American Iron Race Report

July 9th & 10th 2004

 

The Midwest American Iron group would again visit the beautiful Autobahn Country Club in Joliet Illinois.  The weekend would prove to be quite hectic with the Nextel Cup, and Busch series races only 1 mile away at the NASCAR track.  Getting to the track early and using back roads proved to be a wise decision to avoid the MAJOR traffic in the area going to the NASCAR race.  The weather forecast predicted temperatures around 95 with high humidity and did not disappoint. 

 

Saturday qualifying again had the usual cast of characters all with in one second of each other.  This is proving to be a common occurrence in the Midwest region.  The fast times for the session kept being lowered time and time again by Kevin Benoit, Matt Erickson, and Brain Groth, but it was Bob Denton who captured the AI pole and 4 pole points with a 1:38.373.  The AIX battle was a bit less contested with Chris Griswold posting fast time in the session with a 1:33.751.  Complete qualifying results ended as follows:

Saturday Qualifying:

AI

1. Denton         1:38.373

2. Groth           1:38.666

3. Erickson       1:39.084

4. Benoit          1:39.180

5. Algozine       1:41.060

6. Henderson    1:42.137

7. Franklin        1:42.392

8. White           1:43.710

9. Herzog         1:44.833

10. McElwrath 1:54.613

 

AIX:

1. Griswold      1:33.751

2. Borton          1:40.362

3. Venhaus       No time

 

The race on Saturday started with Griswold getting the AIX jump on the field after the green flag.  Borton started 8th after some problems in qualifying, but was in second place behind Griswold after only one lap.  Borton would give chase, but Griswold slowly stretched the lead each lap until Borton would pull off with four laps to go giving second place in AIX to Dave Venhaus in his Mustang. The AI race was again hotly contested as Bob Denton and Brian Groth would have a great battle going into turn one with Groth pulling up alongside of Denton under braking but had some lockup during the maneuver.  Denton saw the tire smoke, and broke a little harder to pull the classic pass/re-pass and Groth shot by him from the inside to the outside wide in turn 1.  While Brian gathered it back up Denton reassumed the lead into turn 2 and pulled into the lead clear by turn 3. Franklin got by Henderson on the back straight and later caught up to Algozine until he went off in 1 doing a couple donuts before getting back on the track. Kevin Benoit who was in his first AI race after his rookie signoff had qualified third, but both he and Venhaus in AIX were using car #80 (Benoit purchased Venhausí old car, hence the two #80ís), and since Venhaus showed up to grid first, Benoit had to start in the back of the field.  The Franklin / Algozine battle had allowed Benoit to catch up by this time and was all over Franklin.  Franklin eventually left the door open on the last right hander before the front straight and he got by for 3rd. Right after that Franklin had a plug wire come off and melt down and fell back but managed to hold on to 4th place.  During the race, due to some off track excursions, at least 8 cones have been deposited on the track surface, some of them in the racing line.  This caused some rather interesting lines throughout the race.  Henderson had hit a cone and broke his front spoiler causing overheating and he had to pull off.  Back up front, Denton lead Groth nose to tail for nearly half the race until Groth made a mistake in turn 4 and gave Denton a gap for the later part of the race.  Brian gave chase to Denton and closed in the finial few laps but was unable to get by him as Denton took the checkered flag.  Race results for Saturday were as follows.

AI:

1. Denton         1:39.9

2. Erickson       1:39.7

3. Benoit          1:39.6

4. Franklin        1:40.7

5. Herzog         1:41.6

6. White           1:45.2

7. Groth           1:39.1

8. Algozine       1:40.7

9. Henderson    1:42.5

10. McElwrath 2:44.2

 

AIX:

1. Griswold      1:34.6

2. Venhaus       1:40.1

3. Borton          1:37.1

Sunday qualifying again had Griswold and his DSS Racing/Maximum Motorsports Mustang at the top with a track record 1:33.298 on his first lap and decided that was good enough in the hot weather and pulled in.  Lawrence Mansier was piloting Gene Bortonís Mid Coast Performance Mustang for the first time ever.  Some problems in qualifying did not allow Lawrence to get a clean lap so he would start at the back of the field.  The AI battle in qualifying was as usual a hotly contested battle with Kevin Benoit grabbing the pole with a 1:38.632.  The next four positions were all within a quarter of a second as follows:

Sunday Qualifying AI:

1. Benoit          1:38.632

2. Denton         1:39.432

3. Erickson       1:39.434

4. Franklin        1:39.530

5. Groth           1:39.683

6. Algozine       1:40.842

7. White           1:43.177

AIX:

1. Griswold      1:33.298***

2. Mansier        3:01.661

Sundayís race would prove even hotter than the day before with air temperatures in the mid nineties. The race started as a nicely grouped bunch of cars took the green flag with Griswold sprinting out to an early lead.  Mansier starting from the back made quick work of a bunch of GTS cars, a couple of Miatas and even a couple AI cars at the start and found himself following Brian Groth when Sidney Franklin had terminal transmission problems which caused Mansier, and Groth to take evasive action into the grass. Mansier eventually got by Groth after turn 6, Erickson in turn 13, and came up on the Denton-Benoit battle in lap two.  Denton made a small mistake which separated the two allowing Mansier to get by and follow Benoit through turns 4 and 5.  Lawrence then got along side of Benoit in turn 6 went a bit wide forcing Benoit to get a little agricultural.  It was all fine however as Benoit recovered maintained the lead over Denton.  Mansier now set his sites on Griswold about a straightaway ahead by this time, when he noticed the clutch starting to slip.  That would eventually end his race early, as the battle with Griswold would have to wait for another day.

Sunday Race AI:

1. Benoit          1:38.349

2. Denton         1:38.119

3. Groth           1:37.989***

4. Erickson       1:39.076

5. White           1:43.871

6. Algozine       1:42.026

7. Franklin        2:45.881

AIX:

1. Griswold      1:34.777

2. Mansier        1:35.903

 

*** indicates a track record in that class

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