The seventh and final round of the United States Touring Car Championship (USTCC) traveled to the beautiful and renamed Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca in Monterey, CA. James Sofronas Driving the SSF/Global Motorsports Group BMW 328i took his 5th win of the year and his first USTCC championship.
Going into this race weekend the points battle was the closest it has ever been. Only 16 points separated the top 3 positions. Also the manufacturer championship was still to be determined. One of the problems with qualifying was the sound limit. At 90dbA the teams were forced to make adjustments to their exhaust systems to try and make sound. Sofronas' crew used two 90-degree angled pieces of pipe and a whole box of steel wool to stuff in the pipes of his BMW to meet sound regulations. Gary Sheehan's Subaru of America/K2/Kartboy.com WRX crew got even more creative. They also used two 90 degree angled pieces of pipe, and steel wool. Sheehan did a test lap to see if he would pass sound. He failed, so his crew had to sacrifice the team's drop light, using the backside of the droplight to point the sound out of the exhaust away from the sound meter. It worked, narrowly edging out Sofronas' BMW by less then a Tenth of a second for the pole and the 10 bonus points. That tied him with Sofronas in points at 603. Daryl Chan in the Auto Tronics/F2 Consulting Honda Civic was just a half second behind the two front-runners. David Lang's Miracle Auto Painting Honda Prelude, which was fighting axle problems all weekend, was fourth. Rounding out the top five in qualifying was Neil Vanni's Hopkins Honda Sunnyvale Honda Civic.