Buttonwillow, CA – Andrie Hartanto became the only two time winner at the Buttonwillow round of the Nitto Tires United States Touring Car Championship on October 12, 2008. Hartanto was driving the Red Zone Performance/Prima Racing Acura TSX and had won the previous round at Thunderhill Raceway in August. Hartanto’s win was not an easy task however thanks to the efforts of Curt Simmons in the Stevens Creek Dodge SRT-4 and Andy Chittum in the BTM Motorwerke /Le Mans Karting BMW 328ti.
Simmons in the Dodge was very fast in the race and looked strong enough to take the win but an axle problems five laps into the race ruined his chances. Chittum qualified in second and started next to the pole sitter, Hartanto. At the green flag, Chittum stormed to the lead and started to pull away. Then on lap two a mistake left the door open and instantly Hartanto and Simmons passed the BMW. Chittum went from first to third in the blink of an eye and it looked like a win may be a distant memory. A few laps later Simmons suddenly pulled over with a broken axle bringing Chttum to second position. Chittum was relentless driving “like there was no tomorrow” as he put it. He was catching up to Hartanto by about a second a lap. The qualifying speed pace may take its toll on the tires and brakes but Chittum had no choice but to try anything to capture his fist win and to try to stop Hartanto from becoming a multiple race winner.
After a few laps Chittum found his BMW on the rear bumper of Hartanto’s Acura. The speed may have surprised Hartanto because a few turns later he made an uncharacteristic error and slid off the track into the dirt. Chittum was given a second chance and vaulted himself into first place again with a twelve second lead. What Chittum did not know was that Hartanto was also hungry for a win. The Acura driver chased down Chittum and this time he was closing down the BMW at about a second per lap. With two laps to go Hartanto was on the rear bumper of the BMW and made the pass just as the white flag came out. Chittum had nothing left to answer back and had to settle for second place.
Tom Lepper who came in to the weekend with the Driver Championship points, drove a conservative race in the Opak Racing/Spoon Sports Acura TSX and finished in third place after a big battle with the Burbank Plating Mini Cooper S of Bob Scheer. Lepper increased his lead over his competition and was elated with the podium finish.
Michael McColligan won the Dupli Color Top Rookie award with his fourth place finish in the Mazdatrix / Racing Beat RX8 making him the top rookie and received a host of products from Dupli Color. McColligan also increased his points in the Konig Cup standings with his first place finish in the Konig Cup.
Rich Peterson won the Molecule Keep It Clean Move of the Race award for his tremendous efforts the entire weekend to be able to make the race and finish in fifth position after it looked like just taking the green flag may be a miracle.
Andrie Hartanto won the Go Pro award for winning the race and earned a Go Pro Hero wearable digital sports camera. Ali Arsham reporting from Buttonwillow
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