It's all about the points. The Grand Am Cup Series teams returned to the classic Virginia International Raceway for what many thought would be a repeat of the previous VIR event - dry skies and blistering heat. Instead, the teams were greeted...
It's all about the points.
The Grand Am Cup Series teams returned to the classic Virginia International Raceway for what many thought would be a repeat of the previous VIR event - dry skies and blistering heat. Instead, the teams were greeted with gray skies and a promise of hard rain as the street stock series took to the full-length, twisting road course.
"Frankly, I was hoping for a wet race," commented Villaconn driver, Don Salama. "The rain would minimize the power advantage the Acuras, Lexuses and Hyundais all have over our BMWs." Salama was to get his wish - in a big way.
Qualifying was a wet/dry affair. It was not, however, the usual Villaconn storm to the front - that would have to be saved for the 3 hour race itself. Salama's codriver, Bransen Patch, placed the HMS Motorsport/BL Patch BMW Z3 Coupe on the starting grid in 11th place with a time some two seconds off the pole sitting Hyundai Tiburon. Starting just behind in 12th was team points leader, Beau Buisson in the Primerica Z3 entry he was to share with codriver, Ken Dobson. Villaconn team owner, Alfredo Villamil, placed his Sports Car Works BMW 330i 16th on the wet grid. Villamil would share the drive with Jerry Spangler and David Chenoweth.
Wade Gaughran in the pole-sitting Tiburon would lead at the start until falling victim to the slippery surface bringing out the first (of many) yellow flags. Bransen Patch had worked his way through the field to 6th before suffering the same fate. A quick stop to check the Z3 over and change drivers. Patch's codriver, Don Salama, would rejoin the rain parade in 17th.
To his liking, Salama found the Villaconn-prepared BMW perfect in the wet. "I just put my head down and set to the task of bringing the Z3 through the field," added Salama after a storming drive to finish second. "The only car I really couldn't pass was Halsmer's HART Acura RSX - who eventually won. He would pull ten car lengths on me on the back straight leaving me to spend the lap catching him under braking and in the corners. I continually tried to pressure him at the end of the race, hoping he would make a mistake. But that just didn't happen. Nonetheless, it was one of my most rewarding drives." The result means that Salama and Patch (only 21 points off the leader) can keep their championship drive alive.
With a strong third place, Beau Buisson reduced his championship deficit from 7 points to only one with two races remaining. Teammate Ken Dobson finds himself 9th overall in the driver's standings - only 28 points back. Salama and Patch are tied in 6th following VIR.
Villaconn International aims to repeat their team championship from 2001. Working together at VIR allowed the group to add 2 more points over their nearest competitor, King Motorsports. And, as Matt Connolly likes to say, it's all about the points.