SCC: Laguna Seca: Series race notes

Wilden Extends Grand-Am KONI Challenge Grand Sport Point Lead in Saturday's Victory at Mazda Raceway Canadian teams with Dean Martin for win; Turner and Salama takes ST victory MONTEREY, Calif. (May 16, 2009) - Ken Wilden muscled his way into...

Wilden Extends Grand-Am KONI Challenge Grand Sport Point Lead in Saturday's Victory at Mazda Raceway

Canadian teams with Dean Martin for win; Turner and Salama takes ST victory

MONTEREY, Calif. (May 16, 2009) - Ken Wilden muscled his way into the lead on the final restart with 16 minutes remaining and held on to pace the final 11 circuits of Saturday's 79-lap Verizon Festival of Speed, giving the No. 59 Rehagen Racing Ford Mustang GT co-driven by Dean Martin its first Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge Grand Sport victory of the season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The Street Tuner race also went down to the final restart, where Will Turner passed Tom Long and fought back several late-race challenges to win in the No. 95 Turner Motorsports BMW 328i started by pole sitter Don Salama.

While the middle portion of the two-hour, 30-minute race was slowed by five caution periods, the final 35 minutes of the event were marked by terrific battles in both classes, slowed by only one brief yellow flag period.

Todd Lamb led 26 laps down the stretch in the No. 32 Cybernation/Cobalt Friction BMW M3 started by Glenn Bocchino, challenged by the Fords of Wilden and Hugh Plumb, along with the Porsche of Spencer Pumpelly.

Plumb made his challenge with 30 minutes to go, working his way from fourth to second in the Horsepower Racing No. 61 Roush Performance/Valvoline Ford Mustang started by Jack Roush Jr.. Then, Pumpelly made his bid, charging to briefly hold the lead in the TRG No. 39 Digitrust Group/Adams Polishes Porsche GT3 started by Duncan Ende. Lamb came back with a crossover pass, with Pumpelly falling from briefly holding the lead to fourth.

The stage for the final showdown was set when the No. 171 APR Motorsport Volkswagen GTI of Josh Hurley stopped on course, bringing out a two-lap caution. Racing resumed with 16 minutes remaining, when Wilden pulling to the inside coming down the front straight and pulling into the lead exiting Turn 2.

"He (Todd Lamb) had been jumping the restart down there," said Wilden after scoring his second career victory in the series - both co-driving with Martin. "He was in first gear going full throttle coming out of the last turn, which you're not supposed to do. I caught on to it, so I was in first gear and I was ready for him and I gave it to him on the inside. It was tight and we were all over the curbs. I nicked him a little bit in the bumper, but it was nothing that would put him around or anything. It was good, strong racing here."

Lamb held on to finish second, 3.596 seconds behind, followed by Pumpelly.

"Apparently, these Cobalt Friction brakes are so good that the Mustang could stop and he drove me right off the track," Lamb said. "What are you going to do? That's racing. It was a lot of fun. We had a good car and led a lot of laps. I've got to thank Glenn - he did a great job and brought the car back in one piece."

Andrew Caddell and Mike McGovern finished fourth in the No. 54 Jim Click Racing Ford Mustang GT, while Bret Seafuse and James Gue recovered from a Saturday morning practice crash to take fifth in the No. 37 JBS Motorsports Ford Mustang GT.

Wilden held his lead in the GS point standings, with Gue and Seafuse 12 points back (118-106).

Matt Bell captured his third consecutive pole in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 and led twice for 23 laps early in the race. He turned the car over to Boris Said, who exited after 38 laps with engine problems.

Martin led three times for 18 laps before turning the eventual winning car over to Wilden.

Turner, Salama Team for Street Tuner Triumph

Turner passed Andrew Carbonell for the lead on Lap 69 and then survived a late-race challenge by Long to give the Turner Motorsport its first ST victory of the season and 17th class triumph in KONI Challenge competition.

