Franklin Futrelle, of Augusta, Georgia, made the most of his time in the No. 11 HPD/Honda Performance Development Piper DF5/Honda, winning Saturday’s sprint race commemorating the 45th Anniversary of the Formula F class at the SCCA® Summer Speedfest at Barber Motorsports Park. Futrelle will turn the seat over to current Verizon IndyCar driver Josef Newgarden for Sunday’s feature race.
Qualifying for Saturday’s race was held under dry conditions, and the No. 88 Braeburn/Two Dogg/Hoosier/Euroquipe Piper/Honda of defending SCCA Runoffs® National Champion Tim Kautz set the pace, turning a 1:33.942. The lap put him 0.020-second ahead of Futrelle, with 16-year-old Max Mallinen, Jason Generotti and Cliff Johnson each within a half second of the front row.
Following qualifying and during the opening Spec:RaceAtom race, the threatening skies opened up, putting the field on wet setups for the race, which was shortened to a 20-minute sprint.
At the start, Futrelle went to the front, a position he would never relinquish in the 12-lap run. In the end, Futrelle beat Kautz, of Geneva, Illinois, by 6.254 seconds. Johnson, of Stillwell, Kansas, finished third in his No. 4 Alpine Litho-Graphics/Farley Engines Piper DF-5/Honda.
“The track was kind of weird,” Futrelle said. “There were parts of the track that were dry, but then others that weren’t even close to dry. I even debated trying dry tires before the race, which would have been a horrible call. I have some experience running on dirt tracks, so that helped me search for grip on the track.”
Saturday was the first time Futrelle had driven the No. 11 machine.
“This is the Honda factory car,” he explained. “It’s a made-in-America Piper, with a Honda motor directly from HPD, so it hasn’t been off to a separate builder. We struggled in practice and qualifying, but the HPD and Jay Motorsports guys worked really hard to get it good for the race.”
In other action on the day, Donnie Isley, of Fletcher, N.C., made a last-lap pass in changing conditions to win the Formula Vee race in his No. 30 Agitator by Brookshire Agitator 016/VW.
Polesitter Stevan Davis, of Danielsville, Ga., led the opening 10 laps immediately following the Formula F race, the final seven with Isley on his gearbox. As rain began to again fall, Isley was able to make his move in the final corners on Davis’ No. 80 Hoosier/Butler Engines/Roxannes Headers Racer’s Wedge SB-1/VW to take 0.282-second victory.
“I had sized [Davis] up the last couple of laps and it started to sprinkle again in a couple of spots,” Isley said. “I thought maybe he’d make a mistake somewhere, but he never did. Then, he opened the door for me on the last lap and that surprised me. I went for the gap and the rest is history!”
Davis finished second, with Charlie Rogers, of Powder Springs, Ga., making up three seconds on the final lap to finish third, less than a half second behind Isley.
Other winners on the day included Kevin Ferah, of Montreal, Quebec, in Spec:RaceAtom, driving his Ariel Atom; Clint McMahan, of Covington, Ga., driving his Nova KBS/Honda Formula 600; and James Christian Forrer, of Pensacola, Fla., who put his Scurvydog Motorsports Tiga/Ford into the lead on the final lap in Club Formula F.
Forrer said Newgarden’s advice after watching the Formula F race prompted him to choose slick tires, despite the slippery conditions. The tire choice was the right one, and helped set up the last-lap move.
The racers, teams and workers come together Saturday evening for the 45th Formula F Anniversary party, presented by HPD/Honda Performance Development.
Sunday brings morning warm-up sessions for all four race groups, with 21-lap feature races concluding the inaugural SCCA Summer Speedfest weekend. To follow all the action, including complete results, visit www.scca.com/ff45th.
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