USTCC - Portland Race Review - Sheenan Wins!
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The United States Touring Car Championship (USTCC) cars visited the beautiful Pacific Northwest as they arrived in Portland, Oregon's Portland International Speedway on May 3-4, 2003. The weather immediately showed that it will be a factor with intermittent rain showers throughout the weekend. Two cars looked very strong the entire weekend and the battle was between the two as expected. One of the two was the Subaru WRX of Gary Sheehan who is used to being a front runner at USTCC races who took the win with a terrific duel over Neil Vanni's Hopkins Honda who seems to do very well at Portland Raceway. Taking the third place on the podium was the winner of the first race Tom Lepper in the Eagle Awards Honda Accord.

The Saturday qualifying session set the stage with Neil Vanni putting the hammer down and setting a blistering 1.19.149 lap. That was too big of a mountain to climb for Sheehan who qualified second with a lap of 1.19.932. Third fastest time went to Tom Lepper's Accord with a lap of 1.21.832. This meant that for the second race in a row a Honda was the fastest qualifier.

Sunday's qualifying session was a different story as the skies opened up and the track was wet with a few small puddles her and there. With no way to improve their time the teams may have had no reason to really go fast. But they did all try to go as fast as they could because the weather did not look like it was clearing up and as one driver put it "I need to prepare for a wet race so the trick is to figure out how to drive this track in the rain which is totally different than when it is dry." The fastest in the wet session was Tom Lepper with a lap of 1.32.962. Second in the dry as well as the dry was Gary Sheehan with a lap of 1.34.828. Third fastest in the wet was the Special Projects/Pro Drive Honda Integra R of Jeff Owen with a lap of 1.36.156.

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