The lead was once again the place you did not want to be in the late stages of Wednesday night’s Speed51 Elite Cup Series event at the Watkins Glen International.
A phenomenal three-car battle for the lead with 10 laps to go ended badly for Chad Frankenfield, who was sent into the gravel trap at the bus stop after contact from Collin Bowden and out of contention for the win. Bowden then lost the lead just seconds later to David Tooker in the carousel.
That pass proved to be vital for Tooker, who drove away from Bowden in the final laps to win the Barr Visuals at The Glen and claim Pro Edge Racing's first Elite Cup win as a team.
Tooker started on the pole but aside from an early yellow period and through pit cycles, he was chasing Bowden and Frankenfield through most of the race. He closed on the top two in the late stages, pouncing on the opportunity to make the race-winning pass when they ultimately got together.
“I was freaking out man, I was really freaking out. I just knew I had to be in position right where it counted, I knew I had to maintain with Chad and Collin, those guys were just on a whole other level fast,” Tooker said on the Speed51 broadcast. “It was a close race between us three, which is what I really like to see. I know sometimes road courses can sometimes not be that entertaining, but I think this one didn’t disappoint.”
Normally a favorite anytime the Elite Series heads to a road course, the California driver admitted he had to work a little harder for this one after Bowden and Frankenfield were the class of the field for the majority of the event.
“There’s a lot more stress on the drivers now than ever. Before, I was just like, 'I’ve got to worry about being Chad every week at road courses,' but now there’s three or four guys,” he said. “I’ve raced those guys before in official and they’re super fast. It’s cool to see I can keep up with those guys.”
Frankenfield would hang on for a third-place run at the end, just behind Bowden. The two discussed the incident after the race, with Frankenfield explaining his thoughts on it and what he would’ve done differently if the roles were reversed.
“Me and Collin had a little bit of a disagreement there, we talked post-race. It’s one of those deals, I think if the roles were reversed I probably would’ve backed out for him,” Frankenfield stated. “I felt like the three laps prior I was just being respectful and not trying to get into him. There were a couple times where he made it sketchy by chopping me a little bit and I just tried to stay focused. Under one I got underneath him and had him through the esses and to the backstretch. I told him usually in that situation from watching billions and billions of laps around this place, the guy on the outside usually backs out because the guy had the position. It is what it is, P3 kind of sucks because I felt like I had the winning car.”
Sean Leasure and Monday night’s Elite Homeplace Beer Series winner Ethan Birrel rounded out the top five.
The Speed51 Elite Cup Series heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the third event of the season. Fans can watch Wednesday night’s race replay for free by clicking here.
See a full schedule of Speed51's free sim racing broadcast offerings by clicking here.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3