loscialpo and Lee Stibbs going off at Turn 1, while John Holinger was up to fifth at the end of the first lap.
Peter Robinson was the only driver to roll the dice and run Hoosier slicks on a drying track, but struggled early to stay in touch with the field. Brad Gartner passed Mark Crutcher under brakes into Turn 3, and Graham Cheney a lap later.
Johnson was struggling with lower tyre pressures and was battling with Bates, Gartner and Holinger, with Gartner passing Johnson into Turn 9.
Robinson in the Wagner Corp Dodge started to come alive mid race and ran side by side with Crutcher into Turn 11 before going on to set the fastest lap, while Gurton closed on Rice for the race lead going around the outside at Turn 1 on Lap 12.
Rice, now running in second then went off at the Turn 6 sweeper, letting Gartner who had a strong drive from the back of the field into second, while Loscialpo slowed in the Tempest Solutions Camaro with a flat tyre.
Robinson continued his charge forward into fourth, while Johnson now had improved tyre pressures and ran down Gartner right on the finish line for second by just one-tenth.
Gurton’s Nuveau Mustang won by two and a half seconds from Johnson, Gartner, with Robinson and Coulter, Bates, Cheney, Rice, Stibbs and Crutcher rounding out the top 10.
TA2 Northern Series champ Graham Cheney struggled to finish the 15 lap race in seventh after coming out of hospital earlier in the week, but remains 87 points of Johnson’s series lead.
Only 38 points separate Bates and Mark Crutcher in the Circo Master Class with three more 12 lap races tomorrow to determine the 2022 TA2 Muscle Car Series – framed by HYTEK winner.
Tomorrow’s races will be live streamed on the TA2 and AMRS Facebook pages and replayed on 7MATE free to air on December 12.
Kyle Gurton #2 Micale Cabinets/Nuveau Group Ford Mustang
“I spent those last ten or nine laps just sitting behind Jackson [Rice] working out where he is strong.
“I had an opportunity coming down the main straight, Jackson went a bit wide on the wet stuff.
“I put my stuff up on the dash and went around the outside of turn one, it was a bit hairy out of one and two but I got the move done and got the win.”