50 racers competed in the qualifying heats with more than half racing in multiple heats while trying to qualify for one of the ten available spots in the Final. The Final was contested over three laps on the Zhuhan/China track. It featured six corners, including four with two-stops and two single stops. Four plaques awaited the most successful.
After finishing third last year, Scott Sirianna secured the pole position for the inaugural Seven Springs Final. Curt Collins and Bill Dyer started behind him in second and third. 2002 champion Barry Smith manned the 4th position, followed by Carolyn Caton and Sarah Harthan. Josh Coyle, who finished sixth last year, was seventh. Haakon Monsen, the 2015 runner-up from Norway, started in eighth, and 2012 champion Matt Kucic was ninth. Doug Gallulo, the only finalist to advance by racing in a single heat, manned the last position.
The first roll featured no fast starts but Haakon and Matt stalled and quickly fell behind. Scott started with the lead and held it through the first corner, a two-stop curve, with Curt keeping pace. By the second stop of the corner, the two formed the lead pack, followed by Sarah, Bill, Barry, and Carolyn hitting the first stop of the corner behind them. The trailing pack included Josh, Doug, Haakon, and Matt.
Scott took sole possession of the lead when he entered the second corner, another two-stop curve, ahead of Curt, Barry and Bill. As they came out of the corner, Sarah came roaring in, temporarily taking third in her first stop ahead of Barry and Bill, who just completed their second stop. Her ranking was brief as she was forced to slow down to make her second stop.
The long stretches leading into and coming out of the third corner, a one-stop requirement, allowed the pack to close. Scott came out of the third curve first but fell short of hitting the fourth corner. Bill followed and also fell short but moved into a tie with Scott, taking the outside lane while Bill held the inside. Curt also failed to make the next corner but moved into first. Doug rolled next and took an optional brake point, which allowed him to stay ahead of Scott and Bill on the staggered track and form a blockade. Those behind were forced to slow down as they were prevented from advancing beyond the trio. Because of the blockade, the first eight essentially formed a single pack with Matt and Haakon trailing.
The fourth corner required two-stops, its longest stretch being 13 spaces and the shorted distance seven spaces. With the lead, Curt moved first and took the longest path on the outside, with eight spaces left to make his second stop. Doug went next and followed him to the outside, with ten spaces left. Scott rolled high and was forced take the middle lane to complete his movement. Bill was then forced to take the inside, temporarily giving him the lead, but leaving him only four spaces with which to work. Immediately behind him on the inside came Barry with five spaces left. Carolyn was the last racer to make the corner and stay with the lead pack, taking the outside lane with 12 spaces. Josh and Sarah failed to make the corner and formed the new pursuing pack.
With more room to work, Curt retook the lead coming out of the fourth corner. While Doug, Carolyn, and Scott were able to accelerate coming out of the turn, Bill and Barry were forced to slow to make their second stops, having taken the shorter inside lane.
Only two cars made the fifth corner immediately after completing the fourth. Curt went first. Carolyn made it further into the corner, temporally taking the lead on a “20” fifth gear roll. This triggered an engine check which she failed, blowing her last engine and becoming the first casualty. Curt now had sole possession of the lead, which he held through the second stop of the fifth corner, into the final corner and past the pit lanes.
Curt opted to skip the pit lane, which allowed him to stay ahead of the next pack by one to two turns throughout the second lap. Scott, Doug, and Sarah interchanged 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place in the pursuing pack. Josh, Barry, and Bill, formed the next pack while Matt and Haakon continued to trail after stalling at the start of the race.
Sarah became the second casualty after taking a daring roll and overshot the third curve, blowing out all her tires with none to spare. At this point Bill moved into the pursuing pack but a few turns later, he would overshoot the second stop of the fourth curve, blowing out all his tires as well. He joined the other two casualties as mere observers.
Going into the last curve of the second lap, Doug and Scott had caught Curt to form the lead pack. A turn behind them was Josh. The trailing pack now included Barry, Haakon, and Matt.
Going into the last lap, pit lane proved to be congested. Curt went first into the lane but failed to reach his pit crew. Doug went in second and was able to reach his pit, but failed a quick pit attempt. On the next turn, he would leave his pit while Curt, Josh, and Scott made their pit stops.
Doug started the final lap with sole possession of the lead through the first curve. But Josh would join him by making the first stop of the second corner on the same turn. The pursuing pack now included Curt, Scott, and Barry. Haakon and Matt trailed two turns behind them.
Making the second stop of the second corner, Josh would take the lead, the sixth different racer to do so. Going into the third corner, Doug retook the lead only to give it back to Josh going into the fourth curve.
Josh made the fourth corner first, followed by Doug in the same turn. At this point, Curt was able to leave the pursuing pack and join them in the lead pack when he made the curve on a clutch roll. On the second stop of the corner, Doug regained the lead, followed by Josh and Curt. Barry made the first stop of the corner while Scott slipped behind but stayed a turn ahead of Haakon and Matt.
On the next turn, Curt broke away when he was the only racer to go into 5th gear and make the fifth corner, Josh and Doug coming up short, while Barry spun out coming out of the fourth corner. Meanwhile Scott made his first stop while Haakon was coming quickly behind him.
While Curt completed the second stop of the penultimate corner, Josh and Doug continued to battle it out as they both made their first stops in that corner. Barry had to restart in first gear while Scott finished his second stop in the fourth corner.
Curt continued to hold off Josh and Doug by making the final corner alone. That guaranteed him the win. Josh made the final corner next on the following turn to seal second place. Doug would follow to grab third.
Meanwhile, the race was still on for the last plaque. Scott attempted to hold off Barry, who was recovering from his spin out, and Haakon, who was gaining momentum. Scott would enter the fifth corner going over rubble. With no suspension points to give, he failed the rubble check and became the course’s fourth casualty.
Haakon sped past Barry to make the fifth corner, which would allow him to finish fourth and claim the last plaque. Barry would finish fifth and Matt placed 6th.
During the race, six different racers held the lead, however briefly. Curt won the race after starting in the advantageous second position. Josh finished second by moving up from the seventh position. Doug started the race in last but finished third. Despite a stall at the start, Haakon was able to claim 4th. In all, the race generated eight failed engine checks, four collisions, four suspension failures and four casualties (one engine, one suspension, two tires).