Posted: Sep 01, 2015
OPTIMA's Search for the Ultimate Street Car GTV Points Chase Post-Road America
OPTIMA's Search for the Ultimate Street Car, presented by Advance Auto Parts, has now visited eight of nine regular season venues. Only the final qualifying event of the year at Auto Club Speedway now remains. Only three notable changes in the standings took place at Road America within the top-ten in points, so let's have a look at how the currently stand-
|1.||Kyle Tucker||1970 Chevrolet Camaro||568.6||YES||-|
|2.||Chris Porter||1986 Porsche 948||480.6||NO||-|
|3.||Larry Woo||1968 Chevrolet Camaro||478.7667||NO||-|
|4.||Mike Maier||1966 Ford Mustang||449.3667||YES||-|
|5.||Tony Grzelakowski||1970 Chevrolet Chevelle||425.4133||NO||-|
|6.||Keith Corrigan||1968 Chevrolet Camaro||405.7467||NO||-|
|7.||Jake Rozelle||1969 Chevrolet Camaro||352.7333||YES||-|
|8.||Mike Hamrick||1966 Ford Mustang||333.3657||NO||-|
|9.||Chris Smith||1972 Chevrolet Corvette||317.9||YES||-|
|10.||Kevin Tully||1964 Plymouth Valiant||289.5067||NO||+2|
The first notable change is that Kyle Tucker's finish at Road America actually extended his points lead over second-place Chris Porter's Porsche. Tucker notched the highest point total of the weekend at Elkhart Lake, which added about 3.5 points to his lead. Based on Kyle's performance in four events so far this season, we anticipate he'll finish the year with about 677 points. However, as the old adage in motorsports says, "in order to finish first, you must first finish." We'll take a look at how the rest of the top-ten may shake out in a moment, but first, let's look at the other notable changes within the top-ten.
Mike Hamrick's performance at Road America added to his season-long point total and brought his 1966 Ford Mustang to within 20 points of seventh-place Jake Rozelle's 1969 Camaro. Kevin Tully's '64 Plymouth Valiant also moved up two positions and into the top-ten at Road America, displacing Billy Utley's '72 Chevy Nova for the tenth position. Outside of those moves, everything else remained the same within the top-ten. Maier and Rozelle did compete at Road America, but their point totals did not change as a result.
Just outside the top-ten, there was quite a bit of shuffling, as Rob MacGregor's '69 Chevy C10, Danny King's '69 Z/28 Camaro and Jim Stehlin's '73 Camaro all moved up in the standings. Stehlin had already received an OUSCI invite earlier in the year, but King was the top finisher in GTV, who had not yet received an invite, so his ticket was punched for his fourth-place finish. MacGregor was given a bonus invite to the OUSCI, which was not announced prior to the Road America event, but has happened in past years, where more entries were awarded at that event than originally expected or previously-announced.
With that business taken care of, we now turn our attention to the final qualifying event at Fontana, which will take place on the weekend of October 10th and 11th at Auto Club Speedway. Just four of the top-ten competitors in the GTV class have secured invitations for the OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational, so it should come as no surprise that six of the top-ten competitors are registered for the field in Fontana. That event sold out for competitors weeks ago and the GTV class is absolutely massive at 30 entries. That number is nearly half of the entire field! (VIP Pit Passes are still available for fans).
Six of those 30 entries are tentatively listed in the expert run group, which means they are the competitors most-likely to finish near the top of the event. Points will be extremely tough to come by in this final event and some surprising names may end up influencing the outcome of the season-long points chase. Let's start at the top and state that Chris Porter does have a mathematical chance to catch and pass Kyle Tucker for the GTV points championship at Fontana. Tucker also needs to do more than just show up at the event, in order to lock in his championship for the season.
The point totals are based on the best three performances of the year and Tucker's third-best total was the 119.7333-point performance he logged last weekend at Road America. If Porter runs and finishes as expected, he could finish with 571 points, which is about three more points than Tucker has now. However, the only way for Tucker to add to his point total is to finish with a total for the weekend at Fontana that eclipses his 119.7333-point performance at Road America.
That means he must finish the road rally (50 points), he must have his car judged in the Lingenfelter Performance Design Engineering Challenge (up to 50 points) and he must log points on timed track events. Even if he picks up a perfect score in Design Engineering and aces the road rally, that 100-point total is not enough. That means if he breaks and is unable to complete the event, Chris Porter's Porsche 948 Porsche could take the championship.
Larry Woo's '68 Camaro is less than two points behind Porter and the math suggests he could still also catch Tucker in the final event of the year. However, given the other entries at Fontana, this could be a tall task for either Woo or Porter. Mary Pozzi has not run in any OUSCI qualifying events this year, but is registered for Fontana with her '73 Camaro. This is a car so incredible, it was selected above all others at the SEMA Show, to be featured in the Gran Turismo video game. Pozzi is also an 11-time SCCA National Champion.
Not only could Pozzi upset the points chase for several GTV competitors in the final event, she could swoop in and snag an entry into the OUSCI in her one and only appearance at a qualifying event this season! Porter and Woo have likely locked up their bids for the OUSCI based on their point totals so far, but with less than two points separating the two competitors, there is still much to be decided. Even if Tucker was unable to complete the event, Pozzi could capture so many points, that she could safely put the championship in Tucker's hands. She could also be a difference-maker in who ends up in the runner-up position between Porter and Woo.
Fifth-place competitor, Tony Grzelakowski has also likely secured an invitation to the OUSCI based on his point total for the season (the top-15 in points, who have not yet qualified for the OUSCI will receive invitations at the conclusion of the regular season), but he isn't taking any chances. He is also registered for Fontana and will look to solidify his position even further and likely pass fourth-place Mike Maier, who is not registered for Fontana. Things get much murkier past Tony G. though. Keith Corrigan sits in sixth place with 405.7467 points and is not registered for Fontana.
We will take a closer look at the overall point total for non-qualifiers in a blog later this week, but based on analysis after Pike's Peak, we saw a group of 15 non-qualifiers, who could all finish within 100 points of each other. Corrigan was in that group, but only one of those 15 looked to have the potential to make their way into the OUSCI field based on points at that time and it wasn't Corrigan. The wildcards in that group are KN Spirit of the Event invitees and class invitees at qualifying events. If one (or more) of those folks earn their OUSCI invitations, everyone below them in points moves up one position. The numbers within that group have also changed, since projections of Road America performances now become known numbers.
One such example is GT competitor, Ryan Volk. He was in that group of 15 competitors, but he was below Corrigan in overall points, so his KN invitation at Road America only helped the people behind Volk move up in the points chase for invites. Will those ahead of Corrigan in the chase either win their way in at Fontana or receive an invite there from KN? We'll find out in just over a month from now. How will the top-ten finish up? Will James Shipka and Efrain Diaz move into the top-ten in GTV points at the final event? Find out at Auto Club Speedway on October 11th. Purchase your VIP Pit Passes for Fontana here.