Freedom Autosports, seeking its first KONI Challenge triumph, had two of its cars challenge for the victory late in the race but had to finish with second and third on the podium. Carbonell led 26 laps in the team's No. 146 Mazda MX-5 started by Rhett O'Doski, and then Long took up the challenge in the No. 145 Mazda MX-5. Long took the lead shortly before the final caution, lost it on the restart, and unofficially went by twice in the closing laps before finishing 0.997 seconds behind Turner.

"It was a tough race; I knew it was going to be tough," Turner said after scoring his third career ST victory. "The BMW had it today; the car was just hooked up."

Long came back to finish second after co-driver O'Doski took a wild ride earlier in the race in the famed Corkscrew turn.

"It was clean racing," Long said. "Our Mazda handles real well in the corners. We were able to out-break him (Turner) coming into some of the brake zones. I slipped a little wide on tires and unfortunately we couldn't get it done. I'll tell you Freedom Autosports team has done a great job and Derek had a great first stint in the car. I'm really excited about that."

Pat Iannucci and Lawson Aschenbach finished fourth in the No. 00 Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt, and now trail Christian Miller by six points (115-109).

Jamie Holtom, the 2008 ST champion making his first start of the season, finished fifth in the No. 74 Compass360 Racing Honda Civic Si co-driven by Miller.

The Turner team led three times for 24 laps, with Salama pacing the opening 16 circuits. Also leading the class was Ian Baas, who was out front for 26 laps in the No. 171 APR Motorsports Volkswagen GTi, co-driven by Hurley.

The race was slowed by six cautions for 20 laps. Martin and Wilden completed 79 laps on the 2.238-mile circuit, averaging 70.091 mph.

The next action for the KONI Sports Car Challenge will be Round 5, May 23-25 at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Ct.

News and Notes

- This is the first victory of the season for Rehagen Racing and drivers Ken Wilden and Dean Martin. The victory also extends Wilden's point lead.

- This is the second win for Wilden and Martin together. Their last - and only previous - victory came at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2007.

- This is the ninth consecutive top-10 finish for the No. 59 RehagenRacingProducts.com Ford Mustang GT, dating back to last year's third-place finish at Barber Motorsports Park.

- This is the second time a KONI Challenge race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca has been won from the second-place starting position (2005).

- Sixteen drivers and eight teams now own KONI Challenge victories at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (overall and class).

- This is the first victory for Ford this season. Porsches lead all manufacturers with two victories, followed by Ford and BMW with one each.

- This is the first time since 2005 a Ford Mustang has won in the GS class. Ford also tied Porsche with most overall engine manufacturer victories at the track with two.

- Three different manufacturers finished on the podium - Ford, BMW and Porsche.

- Ford now owns 25 career GS victories.

- Glenn Bocchino and Todd Lamb earned their best career GS finishes in the No. 32 Cybernation/Cobalt Friction BMW M3.

- Two weeks after their victory at New Jersey Motorsports Park, Spencer Pumpelly and Duncan Ende earned third at TRG's home track. The second straight podium finish came in the No. 39 DigiTrust Group/Adams Polishes Porsche 997.

- Reigning Ford Racing Mustang Challenge champion Andrew Caddell and co-driver Mike McGovern earned their best career KONI Challenge finish - fourth - in the No. 54 Jim Click Racing Ford Mustang GT. It was the best finish ever for the team, and gave Mustangs three finishes in the top five.

- Despite a morning accident that damaged the car's front end, James Gue and Bret Seafuse took the JBS Motorsports' No. 37 Trumansburg ShurSave Ford Mustang GT to fifth.

- Twenty cars, including eight GS machines, finished on the lead lap (79).

- Five drivers in four GS cars led laps: Todd Lamb (26), Matt Bell (23), Dean Martin (18), Ken Wilden (11) and Matt Plumb (1). Overall, each manufacturer led no less than 23 laps. There were seven lead changes among the four cars.

