Fontana: Shane Lewis race report

Shane Lewis Leads At California Speedway FONTANA, Calif., April 3, 2005 -- Shane Lewis spent his first laps at the top of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype (DP) field in today's Grand American 400 from ...

Shane Lewis Leads At California Speedway

FONTANA, Calif., April 3, 2005 -- Shane Lewis spent his first laps at the top of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype (DP) field in today's Grand American 400 from California Speedway. He did so in dramatic and convincing style. The California-native and Jupiter, Florida-resident took the No. 3 PAP Parts/ OZEXE BMW-powered Riley from 15th on the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series grid to the lead by lap 40. Overall, Lewis would spend 27 laps in the top-three of the 46-car field. He turned the BMW V8 over to his co-driver, Darius Grala (Poland), with approximately one hour remaining in the two hour, 45-minute race. Grala handed driving duties back over to the three-time 24 Hours of Le Mans starter in 13th-place with approximately 15-minutes until the checkered flag. The No. 3 would finish 11th (in class and overall), less than 30-seconds behind the leader and less than two seconds behind a top-10 finish.

Lewis put Southard Motorsports into the lead after charging to the front in the race's first 20 laps on the 2.82-mile road course. Competing in only his second race with the Riley chassis, Lewis proved that the car's performance at Homestead-Miami Speedway last month was not a fluke. He moved into the top-three here at Fontana on lap 21. Making an impressive re-start after a yellow flag on lap 24, Lewis took the second-spot in a remarkable maneuver entering the first turn. He then held the position under heavy fire while closing on first-place. Lewis put pressure on the leader, testing and teasing moves for several laps before a dramatic out-braking move entering the infield portion of the track-- after nearly a mile of full-throttle oval-running-- put him into the lead. He pulled away to nearly a half-a-second over second-place in the next lap. Lewis would relinquish the lead but maintained second until pitting on lap 48. Steve Southard, owner of Southard Motorsports, called for Lewis to slip back behind the wheel of the closed-cockpit prototype with 15 minutes remaining in the event. The sports car racing veteran charged hard in front of family and friends from his Southern California childhood in the closing minutes regaining two positions. In the process, Lewis, with the bit in his teeth, turned the car's fastest laps with a circuit of 1 minute, 34.011 seconds on lap 83, of 86, with approximately three minutes remaining in the event.

Lewis will move from Southern to Northern California for the fourth-round of the Grand American Rolex Series when he races in the U.S. Sports Car Invitational at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on May 1.

Shane Lewis: "I can't tell you how awesome that was for me and all the Southard guys. We've all been working so hard to get to this point. So, it was really cool to give the guys a taste of the front. We had some awesome pit calls and that got us up front and then we just fought for the rest. The competitor-side of me wasn't thinking about me, I was, honestly, thinking 'I got to lead a couple of laps for the guys'. So I put everything I had into that and we got up-front for a few laps. When I got re-passed for the lead I decided it was better to keep the car in one piece. It's really bumpy there and it got really twitchy under braking. I was locking and unlocking the brakes all through there. That got me a little wide and the 19-car was able to get under me. If it had been the last couple of laps, it would have been a different story. I wouldn't have let him through. I wasn't going to toss away the whole race for that position that early. It was just an awesome run and I can't wait to get to Laguna Seca."

For more on Shane Lewis please see www.shanelewis.com. Southard Motorsports can be found at www.southardmotorsports.com.

-slr-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Shane Lewis , Darius Grala , Steve Southard