Jeannette and Empringham Take Victory in Mosport 200; Empringham Takes Sole Possession of GS Points Lead BOWMANVILLE, Ontario, Canada (June 18, 2005) -- Not many drivers have run more laps at Mosport International Raceway than David...
Jeannette and Empringham Take Victory in Mosport 200; Empringham Takes Sole Possession of GS Points Lead
BOWMANVILLE, Ontario, Canada (June 18, 2005) -- Not many drivers have run more laps at Mosport International Raceway than David Empringham, and the Toronto native used all of that experience to his advantage in Saturday's Grand-Am Cup Series Mosport 200 as he charged into the lead on Lap 49 of the 82-lap race and never looked back en route to his second victory of the season.
Empringham and co-driver Gunnar Jeannette combined to lead 73 laps in their No. 05 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT, and Empringham held off a late charge by Boris Said in the No. 99 Anchor Racing BMW M3 to win by 1.317 seconds. Both Empringham and Jeannette now have two victories from the first six Grand-Am Cup Grand Sport (GS) races, and both drivers scored all of their wins in the No. 05 Mustang, which has now won three races.
However, the driver combinations for each of the No. 05 machine's victories have been different. Jeannette--who filled-in for Empringham's regular co-driver, Scott Maxwell, this weekend at Mosport--scored the car's first victory with co-driver James Gue in Round 3 at California Speedway, while Empringham and Maxwell triumphed in Round 4 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
"We were pretty confident coming into this race because this our home track and where we did all of the development work on the car," Jeannette said. "We knew that this would be the kind of track that would almost be an equal ground between us and the BMWs so we were a little bit concerned but we knew throughout the weekend that we were strong. I just have to say that I had an absolute blast racing with Justin (Marks). He raced me clean the whole time and we went through traffic and we were both doing the same stuff. It was really fun and I was just kind of doing what I needed to do to keep it out front and get it to Dave in first place which we did and he did a fantastic job."
Even more importantly, the victory moved Empringham into sole possession of the Grand-Am Cup Series GS driver standings by a healthy margin. After entering the race tied for the lead with Maxwell and holding a slim four-point advantage over No. 6 Zoom Motorsports/Brumos Porsche 996 co-drivers Mike McCalmont and Darren Law--who failed to score points due to an accident involving McCalmont and the No. 85 Knobel Racing Porsche 996 of Charles Putman on the opening lap--Empringham ended the day leading Jeannette in the standings by 25 points, 177-152.
"We are fortunate that this is where we have done most of our testing," Empringham said. "It is our home track and the track that I have the most miles on. Everything fits in for this track and the strength of the Mustang is obviously the power. With an uphill long straight like that we were very optimistic coming into here. The passing zones were where we had the strength. It was a good weekend. We are clearly looking at the points, and trying not to make mistakes and get every point we can. At the end of the day Multimatic and Ford had a great day and we need these points because there are going to be tracks like Phoenix and Trois-Rivieres where we are really going to struggle."
Although they never led, Said and co-driver Anders Hainer stayed within striking distance of the front of the field virtually throughout the race. Hainer drove the first shift and held the fastest lap in the race for most of the event before David Murry turned in a flyer with three laps remaining in the No. 13 Unitech Racing Nissan 350Z. Ironically, it was a Unitech Racing Nissan that Hainer and Said drove to their most recent podium result as co-drivers, a victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway last September.
Said picked up where Hainer left off and it appeared for a time that he may have something for Empringham in the closing laps. Empringham, however, had the lapped No. 92 Anchor Racing BMW of James Sofronas between himself and Said's second-place machine, and Said was not able to fight past his teammate to challenge for the victory.
"It was a fun race," Said commented. "Anders did a great job, this is a new team that just started this year and it is getting better and better every week. David Empringham is an unbelievable driver here. We have raced so many times together here over the years in 24-hour races and we have had a blast. Today the Mustang just had too much for us up the straightaway. We were way better on half the track and they were way better on the other half. It is just the way it falls some times."
"I had the fastest race lap up to a point, but I just got stuck in traffic," Hainer said. "That is just racing. I kept a good pace behind the top-two cars and I thought Boris could get in and finish the job but I just didn't realize how strong the Mustang would be with Empringham in it. He drove a phenomenal race. Boris did a great job and we didn't have a chance to change tires so he was driving on old tires which didn't help."
