Schneider Takes Pro Formula Enterprises Win On Final Lap In Wild Ending

Matt Schneider, Race two winner at Atlanta

BRASELTON, Ga. – Matt Schneider, of Lexington, Ky., started from the back of the field and nabbed a victory on the final lap in a wild SCCA Pro Racing Formula Enterprises race at Road Atlanta, earning his first career pro win in the 2011 season finale. Shaun Miller, of New Springfield, Ohio, and Patrick Linn, of Pittsburgh, Pa., completed the podium.

Schneider earned the win in his No. 31 Jay Motorsports Formula Enterprises machine after starting from the rear of the field after a technical violation disallowed his qualifying times, set during the morning’s race one. Schneider’s final margin of victory was 1.768 seconds, averaging 82.888 mph in a 20 lap, 50.8-mile race slowed for eight laps by one caution.

The win came one a last-lap dash to the finish, set-up by a series of events after the caution period. On lap nine, Patrick Gallagher, running second in his No. 00 Jay Motorsports/CTL Engineering Formula Enterprises machine, spun in Turn One and across the track, collecting the championship leading No. 17 Alliance Autosport/Springboro Car Wash FE car of Scott Rettich.

When the full-course caution came out two laps later to collect Rettich’s stalled car, the safety car rolled out of pit lane just moments too late to pick up then-leader Jason Wolfe’s No. 23 Jay Motorsports Formula Enterprises as he completed his lap. Race control was in communication with the team to try to slow Wolfe and let the pace car pass, but was unsuccessful and the race car continued around the course to the rear of the field, passing the full field of cars to get back to the front of the line. At that point, Wolfe was black flagged by race control and called to pit lane. Now essentially a lap up on the field, Wolfe was held by race control in pit lane until the field passed on the last lap restart. The No. 23 car was then released from pit lane, where he finished seventh.

The green flag came out when the pace car pulled into pit lane on the final lap. Schneider, then second, got the jump on current leader Paul Schneider’s No. 73 Performance Motor Cars of Charlotte Formula Enterprises machine, racing to the checkered flag.

“It was a little confusing on the restart, but I was in a decent spot,” Schneider said. “I was second behind Paul, and I’d been kind of pulling on him through the race and I thought I had something for him. It came down to almost the last turn of the last lap, and I don’t know what else to say. I’m kind of blown away. I started in last place, and I didn’t think I had a chance. I was just going to go out and have a little fun.

“I felt pretty good in the first race, I finished fourth and in this bunch of guys, I’m happy with fourth. There’s a bunch of good drivers out here. But we came in just two and a half pounds underweight, and that’s awfully disappointing. They moved me back to last for that, but then to go out and win the second race from last place, it makes up for it. I’ll take that.”

Miller and Linn followed the No. 31 machine past Paul Schneider, with the No. 59 Work Racing Formula Enterprises of Miller holding off Linn’s No. 48 PRL Motorsports Formula Enterprises machine by 0.206-second for the runner-up position.

Eric Cruz (No. 86 Cruz Associates Inc. Formula Enterprises) and Andrew Cross (No. 13 Cardiovascular Associates Formula Enterprises) each made up a position on the final lap to complete the top five. Paul Schneider finished sixth.

Rettich’s 12th place finish after his contact ended his hopes for a season-long sweep after nine straight wins, but had clinched the season-long championship during Sunday morning’s first race. Gallagher’s 10th place finish left him second in the title hunt, followed by Wolfe.

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