- Matt Bell has now led the most laps this season: 54. Dean Martin moved into second with 41, while Billy Johnson - who did not led - sits third with 40.

- This is the first victory of the season for Turner Motorsport in the ST class and for drivers Will Turner and Don Salama. Overall, the pair finished eighth.

- This is the second victory for Turner and Salama together. The pair last won at Miller Motorsports Park in 2006. For Turner, it was his second class victory, and Salama his fifth.

- Don Salama now has a record three class top-five finishes at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

- Turner Motorsport now owns three career ST team victories and 17 class victories, five short of SpeedSource's 22 wins.

- Turner Motorsport ended a five-race winning streak by Canadian-based teams. Turner is based in Amesbury, Mass.

- This is the second straight race two cars from the same ST team earned two podium finishes, with Freedom Autosport taking second and third. In the most recent race at New Jersey Motorsports Park, Compass360 Racing

- Freedom Autosport drivers Tom Long and Derek Whitis tied their season- and career-best finishes of second, two races after fighting for the victory in the second closest KONI Challenge finish in history at Homestead-Miami Speedway. They drove the No. 145 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5.

- Andrew Carbonell and Rhett O'Doski earned their season-best finish of third in the No. 146 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5.

- Pat Iannucci and Lawson Aschenbach earned fourth in the No. 00 T.T.L. Chevrolet Cobalt SS from the Georgian Bay Motorsports stable. The pair now trail point leader Christian Miller, who drove the No. 74 034 Motorsport/Skunk2 Honda Civic Si to fifth with reigning class champion Jamie Holtom, by six points (115-109).

- Twelve ST teams finished on the lead lap (79).

- Five drivers in four ST cars led laps: Ian Baas (26), Andrew Carbonell (26), Don Salama (16), Will Turner (8), Tom Long (3).

- Andrew Carbonell has now led the most laps this season: 63. Travis Walker - who did not lead a lap - fell to second with 59, while Christian Miller dropped to third, still with 37 laps.

Quotes

Dean Martin (No. 59 RehagenRacingProducts.com Ford Mustang GT; first, GS): "It pretty much went right according to plan. I had a few close calls early in the race, it was interesting early in the race going back and forth with Matt (Bell), but we talked before the race. We were just going to run clean, and save it for Boris (Said) and Kenny (Wilden). Unfortunately for them (Bell and Said), they had an issue. When I was out there I just focused and trying to save the car and have something for Kenny. And he brought it home."

Ken Wilden (No. 59 RehagenRacingProducts.com Ford Mustang GT; first, GS): "I was a big battle, and we had to have patience. We took the pit stop when we did a little later than the other guys and that put us back a bit. I got a little anxious and we ran into a full-course yellow. (Mike) McGovern put me over the curb there so I decided to just settle down, and I'll get him if I'm patient. I decided I'll take care of the car. It was incredible that it hung on for so long, because we were beating it up on these curbs.

"I got the lead on the last restart. He (Todd Lamb) had been jumping the restart down there. He was in first gear going full throttle coming out of the last turn, which you're not supposed to do. I caught on to it, so I was in first gear and I was ready for him. I gave it to him on the inside. I wasn't going to let him pull away on that restart. On that pass getting by him, it was tight. We were all over the curbs, and then I pushed coming out of the corner. I was honestly trying to give him room on the outside, and I couldn't hold on to the car. I really wouldn't call it contact - I knicked him a little bit in the bumper, but it was nothing that would put him around or anything. It was good, strong racing. I'm real thrilled with the finish here."

Glenn Bocchino (No. 32 Cybernation BMW M3; second, GS): "It was a great race. I had some good battles and kept it clean. Todd (Lamb) took the car and he did a great job with it. It was a great race - perfect strategy."

