Valiante, Gilsinger take Street Tuner victory for Honda over Nonnamaker Porsche
Fresh from his rookie run in the Indianapolis 500, James Davison prevailed in a terrific battle with Matt Plumb throughout the final hour to win Saturday night’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Kansas Speedway.
Davison and Kris Wilson teamed in the No. 07 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage (in photo, from a previous race) giving Davison, the team and Aston Martin their first victory in the series. It was the second victory for Wilson, who narrowed the gap in the Grand Sport (GS) point standings in the process.
Wilson started from the pole and led the opening 70 minutes of the two-hour, 30-minute race up until his pit stop. That gave the lead to Matt Plumb, who took over for starting driver Nick Longhi early in the race in the No. 13 Rum Bum Racing Porsche 911.
Davison made his charge throughout the final 30 minutes, getting around Plumb in traffic with 24 minutes remaining. Plumb recovered and regained the lead, only to see Davison get back in front to stay with 13 minutes left. Racing without radio communications, Plumb stumbled on fuel with two laps remaining, forcing a late pit stop that resulted in a fourth-place finish.
“It was certainly a competitive race, and I was trying as hard as I could,” Davison said. “I did throw away the (Mazda Raceway) Laguna (Seca) race, so I’m pleased for the whole TRG-AMR team. Kris did a great job putting the car on pole and he gave me the car in a competitive position. That made it easier for me than any other race I’ve had before, not having to come from behind.”
Andrew Aquilante finished second in the No. 32 Phoenix American Ford Mustang Boss 302R started by Kurt Rezzetano, 20.934 seconds back, followed by Brett Sandberg and Al Carter in the No. 7 Rebel Rock Racing Porsche 911.
John Edwards and Trent Hindman entered the race with a commanding 25-point lead (127-102) in the GS standings, but the No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 drivers never were in contention and finished 16th, four laps down.
“We had a loss of power, and it started on the pace lap,” Edwards said. “That’s why I got swarmed on the opening lap. The power came back, but it went away again. All we could do was stay out and get as many points as we could.”
Valiante, Gilsinger Win ST In HART Honda Civic Si
Last year, Michael Valiante beat the Street Tuner (ST) field to the checkered flag in the inaugural Continental Tire Challenge race at Kansas Speedway – only to be penalized after the race for “manipulating the field” on the final restart which resulted in an 11th-place finish.
Saturday, Valiante came out ahead in a battle with Wayne Nonnamaker, joining Gilsinger for the first victory of the season in the No. 93 HART Honda Civic Si.
Valiante took the lead with 45 minutes remaining from Charles Espenlaub, who took over the No. 87 Rebel Rock Racing Porsche Cayman started from the ST pole by Corey Lewis. Wayne Nonnamaker – who took over for his brother Will Nonnamaker in the No. 42 Team Sahlen’s Porsche Cayman – made repeated attempts to take the lead over in the final 30 minutes, but came up 0.794 seconds short.
“This was one of the toughest wins I’ve had, with that much pressure and knowing that second and third were coming,” Valiante said. “I knew I couldn’t make any mistakes, particularly when they are on your bumper. I kept telling myself, ‘hit your marks, hit your marks’ and get good exit shots, and I was able to pull it off.”
Lewis and Espenlaub finished third to give Rebel Rock Racing its second podium finish of the night, followed by Ryan Eversley and Kyle Gimple in the No. 75 Compass360 Racing Honda Civic Si, and Jim Jonsin and Tom Dyer in the No. 88 Rebel Rock Racing Porsche Cayman.
The next race for the Continental Tire Challenge will be at Watkins Glen International on Saturday, June 28.