BRASELTON, Ga. (October 11, 2002) -- Peter Cunningham, of W. Bend, Wis., captured his second SPEED World Challenge victory of the day, winning the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED GT Championship Round Nine at Road Atlanta, part of the Audi Presents Petit Le...
BRASELTON, Ga. (October 11, 2002) -- Peter Cunningham, of W. Bend, Wis., captured his second SPEED World Challenge victory of the day, winning the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED GT Championship Round Nine at Road Atlanta, part of the Audi Presents Petit Le Mans week. Randy Pobst, of nearby Gainesville, Ga., and Phil McClure, of Floris, Iowa, completed the top three.
Starting the No. 42 RealTime Racing Acura NSX from the second row, Cunningham ran in fourth place for the first half of the event before making a charge to the front, passing Paul Edwards, of Santa Maria, Calif., on lap 12, Pobst on lap 15 and Michael Galati, of N. Olmstead, Ohio, on lap 16 for the race lead. From there, Cunningham was out front for the remaining 11 laps of the 27-lap race to win by 0.650-second, averaging 95.095 mph.
"It seemed like nobody wanted to win this race," said Cunningham. "I thought early on that I would be lucky to finish fourth, but I was able to get around Randy [Pobst] when it looked he had a problem, and Michael [Galati] for the lead."
Driving the No. 22 1st Interstate Inn 3R Racing Porsche 911 Cup, Pobst started from the Woody's Ice Pole but quickly fell back to third at the standing start. He regained the lead five laps later, and looked to be on his way to a fourth straight win until his car developed a vibration. Thinking he had a tire going down, Pobst relinquished the lead but was able to recover and score his sixth podium finish in six races this season.
"Everything seemed so easy at the beginning," said Pobst. "But then halfway through the race, the car suddenly started to break loose and turn to the right. I thought I had a tire going down until it started to turn left on me, so I knew it wasn't the tire. It got better for a few laps but then the car started to overheat and I wasn't able to challenge Peter [Cunningham]."
For McClure, the third-place finish was the best of the year for the No. 73 Aggregate Industries 3R Racing Corvette Z06, and equaled his career-best finish in the series.
"It was a magical weekend for us," said McClure. "We haven't been able to finish races recently, some of which was my fault, but everything the 3R Racing team tried on the car this weekend worked."
For series point leader Galati , the event looked like a great opportunity to extend his point lead. From his fifth starting spot, he got a great jump at the green light and was able to take the lead on lap four when he made a daring pass around both Edwards and Pobst in turn one. The pass was named the Rogaine " Hair Raising Pass of the Day" by the SPEED Channel broadcast team. Galati would fall back later in the event and finish fourth with a last lap pass around Edwards, his Champion Audi teammate.
The SPEED GT win, along with the SPEED Touring Car victory earlier in the day, was only the second time in series history that a driver has swept both races on a World Challenge weekend, matching the feat of Mike Fitzgerald, of Phoenix, Ariz., who won both Road Atlanta events in 2000.
With the win, Cunningham was able to close the gap on Galati to 15 points, 246 to 231. The second-place finish by Pobst clinched the 2002 Manufacturers' Title for Porsche, their third title in the last four year.
Today's race will be broadcast on SPEED Channel after an extensive post-production process on Saturday, October 26 at 9:00 p.m. (eastern).
-scca pro racing/cf-