Despite miserable weather prior to race day, the sun was out in Austin on the big day as the SBMRL prepared for the second race of the 2018-19 season. With just one race in the books, everyone still had the chance to make a big impact. The biggest story heading into the race was how Scandinavian Blitz would respond to having last year’s driver champion, the Stig, finish in last place, and rookie Rask Sjofar winning in his first time out.
Here’s how the grid lined up:
P1 – The Stig (SB)
P2 – Whiplash (SR)
P3 – Sheila Dinkum (RM)
P4 – Jaap Snellrijder (RM)
P5 – Delilah Whipplefilter (FR)
P6 – Launch Bornado (FR)
P7 – Bubba McQueen (SR)
P8 – Rask Sjofar (SB)
This race marked the fourth time in his career that the Stig had started on pole position, and in the past three instances he won twice and finished second, so there was plenty for him to be positive about. That all went out the window when he stalled on race start. It hardly took any time at all for Sheila, Whiplash, Jaap, and Delilah to all pass him by the first corner.
Sheila took the early lead but the Stig was not to be down for long. He managed to get by all three of Whiplash, Jaap and Delilah at Turn 3. Those three cars were battling hard throughout the first sector, ultimately resulting in a collision between Jaap and Delilah, leaving the latter to retire before even reaching Turn 4.
As the field barreled down the long back straight, Sheila maintened a slim lead while Jaap and the Stig began a battle in earnest for second place. Behind them, the Sprite Racing duo of Whiplash and Bubba made a charge that saw them join that battle at Turn 6. Rask and Launch were bringing up the rear, but close enough to catch the others in the event of a mistake.
As predicted, the third sector jumped up and bit someone right at Turn 8. Or perhaps more accurately, it bit three someones. Jaap, Whiplash, and Bubba all found this corner a bit too tricky. Jaap was thrown off his rhythm into Turn 9 as well, forcing him to watch the others pull away and allowing Launch to catch up. Suddenly, in the space of two corners, he went from battling for 2nd to trying to avoid falling to 6th.
The Stig, meanwhile, was busy catching up with Sheila at Turn 1 thanks to an exceptionally fast pit crew. The two would continue to battle back and forth through the first sector, exchanging the lead as they went. Behind them, Launch was able to catch up with Whiplash and Bubba by not pitting, and putting himself in position to battle for yet another podium.
Jaap’s struggles in the third sector of the first lap were reversed with sublime driving through the first sector of the second. He was able to get around both Sprite Racing cars at Turn 3 and then catch back up with Launch at Turn 4.
As the field charged down the back straight, there really was nothing between Sheila and the Stig. Launch and Jaap were too far back to catch the front runners, but Bubba was close enough to join the battle for third at Turn 6. That left Whiplash to fade and give Rask some hope of catching somebody… anybody.
Navigating through the third sector a second time, the field had clearly learned from their mistakes on the first lap. Sheila and the Stig came around the final corner with the Stig ahead by just a nose. In the end, he was able to carry the momentum down the finish straight and take the checkered flag.
Jaap, Bubba, and Launch were similarly neck and neck. Jaap had the slight edge coming out of Turn 7, but Launch held it coming out of Turn 8. Bubba took an inside line at Turn 9 to pass them both. He was able to carry that momentum around Turn 10 and down the finish straight to take the final podium. While Jaap was slightly ahead of Launch around the final bend, Launch passed him down the straight to snatch 4th place out of his grasp.
|The Stig (SB)||1||2||1|
|Sheila Dinkum (RM)||3||1||2|
|Bubba McQueen (SR)||7||3||3|
|Launch Bornado (FR)||6||5||4|
|Jaap Snellrijder (RM)||4||6||5|
|Rask Sjofar (SB)||8||7||7|
|Delilah Whipplefilter (FR)||5||8||8, dnf|
The Stig bounces back from a last place finish to win in Austin for the first time. It’s his 6th career victory, which is now just 1 shy of Jaap’s SBMRL record. The win marks the third time in four tries that the Stig has won from pole position. His victory also gives him 10 podiums, which ties Jaap for second on the career list behind Launch.
Sheila led a race for the first time in her career, but she wasn’t able to bring home the victory. This is her 4th time a bridesmaid, and she’s never had any other podiums. Bubba’s 3rd place finish makes him the only driver with a podium in both races this season, and puts him in first place in the driver standings. It’s the first time a Sprite Racing driver has held that position as he continues to make Force Ravenswood regret firing him. Like Sheila, it’s the 4th time he’s finished in this particular place. Unlike Sheila, he now has 6 podiums to his credit, which is 4th on the career list.
With consecutive wins to start the season, Scandinavian Blitz has given themselves a small cushion in the team standings. The rest of the teams are all bunched up behind them.