Multimatic Motorsports had plenty to celebrate at their "home" track, as Tom Milner found his way past the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 of Terry Borcheller for third place on the final lap to put both Multimatic Mustangs on the podium. Milner and Borcheller were both "substitute" drivers for the weekend. Milner--who normally drives a BMW M3 for his father's BMW Team PTG in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series--was brought in by Multimatic to stand-in for Maxwell and was assigned to co-drive the No. 55 Multimatic Ford Mustang with James Gue, while Borcheller drove the Turner machine in place of Bill Auberlen.
Gue led two laps prior to his pit stop and Marks led seven before handing over to Borcheller, who brought the No. 96 BMW home in fourth. Murry and co-driver Blake Rosser rounded out the top five with a fifth-place performance.
FATHER-AND-SON TEAM TAKES FATHER'S DAY WEEKEND VICTORY IN ST CLASS
For the second time in seven days, Jim Holtom found himself standing atop the Sport Touring (ST) class podium, as he claimed the ST victory co-driving with his 17-year-old son, Jamie, in the Mosport 200. For the first time ever, Holtom also finds himself standing atop the ST points table with five of 10 races now in the books.
After starting from the class pole position and leading early on in the race, Jim Holtom turned the car over to Jamie for the second half of the race. The younger Holtom did his part by stalking the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 of Sylvain Tremblay through the closing stages of the race and finding his way past in Turn 8 with just three laps remaining. Although they crossed the finish line practically nose-to-tail, Jamie was able to keep Tremblay at bay and appropriately brought home a victory on Father's Day weekend.
"We just got a little beside each other coming into (Turn) 5 and it was a drag race from there," said Jamie Holtom. "Luckily our Cobalt has lots of power so it was good coming up the straight. Just on the last lap there was a bit of contact but that's racing. It wasn't a blatant attempt to spin me out or anything, it is just close tight racing and it is great that Grand-Am can produce that. We recognized that the Cobalt was going to be a really strong program so we really backed it 100% and it is starting to show."
Between winning the ST class in the Chemung Canal Trust 200 at Watkins Glen International last weekend alongside Andy Lally and today's Mosport 200 class victory with Jamie, Jim Holtom took over the class points lead at the halfway point in the season. He holds a six-point advantage (138-132) over Tremblay's co-driver David Haskell.
"There's nothing better than winning with my boy," Jim Holtom said. "We figured the Cobalts would be strong at The Glen and at Mosport. We are not so sure about the other tracks. We still have some work to do on the car but it has been working quite well and we have what I think is a really strong home-track advantage here at Mosport. Jamie last year wrote off two cars in another series on this track and I personally have crashed at every single corner except corner seven on this track, and Jamie has crashed at two of them. We just took them all down, one by one, to be done with it."
Tremblay and Haskell finished second for their third ST podium in five races this season. While Haskell moved into second place in the ST championship with the second-place run, co-driver Tremblay moved into third place and is two points behind Haskell. The co-drivers are defending ST co-champions, but Tremblay was hoping for more in the race.
"It is real frustrating," Tremblay said. "Our cars are so different that off the back straightaway I got alongside of him (Jamie Holtom), clearly, I felt, to the inside. He chopped off, I jammed on the brakes and I tapped him. I am a gentleman so I backed way off and let him get his car back under control and take the win. We gave it everything we had. We will take the second place and take the points. We are working pretty hard and we have some more tricks up our sleeve."
"We are always thinking championship," Haskell said. "That is what we came here to do, win the manufacturer championship for Mazda, and the team championship and the driver championship we got last year. We almost had it today, it was real close but second is real good, and we will take it. We got good points. We knew Watkins Glen and Mosport were tough tracks for us. Everybody pretty much knows we don't have the most horsepower out there but we've got a great little handling car, it brakes well, so they are going to be in for a surprise at Barber and Mid-Ohio when we get to the tracks that we are good at."
Travis Walker and Aaron Povoledo finished third in the No. 75 Kensai Racing Acura RSX-S for their first career Grand-Am Cup Series class podium. Tom Lepper and Bo Roach finished fourth in the No. 32 Franklin American Mortgage Chevrolet Cobalt, with Michael Thornley and Peter Schwartzott completing the top five in the No. 74 Kensai Racing Acura TSX.