Just in Time: 944s Clash at the Glen
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Photograph by Ken Hills of Patrick James, who finished just one step off the enduro podium in 944 Cup North action.

Article by Patti Mascone

The weather threatened on Sunday and threw an unexpectedly chilly blast over the Finger Lakes, but conditions held out long enough for the third of three checkers to fly over Round 2 of the 944 Cup for the North chapter, which was held as part of Porsche Club's "Clash at the Glen." A current rennlist.com poll has Watkins Glens leading by a huge margin for "The Best PCA Club Race of the Year," and the timing of that notice could not be better.

For the 944 Cup, this May race continually sets attendance records in the classes PCA calls "SP1, SP2 and SP3." However, the excitement was heightened in North competition because two racers were, believe it or not, making their first appearances of the season: It was the 2015 North debut for both Randy Smith, the defending 944 Cup champion, and Dennis Hiffman, last year's Midwest Super Cup winner. (The South races take up the earlier part of the year, and the Canada race is yet to come.) There were also some other notable Super Cup pilots present, like Karl Poeltl and Michael McMenamin, who have been consistently fast in all kinds of cars. Could we add one more? Yes, we sure can - by adding Steven Wilson, a particular veteran with 15 SP3 wins in the last four years, boy, do we have a race.

So yes, competition was particularly tight in Super Cup, with the top four rounding the 3.4 mile course at an average of 91 miles per hour. When things began in Sprint 1, Wilson and the rest of the top guns got caught up in the Spec Boxster race, which had started first in the split-start format. After the group navigated through traffic, Poeltl's 968 rose to the top, only to be nipped by Wilson's S2 at the finish by 0.149. It was McMenamin and Hiffman who came out on top in Sprint 2, when the Super Cup drivers got the green flag in front and had a clear path to battle.

Even if their fans were out of breath by Sunday, the Super Cup drivers had to steel themselves and take deep breaths, one more time, to tackle the 90-minute enduro. Amidst the other PCA classes, the drivers lost contact with each other, so the premium was on smooth laps, a legal and clean pit stop, and staying out of trouble - then seeing how things turned out on Race Monitor. After 32 of those laps, Hiffman took the Super Cup enduro, the third different winner in as many outings.

Meanwhile, Smith ran away with the 944 Cup sprints, his fastest lap of 2:15.822 clocking in at 99.9% of the class record. But a clean run in the enduro was not to be for Smith, as the Canadian crashed out on the 27th lap. As others faltered, James Rothenberger grabbed the enduro podium, which earned him 36 valuable points and vaulted the Riesentoter native atop the North standings for the first time. Sprint competitor David Mann lurks, only two points in arrears.

In Super Cup, Damon DeCastro's steady drives at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen, including a clean and well-timed pit stop in the enduro, place him atop the standings, with Mark Azierski, another balanced competitor, two points behind.