JOHNSON, ROUSH OVERCOME POST-QUALIFYING INFRACTION TO WIN CONTINENTAL TIRE SPORTS CAR CHALLENGE'S HOMESTEAD 200 Race Is Roush Sr.'s 400th Win As A Car Owner; Long, Whitis Take Close ST Win HOMESTEAD, Fla. (March 6, 2010) - Jack ...
JOHNSON, ROUSH OVERCOME POST-QUALIFYING INFRACTION TO WIN CONTINENTAL
TIRE SPORTS CAR CHALLENGE'S HOMESTEAD 200
Race Is Roush Sr.'s 400th Win As A Car Owner; Long, Whitis Take Close ST Win
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (March 6, 2010) - Jack Roush Jr. left Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday night displeased with losing his first GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge pole position.
But Saturday, he left the track in a completely different mood, as he and Billy Johnson won their second Grand Sport (GS) race together, the two-and-a-half hour, 91-lap Homestead 200, in the No. 61 ROUSH Performance Products Ford Mustang GT. For Johnson, it was his second consecutive victory at the 2.3-mile, 11-turn road course, in a car that advanced 33 positions from start to finish.
In the Street Tuner class, Tom Long led Lawson Aschenbach by 0.103 seconds in a reversal of the top two cars from the class race last year at Homestead-Miami. Long was joined by Derek Whitis in the No. 25 Aventura Technologies/PFC Mazda MX-5.
Roush originally set a track record Friday but his time was disallowed following post-qualifying technical inspection, an unapproved part to blame. But that didn't deter Roush, who was among the fastest in every session during the weekend. Starting 34th, he passed 10 cars on the first lap and was up to 21st after two laps. He finally took the lead on Lap 35.
Johnson took over on Lap 39, and kept the duo among the top five and eventually into second as late as the final half hour. That's when Johnson was attempting to catch Matt Plumb, co-winner of this season's opening race at Daytona.
Plumb took over from Miami native Gian Bacardi during the race's first caution period, around the 30-minute mark, and pitted again with enough fuel and solid tires to go the remainder of the race. But with 20 minutes remaining, he went from leading to retired.
Driving the No. 13 RumBum.com BMW M3, Plumb hit the rear of Eric Curran's No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 in Turn 1, as Curran got bottled up behind slower traffic. The impact forced the hood of the No. 13 to come up, and Plumb in a precarious position, driving cautiously around the track with his windshield covered.
Plumb managed to make it to the final turn before hitting barrels filled with sand at the pit entrance. The sand and debris from the barrels forced the final of four caution periods, and put Johnson in front. He never looked back when the green flag flew on Lap 87, and charged to a 2.561-second victory.
It marked Johnson's seventh series victory and third in the Grand Sport class..
"Jack did have quite a bit of fun today," said Johnson, who led twice for nine laps. "He did an amazing job in qualifying. He went through the entire field today, which is no easy feat with the caliber of drivers at this track. He handled it like a pro. He kept the fenders clean and just moved through everyone. He turned the car over in one piece for, gave us good track position and I took it from there. I had to work through a few people myself, but I was able to come out on top again."
For Roush Jr., who celebrated with his father, Jack Roush Sr., in Victory Lane, it was a complete turnaround of emotions from close to 24 hours earlier.
"It was real exciting race for us," Roush Jr. said. "I can't be more proud of my team and all the work they've done. It was a real privilege to be part of history with the Roush Racing group. I also have to hand it to my co-driver, Billy Johnson. He did an awesome job today. I'm looking forward to many more races."
The win was also Roush Sr.'s 400th as a car owner. In nearly 40 years as an owner, Roush Sr. has also won in NASCAR's three National series, Trans-Am and IMSA.
Finishing runner-up for the second time in three races were Terry Borcheller and Andrew Hendricks in the No. 45 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3, while third were Joey Hand and Michael Marsal in the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3.
Defending driver champion Ken Wilden leapt five positions during his stint in the No. 59 Stay-Nu/RehagenRacingProducts.com Ford Mustang GT was fourth with co-driver Bob Michaelian, pushing the car's top-10 streak to 19 consecutive races, while No. 48 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 co-drivers Charles Putman and Charles Espenlaub were fifth. Putman and Espenlaub left the track with a seven-point advantage (64-57) over Borcheller and Hendricks in the standings.
In ST, Long took the victory on the last lap from Aschenbach, who was trying to give Compass360 Racing its second straight victory both in a race and at the track. Instead, it was Long, who battled tooth-and-nail with Compass360's No. 74 Skunk2/HPD Honda Civic Si a year ago, coming up with a pass on Aschenbach and his second victory in three races with Whitis, who started fourth.
Long first took the lead on Lap 45, and battled for several laps with Sam Schultz and James Clay. After Long assumed the lead following the final caution period, he led for two laps, before Aschenbach got by for a lap. Long made the final of 13 ST lead changes on Lap 88, and held on by just 0.103 seconds.
Last season, Long finished 0.129 seconds behind the No. 74, which was piloted by Randy Pobst and Christian Miller; the car went on to win the championship.
"It was like dejÃ vu, but this time, our Mazda came out on top," Long said. "The MX-5 handled well in the infield, and the parity in the class made for a great race."
Whitis also won with Long in last season's finale at Virginia International Raceway. He is a team owner of Freedom Autosport with Rhett O'Doski.
"We fought the entire way, and it was a little nerve-wrecking in those final laps, waiting to see if the race would finish the same or different from last year," Whitis said. "Everything worked out though."
It appeared another Compass360 machine was going to dominate the race. Rookie Zach Lutz, in only his second series start, mustered the lead away from polesitter Sarah Cattaneo in Turn 1 and led the opening 35 laps of that race's 88 circuits.
Soon after relinquishing the seat to co-driver Ryan Eversley, however, the No. 75 Skunk2/HPD Honda Civic Si's engine let go in Turn 1, ending a promising day for the front row starters. They finished 30th.
Aschenbach and Thilenius now lead the standings by seven (67-60) over fourth-place finishers Seth Thomas and Bill Heumann in the No. 81 Performance Friction/RAYS Engineering BMW 328i. Thomas led seven laps during the race. Third were BJ Zacharias and Craig Conway in the No. 198 Cruise America/Four Winds RV Mini Cooper S, the first-ever podium finish for RSR Motorsports. Teammates Cattaneo and VJ Mirzayan in the No. 197 Cruise America/Four Winds RV Mini Cooper S finished 27th.
APR Motorsport drivers Josh Hurley and Kevin Stadtlander advanced a race-high 27 positions to finish fifth after starting 32nd. Both are Miami area residents - Hurley from Copper City and Stadtlander from Miami.
The next race for the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge will be April 10 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.