WEISBERG TAKES LITES 2 WIN AND THE CHAMPIONSHIP; NICOLOSI GETS FIRST LITES 1 WIN OF THE YEAR
BRASELTON, GEORGIA (October 1, 2010) John Weisberg won when it counted most and Anthony Nicolosi overcame a roller coaster season to finally reach the top step of the podium in Round 15 of the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship at Road Atlanta.
Weisberg, driving the #75 BERG Racing/REDCOM/Solar Stik West WR1000 in Lites 2, started second knowing that with Lee Alexander (#23 Factory 48 Motorsports/APE Raceparts) just behind him on the grid and only three points behind in the championship, he had to make a move. Weisberg passed the polesitter, Atlanta's Eric Vassian (#10 WEST Racing) early in the 22-lap, caution-free event, returning the favor Vassian had put on him in Thursday's race and stayed in front to win not only the race, but the Lites 2 title.
"It was definitely payback," smiled Weisberg. "I got him in turn seven and finished it off in turn 10. Then I put my head down and really tried as hard as I could to stay in front. It was an awesome race he would catch me, then I'd get a couple of tenths back up, then we'd get up on traffic and he'd catch back up again. It took every bit of my race logic and tactics to keep him behind me. It's tough to look out of the front and the back of the car at the same time!
"I was a little nervous about the championship going into the day, though less nervous after yesterday (when he took over the championship lead). I really just needed to get positions between Lee and me to make it easier. I barely slept at all Wednesday night, but last night, I slept like a baby.
"Going into the season, with Lee winning the first race at Sebring and me barely finishing with the start of what would be half a season of mechanical issues, getting the championship seemed like a daunting task. But a couple of wins after that helped. I can't say enough about my crew chief, Danny Thiel, Jr. - an 18 year old kid makes this happen, he has an incredibly bright future in racing."
Alexander was disappointed to finish second in the championship, but happy with his overall performance in his first season in the series.
"It's been a lot of fun this season," said Alexander. "I knew that it would be a higher level here, being around all the pros, and it has been. In terms of my performance, I had no idea where I would stack up with everybody. I was a little intimidated by everybody at Sebring, not really knowing how to deal with the traffic or with the L1 cars. But as the season went along, I got to know the other drivers, what they're going to do, who I can trust on the track. I was basically just hoping to be competitive, and if I wasn't in the beginning, to learn enough to get up to speed and be in the mix with everybody. It happened a little better than I expected."
In Lites 1, Anthony Nicolosi, driving the #8 Performance Tech/Medical Connections Elan DP02, started third and immediately went after the two leaders, Jon Brownson (#34 Eurosport Racing) and Charlie Shears (#21 CORE autosport/US Builders), getting around them both on the first lap.
"We trimmed the car out so I could get down the straightaways," said Nicolosi. "The one thing I knew was that I had to get out of turn seven well to get them out of turn 10. Coming out of 10, I thought, this is my shot and I got it cleanly. From then on, I just put my head down, put the mirrors away and just took off. I got a few thirds this year, a few seconds, but no firsts, so I saved the best for last. I had a few opportunities and had some bad luck this year, but I ended it on a good note."
Gary Gibson (#13 CORE autosport/Perfect Pedal) finished second, with Brownson third.
Shears clinched the Lites 1 championship in the previous event at Mosport. Antonio Downs (#4 Eurosport Racing/Lamex Foods) finished second in the title chase with brother Matt Downs (#12 Eurosport Racing/Hormel Bacon Bits) in third.
The Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship features racing between two sports racer prototype classes, Lites 1 and Lites 2, presenting a dimension of competition as drivers must be aware of classes with distinctly different speeds as they navigate the race track. This is the same challenge faced by the drivers of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron.
Visit www.prototypelites.com for the latest schedule and updates.