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944 Spec 2013 Nationals Race Report
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TOPIC: 944 Spec 2013 Nationals Race Report

944 Spec 2013 Nationals Race Report 6 years, 2 months ago #16500

Guys, below is the race as I saw it, and heard about it. Please feel free to comment on corrections, or to suggest more content, thanks! Once it's vetted, I'll send it off to NASA.

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944 Spec Nationals 2013



NASA’s 2013 944 Spec National Championships at Miller Motorsports Park was as much a family reunion as a racing event, with BBQ’s, Pizza parties, and a great time among friends. It was also a truly “National” Championship, with racers coming from as far East as Ohio, as far North as Washington, as far South as Texas, and as far West as California. Three former National Champions were present, and some of the fastest drivers from almost every region.



The week’s races started off on Thursday with a surprise, as Neal Agran pulled out a win in his first race at the track, holding off two time defending Champion Tyler Palmer with a brilliant and flawless drive. A wild four-wide start up front helped mix up the grid, with Agran emerging in the lead from outside pole. 2009 Champion Charlie Buzzetti was deep in the mix, moving up to second, before Palmer got back by, leaving Buzzetti 3rd. The 2007 & 2008 Champion Eric Kuhns fell prey to the wily James Foxx on the last lap, finishing 5th, and 4th, respectively. The high-speed corners of Miller caught several drivers out further back, resulting in some wild video of spins and off-course excursions. Arizona regional director and 2008 Miller hotshoe, Norm Hamden, blew his new motor, but hung out to help several drivers with car setup and driver coaching in the finest 944 Spec tradition.



As word got out that Thursday’s race winner was giving away his secrets and Traqmate data, several drivers availed themselves of Agran’s coaching and data interpretation services to very good effect. Jason Walsh and Sean Thul in particular gained a lot of time, and moved up to challenge the front-runners in Friday qualifying. Impressively, they went on to post lap times at or below National Champions’ efforts in previous years. This was shaping up to be a very competitive field! Only in 944 Spec will you see this level of generous sportsmanship among front-running racers.



Friday’s race started with Palmer on pole again, with Buzzetti off pole, followed by Agran. This time, Palmer was not to be denied, stretching out a six second gap from the next pack of 2nd through fifth, which finished nose to tail following a full 25 minutes of intense, but entirely clean racing. Kuhns moved up early, passing Walsh and Pete Dimuzio before again being challenged by a late surge from Foxx, who posted some of the fastest times of the race in the closing laps. This time Kuhns successfully held off the cagey veteran to finish 4th. Meanwhile, Buzetti and Agran ran nose to tail the entire race. With nothing to gain in starting position by moving up to second, Agran wisely elected not to push the issue, but hoped for a mistake by Buzzetti, which was not to come. Buzzetti and Agran finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively.



Midwest driver Sudhir Chikkarra was one of the stories of the week – overcoming great adversity, and ultimately receiving the hard-charger award. Shortly after arriving on the back of the Midwest’s region’s spectacular looking 53 foot long four car open trailer, he developed multiple failures that proved vexing to solve for the underlying problem. His woes included multiple failed distributor rotors, overheating, and a lifter rattle. With the tireless efforts of Jim and Kelby Hartman of Pine Tree Motorsports, and the overwhelming generosity of his fellow racers, the entire top end of his motor and radiator were ultimately replaced. When Sudhir set out to find a replacement head, he came back with three, such was the generosity of the 944 Spec family of racers. In the end, it was found that his cam tower had lost a chunk out of a lifter bore, which was a novel failure mode!



After such exciting racing in the qualifying races, Saturday’s 45 minute Championship race dawned to great expectations -- and did not disappoint! Palmer was on pole, followed by Agran, Buzzetti, Foxx, and Kuhns in that order. Both Agran and Buzzetti were able to get by Palmer on the start, with Kuhns threatening down the inside, getting by Foxx in the first turn. Kuhns was subsequently bottled up in turn 5, falling back to 5th as Foxx and Dimuzio snuck by. More great racing ensued as Kuhns battled back to repass Foxx and Dimuzio in the next lap. Palmer patiently waited several laps before finding an opening to get by Buzzetti for 2nd, and setting his sights on Agran. Coming into turn 1 on lap 7, Palmer dove to the apex beside Agran, the two of them literally running door-handle to door handle through next two turns. Unbelievably, there is a smudge from Palmers’ door handle just below Agran’s, leaving the paint intact! I think this is the only time the phrase “that will buff right out” actually applies! Absolute perfection in 944 Spec’s mantra of “clean, close racing” at the highest levels!



Remember Chikkara and his engine woes? He remained positive and determined, and despite little time on this daunting, high speed track, gamely started from 21st place. He was able to use the coaching from Agran and sheer determination to move up 10 positions during the race, before finally finishing in 13th. He did all this while directly engaged with a determined Thomas Atteberry, and dodging pirouetting 944’s. Atteberry’s race video of this engagement with Chhikara has to be seen to be believed! Chikkara was a shoe–in for the hard charger award, winning a Magnum Tire gauge from Apex Performance that is the size of a Texas belt buckle!



Foxx also created a great story in the Championship race. He developed a stumble and had to pit (much to the relief of Kuhns) after several laps. He was able to find a loose spark plug wire, and aided by a full course yellow, re-enter on the same lap, moving his way back up to 8th. Another incredible drive!



Meanwhile, two full course yellows bunched up the field, and it was game on up front each time. Despite efforts by Agran, Buzzetti, and Kuhns to freight train by Palmer down the straight, Palmer executed flawless restarts, and the parity of the Spec motors was evident, as the others were unable to close the gap. Kuhns and Buzetti engaged in a last battle for third, with under/over moves, and side-by-side racing through several of the last corners. No 944’s were harmed in that crowd-pleasing adventure! In the end, Buzetti held on to the final podium spot and Kuhns settled for 4th and a clean, exciting race! Thul used the tips from Agran to push himself up to a remarkable 5th place, a result that surprised even himself. Palmer put on a clinic at the last restart and held on to take his 3rd National Championship by 1.5 seconds over another remarkable drive by the hard charging Agran, who moved himself up one spot on the podium from two years ago. A measure of the parity seen in the race was that the fastest lap times among the top 4 drivers was within 0.4 seconds, and the average dyno results of those cars was within 3HP (2%). Truly a driver’s Championship, as it should be in 944 Spec!
Eric Kuhns

National Director Emeritus

2007, & 2008 National Champion
2011, 2012 2nd
Last Edit: 6 years, 2 months ago by Sterling Doc.
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Re: 944 Spec 2013 Nationals Race Report 6 years, 2 months ago #16502

  • Atteberry
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Eric thanks for a great write up of the weeks events. Sudhir going from 21st to
finish 13th was a great accomplishment. However he battled with a determined Thomas Atteberry (Attebury is a common spelling error).

While you were in a pitched battle with Foxx everywhere in the field there were battles for positions as 5-7 car always qualified with lap times within a second of one another. The whole field was tightly packed and the two full course yellows just made the racing tighter. It had to be great to watch on the Internet. I will post my video on Vimeo and let everyone know how they can view it. The back and forth with Sudhir is great as are my various errors.
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Re: 944 Spec 2013 Nationals Race Report 6 years, 2 months ago #16503

Tom, thanks for the correction, and sorry about the name - I'll get it fixed.

I'd encourage you and any of the guys in the race to write up your own experience, and I can edit and add it in.
Eric Kuhns

National Director Emeritus

2007, & 2008 National Champion
2011, 2012 2nd
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