Honda of America Racing Team wins UnitedAuto 200 Sport Touring race from pole. PHOENIX, Ariz. (May 2, 2003) -- John Schmitt started the day by putting the Honda of America Racing Team ...
Honda of America Racing Team wins UnitedAuto 200 Sport Touring race from pole.
PHOENIX, Ariz. (May 2, 2003) -- John Schmitt started the day by putting the Honda of America Racing Team #00 Acura RSX-S on the pole for the Grand-Am Cup Series UnitedAuto 200 Sport Touring race, and his co-driver Pete Halsmer wrapped it up by taking the checkered flag under the lights for the duo's second victory of the season.
Although Schmitt started in the pole position, his time at the front of the field was short lived, as the TC Kline Racing #12 BMW Z4 and Team Lexus #2 Lexus IS300 both jumped past the #00 Acura on the opening lap. However Schmitt managed to stay in the top four during the opening hour of the race and was running in third place when the only caution of the race came out on lap 42 for debris on the track from contact between the SpeedSource #68 Porsche Boxster and Team Lexus #0 IS300.
A quick pit stop by the HART team returned the #00 Acura back to the track in second place with Halsmer behind the wheel. With each lap Halsmer cut into the lead of the Team Lexus #3 IS300 Wagon, which had stayed out during the caution, and eventually overtook the Lexus for the lead on lap 55.
"John put the car on the pole. He did a good job of keeping the car right where we wanted to be, until I got it in, and it ran good," said Halsmer. "The guys did a great job with strategizing. It was a little nip and tuck at the end and towards the latter part of the race because we knew we were right on the margin for fuel. We thought we'd have to stop and we were trying to open up a little bit of a gap."
>From that point on there was no stopping the #00 Acura, as it slowly mounted a powerful lead over the rest of the field. Halsmer ducked into the pits on lap 96 for fuel and tires, but still held more than an eight second lead over the second-place #2 Lexus when it returned to the track.
Tim Gaffney and Ian James held on to take second place overall in the #2 Lexus IS300, while David Tuaty and Bransen Patch took third place in the TC Kline Racing #92 BMW Z4.
The Sport Touring II class offered plenty of excitement for the fans on hand as a trio of Acura Integras and a Chevy Cavalier put on a door-banging show for most of race. While all four of the cars held the lead at some point during the 2.5-hour race, in the end it was the HRPworld.com #43 Acura Integra LS of Will Nonnamaker and Howie Liebengood taking top honors for the first time this season.
"There were all four cars in ST II running together for the first hour and a half - that was just amazing. That's a testament to how good the rules are," said Nonnamaker who is looking for his third-straight ST II driver championship this year.
Eric Curran and Bob Beede finished second in the ST II class in the Bill Fenton Motorsports #27 Acura and the father-son duo of Joe and Wayne Nonnamaker rounded out the podium in the HRPworld.com #42 Acura.
Tickets are still available for Saturday's AJ's Fine Foods 250 and Grand-Am Cup Phoenix Sport Touring 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. They can be purchased at the gate or online at www.phoenixinternationalraceway.com. Additional information on the Grand-Am Cup Series is available online at www.grandamerican.com.