Factory 48 ESR Takes Thunderhill Pole After Tight Session

By James Fish
James Fish
James Fish
alias for Chris J
December 8, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Jeff Schaefer put the #48 Factory 48 ESR Radical on the pole for the Thunderhill 25. (nasa25.com)
Jeff Schaefer put the #48 Factory 48 ESR Radical on the pole for the Thunderhill 25. (nasa25.com)

Jeff Schaefer in the #48 Factory 48 E-sports racer-class Radical took the pole for Saturday’s NASA Thunderhill 25 endurance race with a scorching lap of 1:42.315 after swapping the lead with the #17 Davidson ESR Norma ESR throughout the final qualifying session.

“We ran out of gas after we turned our quickest lap, so we were right on with the fuel,” Shafer said in a NASA press release. “I was out there circulating trying to get a clean lap. I was able to get a clean one and put in a fast time. Last year we had a little oil fitting break and it cost us our race. We are going to focus on running our pace, our race and don’t let anything mess us up.”

Mike Hedlund in the Motorsports Solutions Porsche 997 Cup took the ES class pole with a lap of 1:47.032.

“My qualifying run was pretty good. We didn’t have quite enough fuel in the car at the start, so we had to run a few more laps than we planned. But that is the way it is with 70-plus cars,” he explained. “I did my fastest lap at the end, and it worked out. We did a lot of laps, just looking to get lucky with traffic, and we did. The car is really handling well, old tires new tires it doesn’t matter. Strategy for the race is to go fast and stay out of trouble.”

In E1 Scott Nicol qualified quickest with a lap of 2:00.851 in the Honda Research West Acura. “Qualifying went well—better than I expected,” said Nicol in the NASA release. We had a good set of tires and I made my way through traffic and put down a good lap time. I didn’t have any communication with the team and my lap timer wasn’t working, so the lap was a surprise.

“We didn’t get any laps on the track today. We did do a lot of laps on Thursday. We worked on the car today mainly for the race. We plan to stay out of trouble on the track and have good pit stops. Pit stops are crucial. That is where all of the time is made up.”

The E2 pole went to the #7 PHS Motorsports BMW, with Etan Shephard at the wheel with a time of 2:04.537. “That is pretty cool that we are on pole,” Leslie Lipscomb, team manager, said. “Ethan Shepard did a great job to put the car on the pole. The car is running really well. Our weekend so far has been drama free. Our strategy for the race is simple, keep it on the track.”

Most of the PHS Motorsport are Porterville High School students whose team slogan is “Kids at the track, don’t do crack.” Apparently they also build a fast race car.

Darin Polsley took the E3 pole in the Race Engineering West Miata with a time of 2:04.954. “Qualifying was fairly uneventful. I just tried to stay clean and run a good line,” he said. “The Race Engineering engine is super-fast. We have a lot of power, which really helps with all the traffic in this race. We are running Hoosier tires, which I think is the right choice for this track this weekend. Patience and consistency is what takes to do well, not necessarily all out pace.”

The National Auto Sport Association United States Air Force 25 Hours of Thunderhill is the longest endurance race in North America. In its tenth year, the event brings together a variety of drivers and vehicles from national-championship-winning pros to local amateurs, driving everything from full-on sports-racing prototypes to street cars with safety gear.

71 cars have showed up for this year’s race around the 3-mile, 15-turn Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, Calif. The race starts at 11 a.m. Pacific (2 p.m. ET) and will be broadcast live on Endurance Radio, do tune in at nasa25hour.com.

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James Fish
alias for Chris J