Todd Lamb (No. 32 Cybernation BMW M3; second, GS): "Apparently, these Cobalt Friction brakes are so good that the Mustang could stop and he drove me right off the track. What are you going to do? That's racing. It was a lot of fun. We had a good car and led a lot of laps. I've got to thank Glenn (Bocchino)- he did a great job and brought the car back in one piece."

Duncan Ende (No. 39 DigiTrust Porsche 997; third, GS): "It was a real challenging opening stint out there. We had a great car to begin with, and we could run with the leaders, but about one-third of the way through my stint we developed a major front-end push. It felt like a rear bar broke. I brought it in, the guys checked it out, but we couldn't cure the problem while I was out there. Then it just started dropping like a rock - I couldn't get back on the power and all the other cars could put the power down and drive right by me going up the hills. The car held up relatively well, with all the cautions cooling down the tires. All things being equal, the crew did a great job getting me up to the podium today. We had a solid car at the beginning, we could run with the lead guys, but we completely lost the front end and picked up a massive understeer. It looked like we broke a rear sway bar and guys could drive right by me. I couldn't get back on the power. It was worse than it normally was. It was a struggle, but Spencer did a great job getting us on the podium. It was a wacky race."

Spencer Pumpelly (No. 39 DigiTrust Porsche 997; third, GS): "We had an issue at the beginning, but the guys did a great job adjusting the car and got us back into it. I felt like we had a car that could win as long as we could stay in front, but the guys could drive right by me - we were giving up two or three car lengths on every straightaway. I was a sitting duck anyway, but to pass someone in the last corner I was slowing myself down that much more, and I went from first - briefly - to fourth going down the next straightaway. TRG was fantastic today. The car had a weird issue - nothing like we had in practice. Any other team would have probably said, 'oh well,' but our guys threw everything they had at it and got us on the lead lap. They made some huge changes, and got us on the podium after all that."

Will Turner (No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW 328i; first, ST): "It was a tough race; I knew it was going to be tough. The BMW had it today; the car was just hooked up. I can't say enough for the team. I want to thank my co-driver, Don Salama, for getting us here."

Don Salama (No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW 328i; first, ST): "We had one of those cars you don't always have. We had a good set-up today. It was perfect for this track. We're very happy."

Tom Long (No. 145 Mazda/Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5; second, ST): "Yeah - it was clean racing. It was real good. Our Mazda handles real well in the corners. We were able to out-break him (Will Turner) coming into some of the brake zones. I slipped a little wide on tires and unfortunately we couldn't get it done. I'll tell you Freedom Autosport Team has done a great job and Derek had a great first stint in the car. I'm really excited about that."

Derek Whitis (No. 145 Mazda/Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5; second, ST): "It was pretty crazy. Tom (Long) was the fast guy. For me to get any TV time, I had to do something really super."

Andrew Carbonell (No. 146 Mazda/Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5; third, ST): "I was working really hard trying to keep Tom (Long) behind us but as the race went on the tires started getting really greasy. They started to heat up just a bit. Other than that, the Mazda is a really great car. They're just amazing through the corners. It was just an amazingly fun run."

Rhett O'Doski (No. 146 Mazda/Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5; third, ST): "That's my job, to turn it over to the fast guy as quickly as possible. We had a great car today. It's a real thrill to put two cars, two Mazdas, on the podium here at (Mazda Raceway) Laguna Seca."

-credit: grand-am

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Boris Said , Lawson Aschenbach , James Gue , Will Turner , Ken Wilden , Spencer Pumpelly , Tom Long , Don Salama , Hugh Plumb , Bret Seafuse , Ian Baas , Glenn Bocchino , Matt Plumb , Dean Martin , Billy Johnson , Duncan Ende , Jim Click , Mike McGovern , Andrew Carbonell , Todd Lamb , Rhett O'Doski , Derek Whitis , Josh Hurley , Andrew Caddell , Pat Iannucci , Chris Miller , Matt Bell , Jack Roush Jr.
Teams Rehagen Racing , Turner Motorsport , Compass360 Racing , Freedom Autosport , SpeedSource