Rettich and Rayhall Split Top Honors at BrainerdAlliance Autosport
The inaugural Formula Enterprises Pro Series title will come down to the wire, after title contenders Sean Rayhall and Scott Rettich split top-honors this past weekend (September 4-5) at Brainerd International Raceway. Rettich led Rayhall to the checkered flag in Round Seven, before the order was reversed in Round Eight.
Given it has been nearly two months since the last two FE Pro rounds in Utah, it came as little surprise that the series competitors were excited to get back to head-to-head action at Brainerd in Minnesota. Rayhall immediately showed the break had done to slow him down, leading the way in both practice runs on Friday. The Comprent Motorsports racer however wasn’t the lone driver worth keeping on eye on early on, as HIPPI Racing’s Rettich, Performance MotoRace Car’s Paul Schneider and and JAY Motorsports’ Matthew Schneider were quick to knock off the rust and post some fast times in the opening sessions of the weekend.
Saturday morning featured the first of two qualifying runs on the 2.5-mile Brainerd road course. As has been the case in every race thus far, Rayhall posted the fastest time, earning a seventh consecutive pole position. Only a couple tenths back on the timecharts, Rettich positioned him himself to challenge for the win via a sixth consecutive front-row starting position, while Paul Schneider and Matthew Schneider completed the top-four.
Following a quick break, it was time for Round Seven of the 10-race title chase to get underway in Minnesota. In what proved to be the decisive moment of the race, Rettich emerged from a exciting side-by-side duel through the opening set of turns with the lead. With Rayhall, Paul Schneider and Matthew Schneider tucking in behind, the fight for top honors continued from corner to corner. While plenty of attention was focused on Rettich holding off the advances of Rayhall, the real action was behind, with Jim Libecco making a charge up through the field. The JAY Motorsports racer, having started sixth, was up to fourth by lap three and challenging for a podium position. After several laps of side-by-side racing, Libecco was able to take over third place from Paul Schneider. From that point forward, the top-three remained unchanged all the way to the lap 20 checkered flag. Rettich, in what was superb drive, scored his second win of the season, completing the daily sweep, winning the the Pro Spec Racer Ford race as well. Rayhall was next to the checkered flag, earning his fifth podium finish of 2010 resume, while Libecco completed the podium celebrations via his inaugural top-three series result. Fourth and Fifth went to Paul Schneider and Matthew Schneider.
The penultimate event on the Formula Enterprises Pro Series calendar continued one day later, with morning qualifying once again getting the action underway. Rayhall, having had his four race steak ended in race one of the doubleheader, rebounded in fine fashion, posting the fastest time to remain a perfect eight for eight in series qualifying. Setting the stage for another battle for top honors later in the day, Rettich secured a front-row starting position via the second quickest time. Lining up behind the duo on row two for the afternoon race via the third and fourth fastest times was Matthew Schneider and Paul Schneider.
When the green flag waved for Round Eight after the lunch break, those on hand were immediately treated to an epic battle for the lead. Rayhall and Rettich, refusing to give an inch to one another, ran side-by-side through not only through the fast first two corners, but virtually the entire opening lap. Rayhall in the end emerged with the top spot, just ahead of his fellow title contender. Unfortunately, Rettich’s chances at back-to-back wins ended right at the start of lap two, when his throttle cable broke. While able to idle back around to the pits for repairs, his run up front was over. With Rayhall well in front of the rest of the field, attention turned to the fight for the final two podium positions. Turning times within a tenth or two of one another, Paul Schneider, Matthew Schneider, Libecco, Mumm Brother Racing’s Robert Mumm and JAY Motorsports’ Jay Novak dueled lap after lap. Up front however, it was all Rayhall. The championship leader, having never relinquished the lead scored his fifth win from the pole position in six races, leading Paul Schneider and Matthew Schneider to the checkered flag. Mumm, earning his best result in a limited campaign crossed the stripe in fourth, while Libecco completed the top-five.
The Formula Enterprises Pro Series concludes next weekend (September 11-12), with Rounds Nine and Ten at VIRginia International Raceway. Entering the event Rayhall leads the championship fight (997-923) over Rettich, but with the mandatory one drop rule, either driver can emerge from the season-finale doubleheader with the championship crown.