By Timothy Neal

Nathan Herne took the checkered flag for race one of the Trans Am SpeedSeries, and whilst his teammate got caught up in a hectic three car mess at turn one, it allowed for a famous racing name to slip on through.

All cars started on an even keel after the backfield negotiated a slippery Qualifying, but a dry track promised some quick racing from the rolling start.

Herne headed the pack and had just cleared the first corner in front when Tim Brook clipped the back of Owen Kelly, sending him and Nash Morris into the gravel.

Supercar’s Brodie Kostecki avoided the mess to find himself in P2, whilst Jett Johnson came in behind him with the three front runners able to operate in a little bit of space.

Early on in the proceedings, Herne was able to put 2s on Kostecki and Johnson, as the latter pestered the Camaro into the slower corners, looking to have a bit more pace in the Mustang.

When Tom Hayman’s yellow Mustang went long into the gravel just short of the fence on lap four, a safety car was called onto the track, pulling the group back together, much to the assistance of Kelly, who after the turn one debacle had crawled his way back into P18.

With such a tight championship up the top between him and Herne, Kelly could be seen counting the cars in front through his windscreen, needing to get high up into the points, looking like he wanted to leave plenty of the Hoosier rubber on the circuit.

Hayman rejoined a lap behind, as the green flag was waved into lap six of the 18 lap race.

When racing resumed, Kelly started to pick his way methodically up the field, whilst unfortunately for Nic Carroll after the restart, his black Dodge appeared to blow its engine and dropped down the field from P11.

Johnson finally proved too much for Kostecki on lap eight, with the Mustang showing plenty of speed down a pit straight that’s named after Jett’s own grandfather.

Meanwhile, Kelly had picked his way into the top 10 in his fight to gain some points on a runaway Herne, who was looking comfortable out in front of Johnson, a little over 2s in the lead.

With the damage Morris had sustained from the first corner incident, he started to slide rapidly down the field into last position, as it also appeared Brook was in the sights of race control for a possible loss of championship points over the matter, with conformation it would be looked at following the race.

Given he sits third on the table, Brook would probably prefer a time penalty if he had it his way, as he sits just 11 points off Herne.

Herne eased on home in the end, with enough of a buffer to Johnson that he could afford to protect his tyres, finishing just under 2s ahead for his seventh victory of the year.

For young the Johnson, it was his best Trans Am finish, gaining himself enough points to push up the table, showing that he has the pace to be a handful in this weekend’s Race 2 & 3.

Kostecki drove assuredly to take out P3 in his debut Trans Am appearance, and would have been glad to have missed the carnage at turn one; he largely managed to feel his way through unscathed in what was a typically calculated drive from someone of his talent.

Brett Holdsworth took his Camaro fourth with Lochie Dalton behind him in fifth.

Kyle Gurton, Ben Grice, Owen Kelly, Elliot Barbour and Jackson Rice rounded out the top 10, with Brook only managing to recover into P12.

Young Super2 driver Jack Sipp could only manage P19 in his first Trans Am run, with Morris finishing in P24 after qualifying sixth, and copping the brunt of the earlier Brook error on turn one.

Nathan Herne will head into tomorrow’s Race 2 as the new championship leader.

  1. Here
  2. Johnson
  3. Kostecki
  4. Holdsworth
  5. Dalton

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