2019 OUSCI Points Entries After Five Events
Five events are in the books for OPTIMA's 2019 Search for the Ultimate Street Car, presented by Advance Auto Parts, which means just two qualifying events remain for those who hope to earn an invitation to the 2019 OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI) presented by Advance Auto Parts. One of those events will take place next month at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, while the other takes place 1,853 miles away at NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans. Even if someone lived right next door to Auto Club Speedway, that's a long haul in the last two events, especially considering they have to turn right back around and haul more than 1,700 miles back out to Las Vegas, if they do receive an invitation.
There are more than a few who are up for the challenge though. The series is full of competitors who push the limits of their cars more in a weekend, than most car owners will in a lifetime of ownership and they look forward to all the challenges presented by competing against the world's best all-around street cars and trucks. For those unfamiliar with how entries to the OUSCI are earned, we'll offer a bit of a refresher, before we get into the meat of this blog. The defending OUSCI champion is always invited back to defend their title the following year, so Mike DuSold was the first to punch his 2019 ticket in Vegas last year.
Each of seven qualifying events offers the opportunity for the fop finisher in each class to earn a class invitation to the OUSCI. If the top finisher has already received an invitation, then the invite falls to the next-highest finisher in that class, who has not yet qualified for the OUSCI. SPECTRE Performance also hands out a Spirit of the Event invitation at each event and there are a few select events, like Holley's LSFest, that also extend an invitation. Beyond those invitations, there are also invitations awarded at the end of the season, based on point totals accumulated at a competitor's best three events.
Each class is awarded three invitations based on those point totals and then ten additional invitations are handed out based on points, to the top contenders, regardless of class affiliation. The cut-off for these points invitations has historically hovered around 1000 points, meaning a competitor must average a little better than 333 points in at least three DriveOPTIMA qualifying events, although past history is no guarantee of future outcomes and the competition in the series gets tougher every season. So who is on track to get these invitations at the end of the season? Let's have a look, starting with the GTE Class.
Each class is guaranteed at least ten invitations and since only six cars have signed up for the GTE Class for electric vehicles, every GTE car will receive an invitation to Las Vegas....unless we get some last-minute registrations at the final two events, which seems unlikely. Prospects in the GTC Class for compact cars seemed a little tougher at the beginning of the season, but still very favorable for those competitors. However, that class has seen a spike in entries and the competition continually got tougher as the season progressed. Still, just 20 cars are signed up in that class, so at least ten will receive invitations (barring any late entries at the final two events). However, GTC cars tend to score fewer points than the other classes, so it's unlikely they'll receive any of the 10 at-large entries. However, any GTC car that competes in at least three events is almost guaranteed a spot in the OUSCI field from a class entry.
If the season ended today, those entries would go to Dayton de la Houssaye's Miata, Angela Barnhouse's S2000 and Nick Fousekis' Mazda RX-7. However, there are still two more qualifying events remaining and all three of those competitors are running in at least one of the remaining qualifiers. If they earn an invitation at either of the final two events, that moves Alan Viado and Dave Stock closer to those class entries. Viado is scheduled to run at Auto Club Speedway, so he could move ahead of Stock in the standings or earn the class invite at the event. However, if Stock opted to compete at Auto Club Speedway, any finish would lock him into a class invitation.
The Classic Car Liquidators GTV Class currently shows the Camaros of Efrain Diaz, Nick Relampagos and Michael Cuthbertson as being on track to earn class invitations to the OUSCI, as each are expected to run and do well in their third qualifier of the season at ACS. As with the GTC Class, if any of those three were to punch their ticket in Fontana, that could move someone like Chris King into position to grab one of those class invitations. However, if someone like CB Ramey or Larry Woo grabs an invitation at one of the final two events, who might not otherwise have enough points to make it to Vegas, that makes it that much harder for everyone else to get in on points and there are plenty of strong GTV contenders in that position in the final two events.
The RECARO GTS Class entries as of today would likely fall to Mike Gallagher's Ford focus RS, Bob Sobey's Nissan GT-R and Ben Cowling's Dodge Viper. However, they are all running in one of the final two qualifiers and if they punch their ticket, that could move Glen Barnhouse or Thomas Marquez up on the list. In the Holley EFI GTL Class, the Corvettes of Carrie Willhoff, Scot Spiewak and Alex Peitz seem on track to grab class invitations, if they don't get in at one of the final qualifying events. If they do (or if Alex sells his Corvette before the end of the season), that would move Chad Sage's Porsche and Matt Post's Corvette up accordingly.
Finally, in the GT Class, the Camaros of Brian Shelley, Brendan King and the Mustang of Paul Molina are currently poised to grab class invitations with Tim Schoch and Mark Golovin on deck to move up. With those cars named, we'll now take a look at the ten potential at-large entries as of today, based on projected season point totals. Please keep in mind, this doesn't account for the 14 entries up for grabs in the final two DriveOPTIMA events.
|Matt Ramirez||2004 Ford Mustang||GT||1182|
|Chad Sage||2015 Porsche GT3||GTL||1178|
|Matt Post||2008 Chevrolet Corvette||GTL||1169|
|Glen Barnhouse||2012 Chevrolet Corvette||GTS||1163|
|Chris King||1971 Chevrolet Camaro||GTV||1158|
|Last Five In|
|Tim Schoch||2011 Ford Mustang||GT||1145|
|Mark Golovin||2001 Chevrolet Camaro||GT||1144|
|Thomas Marquez||2015 Subaru Sti||GTS||1122|
|Clayton Yates||2016 Chevrolet Camaro||GT||1115|
|Kong Chang||2017 Ford Mustang||GT||1113|
|First Five Out|
|Steve Merryman||1970 Chevrolet Camaro||GTV||1108|
|Alan Miller||1970 Chevrolet Chevelle||GTV||1103|
|Valerie Pichette||1988 Pontiac GTA||GTV||1075|
|John McKissack||1966 Ford Fairlane||GTV||1063|
|Andy Voelkel||2015 Chevrolet Corvette||GTS||1056|
As we mentioned at the top of the story, the historical cut-off for an at-large points entry has been somewhere around 1,000 points and even though it looks higher than that right now, that still seems to be the case in 2019. There's a good chance several of the 14 remaining entries at the final two DriveOPTIMA qualifying events will fall to someone mentioned already in this review. If that happens, everyone below them in points moves up one spot. That means the First Five Out cars will all likely make the cut and potentially even more. If your name isn't on the list and you're still trying to make the OUSCI, this should give you a good idea of what you need to do points-wise in the final two events. Good luck and be safe!
If this is the first time you've ever heard of OPTIMA's Search for the Ultimate Street Car series, head over to www.DriveOPTIMA.com to learn more about it and how you can become a part of the action!