Curran's Acura Conquers Denver Streets 19-year-old Davis Clinches Top-Rookie Prize The RealTime Acura team was victorious for the fifth time this year in the SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car race through the concrete canyons of the Denver...
Curran's Acura Conquers Denver Streets
19-year-old Davis Clinches Top-Rookie Prize
The RealTime Acura team was victorious for the fifth time this year in the SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car race through the concrete canyons of the Denver street circuit.
Eric Curran won the race in his RealTime Acura RSX, his first World Challenge series win and the RealTime team's 58th since 1993. Eric now holds the distinction as the seventh different driver to secure a victory for the Saukville, Wis.-based team.
Denver University rising sophomore Brandon Davis finished sixth on the day, earning enough points to clinch The Winning Team Rookie of the Year award. This was his seventh consecutive top-10 finish in a RealTime Acura TSX and solidifies his hold on sixth place in Drivers' points.
Curran's dominant win by 2.628 seconds over the Mazda6 of Jeff Altenburg expanded Acura's lead for the series Manufacturers' Championship to four points, with two races remaining.
RTR team leader Peter Cunningham holds the Drivers' Championship points lead, as he has done since the season opened in March at Sebring. Fla., but contender Randy Pobst has now reduced the margin to five points.
"We've survived the toughest part of the season -- five races in eight weeks with precious little time to regroup between events," said Cunningham. "Our drivers drove responsibly, kept their fenders firmly in place and scored well, with a pair of wins and three other podium finishes. We are particularly pleased with Eric, who has flown the Acura banner proudly in this span, scoring manufacturer points as the highest-placed Acura on three of the five occasions.
"Now we can focus on the Labor Day weekend race at Mosport, and use the five weeks between that and the season finale at Laguna Seca to make sure the RealTime Acuras are as perfect as humanly possible."
In the Denver race, on a 1.657-mile temporary street circuit, Curran launched his RSX from fifth on the grid to the race lead by the time the field had reached the fifth turn.
"It was all about the race start," Eric told the media. "I went right up through the middle of the field and got by (pole-sitter, Chip) Herr when he maybe missed a shift. This is my sixth season in World Challenge, but my first year racing the full schedule," he said. "The two things that have helped me are the talent of the RealTime crew, and the fact I'm racing an Acura RSX in another series at the same time. All the 'seat time' has been a real benefit."
Curran lost the lead for only one of the race's 30 laps. Second place qualifier Pobst sneaked by Eric at the restart after the event's only full-course caution on lap six, but spun after brake lock-up one lap later, dropping 12 places and ruining his chance to take over the Drivers' Championship points lead.
Once Curran resumed the point, he had his hands full holding off pole-sitter Herr's Ford Focus. By the two-thirds mark, a pair of Mazdas had surged upward, giving the Ford driver something else to think about which allowed the RealTime pilot to gain a safe advantage.
The 33 points Curran earned with the win greatly improved his Drivers' Championship aspirations; he now sits just 11 points back from points leader Cunningham.
Davis qualified ninth and worked his way to a strong sixth place finish, cementing the honor of best rookie and receiving an invitation to the podium to celebrate.
"I'm having just an amazing time racing with these RealTime guys," Davis reported. "I've learned a lot from my teammates, had way too much fun, and got to close the deal here in front of family and friends!"
Davis is in good company as the fourth RealTime driver to win the top-rookie title, following Michael Galati (1996), Pierre Kleinubing (1997), and Kevin Schrantz (1999).
Cunningham and Kleinubing, historically the headliners of RealTime Racing, did what they could to keep their Driver's Championship hopes alive.
Kleinubing, carrying 190 pounds of REWARDS weight, qualified fourth but finished eighth in his Acura TSX. He maintains his third place in the points and edges closer to his boss as there are now three drivers within 11 points of the leader.
Cunningham, carrying a series-leading 200 extra pounds in his TSX, lost two positions from his eighth place start.
"There was very little Pierre or I could do with that much weight, but we were still startled to see Randy (Pobst) fall to a distant 12th and be able to drive his way back to seventh with a similar REWARDS situation (195lbs). The good news is we kept our cars away from the concrete and I was able to leave Denver with the points lead intact after another top-10 finish."
Nick Esayian, who two weeks ago at Portland scored a career-best ninth place finish in his Acura RSX, qualified 15th but became an unintended victim of the opening lap contretemps. He lost only one position, though, then drove his way back to a 14th place finish.
The Denver race was televised Sunday on SPEED TV, and will re-air Thursday, August 18 at 400a ET.
The 10th round of the 2005 Touring Car season will be north of the border on September 2-4 at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ontario, an hour northeast of Toronto.