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Jeb, Ward, fifth, eighth overall in VIR Pro-Am / September 24, 2018

Road course ace Boris Said and NASCAR Hall of Famer Ray Evernham paired together to capture the top podium position in Saturday’s 50-minute Charity Pro-Am at Virginia International Raceway.

The two local favorites, Jeb and Ward Burton, finished fifth and eighth overall. Jeb was second in the small-bore class. Ward ran into race day issues, especially racing in unfamiliar equipment, and rolled home eighth, fifth in the A production class.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott was second overall, paired with Dennis Olthoff. Todd Bodine was third at VIR, paired with amateur Mark Hildebrand.

The field included a group of mostly retired race professionals competing. Officials said this pro-am series is expected to return to Gold Cup in VIR’s 2019 season.

Evernham, who had a dominant run at the top level of NASCAR paired with Jeff Gordon, partnered with the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association to stage this event at VIR to benefit IGNITE, a charity to benefit young adults dealing with autism.

“The Pro-Am race …at VIR means so much to me - the opportunity to get behind the wheel, and more importantly, the chance to give back to a charity that is so close to my heart. It will be exhilarating to compete among a truly exceptional field of talent, with all proceeds benefitting the charity my family started - IGNITE, the Autism Society of North Carolina’s community center for young adults with high-functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome,” he said.

“I couldn’t be more grateful for the support from VIR, SVRA and all of the amazing racing legends taking part in this event.”

Said, who has extensive racing experience on road courses, is no stranger to VIR, having won here before in other series.

“It’s just fun. I knew Ray wouldn’t bring a slow car,” he said. Car prep is a key factor with these vintage cars, and Evernham has real general expertise there. Said also had great enjoyment for a tremendous charity cause in a very fast Corvette.

Said had to battle back through the field after a scoring issue, but again credited Evernham for bringing an excellent car.

Said called Evernham “a hero of mine. To see all these legends out here, some of whom I raced with for years, …. It’s a lot of fun.

Said calls VIR one of his favorite tracks in the country, and also competed in the visiting Trans Am series.

Said also has superior road course experience, and really enjoyed the vintage racing environment.

“I can’t think of too many charity events that were this much fun, other than the Bodine Bobsled challenge,” Said said.

Said thought he was leading after the pit stop, but then he was placed last in the field. He had to battle back for the overall win.

“When the caution came out, they put us last. I thought I was leading. I don’t know how that happens.

“We were about 100 yards behind the pack when the green came out. It made it a lot of fun going through the field,” he said.

One part of the track became slick early due to leaking oil from one competitor, and there were mechanical breakdowns. There were also some hiccups, including the loss of communication with the pace car at one point. But even that worked out without creating a major issue.

Jeb Burton called this a good overall experience. Burton was paired with amateur driver Debbie Cloud, who had a good overall race.

The amateurs started in these cars, followed by a pit stop to allow the professionals to complete the run.

Cloud said she raced as well Saturday as she had all weekend, and didn’t want to hit anyone, given the value of the vintage cars. She felt very positive about her stint.

Burton was reeling in Biffle near the end, but fell a couple of laps short.

Ward Burton had issues all day, starting with the comfort zone in the 68 Chevy Camaro. He had some difficulty with his vision range at the VIR track.

Still he was pleased with the show put on by the charity pro-am field. “We had a lot of fun this weekend,” he said.

Burton slowed with oil on the track and did not run in the middle of the potential trouble. He also admitted to slowing down a bit to preserve the car. “I was taking care of my buddy’s car. I was leaving 25 percent out there every single lap,” said W. Burton.

Said took over for his professional stint in the second half of the overall event, and finished first in the A production class. He completed 19 laps and cruised to a 19.444 second margin of victory. Said was paired with amateur driver Evernham.

Said and Evernham piloted a 1965 Chevy Corvette 427.

Elliott took second overall in the race and second in the A production class. He was paired with amateur Olthoff in a 1970 Ford Boss 302 Mustang. Bodine paired with amateur Hildebrand and finished third overall and in class in a 1972 Chevy Corvette.

The top three drivers finished 19 laps.

Greg Biffle took fourth overall and first place in the B-production class, paired with amateur Scott Hackenson in a 1967 Ford Mustang.

Jeb Burton finished fifth overall and second in the B-production class, paired with Cloud in a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro.

Mike Skinner paired with amateur Samuel LeComte in a 66 Corvette. Those two drivers were sixth overall and fourth in the A production class.

Ron Fellows was seventh overall, paired with David Roberts. This duo ran a 69 Chevy Camaro and was third in the B-production class.

W. Burton took home eighth place overall, and fifth in the A production class behind the wheel of 1968 Chevy Corvette Roadster.

He was paired with amateur Clair Schwendeman.

Wally Dallenbach paired with John Cloud and took ninth, fourth in B-production in a 1970 Ford Boss 302.

Dorsey Schroeder teamed with Frank Marcum, finishing 10th overall and fifth in the B class in a 64 Ford Falcon.

Steve Park took 11th in the field and sixth in class with co-driver James Heck. They were behind the wheel of a 1964 Chevy Corvette.

Park and Heck were the final drivers to complete 18 laps.

Al Unser Jr. and Peter Klutt (69 Corvette) were 12th overall and sixth in the A-production class in a 69 Corvette. Willy Ribbs and Jay Carley (amateur) placed 14th and seventh in the A class (69 Camaro).

Johnny Benson was 14th overall and seventh in the B class, paired with Alan Sevadjian in a 68 Camaro.

Bobby Labonte placed 15th a 65 Cobra SPF, working with amateur Dave Handy. They ran a 68 Camaro.

Ron Hornaday paired with Bob Lima for just four laps in the 6-B production class.

He was 16th overall in a 69 Corvette. Max Papis finished 17th in overall paired with Curt Vogt in a 66 Shelby Mustang.

Jack Sprague and John Atwell were disqualified after a late pit stop. The winners’ average speed was 74.385 mph and Said posted his best lap on the 19th circuit.

The event, which ran this year at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, drew a respectable following.

The weather turned out to be reasonably positive, although it was very warm. VIR and local race fans bounced back from the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

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