Ian James and Tom Nastasi drove their Blackforest Motorsports Ford Mustang GT to victory Saturday in the rain-drenched, caution-filled Grand Am Cup VIR 200 at Virginia International Raceway -- the final race of the season. "The conditions...
Ian James and Tom Nastasi drove their Blackforest Motorsports Ford Mustang GT to victory Saturday in the rain-drenched, caution-filled Grand Am Cup VIR 200 at Virginia International Raceway -- the final race of the season.
"The conditions changed so much backwards and forward that it was really difficult to tell what we were going to do with strategy and car setup," said James, a two-time winner in 2005. "So we really went for an intermediate car setup. Tom had a great opening stint. We got hit with a penalty that moved us back to the middle of the grid. After that, it was full-barrel attack and we managed to get it back to the front. And we pretty much dominated the rest of the race."
The win also allowed Ford to claim the manufacturers' championship over BMW. "Ford came in and brought a great car here and I'm really proud to be part of it. We started the ball rolling with their first win of the year, and to be able to top it with their last is a great way to end the season. Without us they couldn't have won the championship, so we feel like a part of the family and maybe we will be closer in the years to come."
"The car was on rails," added Nastasi. "We had a great wet weather setup and I didn't have to work hard in the car. It was no sweat for me. We really had the race pretty much in hand." Nastasi and James may have been on rails, but the rest of the 65-car field was not, as 20 of the race's 51 laps were run under the caution flag.
The Race Prep Motorsports Porsche of Craig Stanton and Spencer Pumpelly finished second, followed by the Multimatic Motorsports Mustang GT driven by Scott Maxwell and David Empringham clinching the team championship. The duo, along with the other Ford Mustang teams aided in the manufacturers' crown for Ford.
Empringham added another championship to his racing career by earning the Grand Sport drivers' title with two wins and five top-three finishes during the 2005 season. His co-driver Maxwell missed one event this year to compete in the world's most prestigious endurance race in Le Mans.
"We had a great year, and Scotty and I have certainly enjoyed racing together. We got the championship; I wish we could be co-champions but it's a little bit of a points problem there because Scotty missed a race for Le Mans," commented Empringham. "I'm 41 years old and I'm still able to race and win with one of my best friends - that's great!"
In the Sport Touring class, Karl Thomson and Daniel Herrington, who shared a BMW Z3, beat the Mazda RX-8 of Scott Schlesinger and Ken Dobson to the finish line. The Turner Motorsport BMW 330i of Don Salama and Will Turner rounded out the top-three.
"The changeable conditions made it kind of a crapshoot," said Thomson after his first podium finish of the year. "But in this kind of racing you have to keep it on the track, be fast enough, and stay out of trouble. We did a good job getting the car upfront early on, then fell back with the tire change. But the pit stop was just at the right time and Daniel ran a long stint and he did an amazing job. He was consistent and just didn't make any mistakes. And that's how you win."
"Karl gave me a great car this weekend and it was great to finally show what we can do in the last race of the year," added Herrington.
With five wins in 10 races, David Haskell clinched the ST class drivers' championship.