Road America: Acura Motorsports race report



Patron Highcroft Wins 2nd 2009 ALMS Race, Lowe's Fernandez Takes 6th LMP2 Victory

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- The end of Sunday's two-hour, 45-minute Time Warner Cable Road Race Showcase main event was actually a trophy dash between two good friends.

Acura driving stars David Brabham and Gil de Ferran battled nose-to-tail with respective Acura ARX-02a prototype sports cars for the last 15 minutes, with Brabham, the recent 24 Hours of Le Mans champion nipping the 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner by a mere .461 seconds on the legendary four-mile road course.

Brabham co-drove with his partner Scott Sharp in the No. 9 Patron Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-02a to the team's second 2009 overall win and extended Brabham and Sharp's LMP1 point advantage.

Great strategy by the Patron Highcroft squad on the final pit stop moved Brabham to the lead over de Ferran when the team changed just two left-side Michelin tires to the de Ferran team's four-tire change. Brabham then held off de Ferran in some of the best prototype wheel-to-wheel action this year.

De Ferran and driving partner Simon Pagenaud were seeking a record-setting fifth overall ALMS win Sunday at Road America with Pagenaud holding the early lead. But an early pit stop for Pagenaud gave Sharp the overall advantage and the Patron Highcroft team maintained its lead throughout the remainder of the 71-lap feature race.

For the fifth time in 2009, Acura cars scored a 1-2-3 sweep overall.

The Lowe's Fernandez Acura team, with drivers Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz, finished third overall and won its sixth LMP2 class title in the No. 15 Lowe's Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01b sports car. Much like at Mid-Ohio last week, impressive pit strategy by the Lowe's Fernandez crew helped Fernandez hold off the charge of the Dyson Racing Mazda at the checkered flag.

The Lowe's Fernandez Acura team recorded its second Michelin Green X Challenge victory for the best fuel economy and speed among all prototype cars.

The American Le Mans Series moves to Mosport International Raceway on Sunday, August 30, for one of Canada's biggest annual road racing events.

DAVID BRABHAM (#9 Patron Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-02a): "This was a great comeback weekend for us. The car was not good on Friday and Saturday. But the team did a tremendous job with some changes in the chassis. The car was very good today. Late in the race, we felt just two tires would keep us fast against Gil. The car was quick and I knew if I didn't make a mistake I could hold Gil off to the finish. That's what it took. Gil is a great driver and friend. But I wanted to get our team back in the Winner's Circle today."

SCOTT SHARP (#9 Patron Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-02a): "This is such a big win for our team. We have been close at Lime Rock and Mid-Ohio but we had some tough luck. We were able to come back today and, as usual, David drove so well at the end to put us in Victory Lane. We have had some hard luck throughout the season. But this win is special at a special place like Road America. It feels great."

GIL de FERRAN (#66 XM Radio de Ferran Acura ARX-02a): "That was a great race with David. He didn't make any mistakes and drove very strategically today. With a driver of David's talent, I wouldn't have expected anything else from him. Our car had the speed today and I was able to close in on David at the end. But closing in and passing David are two different things. We didn't get the best breaks today, but that is the way racing falls sometimes. It was a hard-fought race and we'll take second today."

SIMON PAGENAUD (#66 XM Radio de Ferran Acura ARX-02a): "Our plan today was to pit early and get a chance at opening up a lead in the middle of the race. But the second pit stop helped the Patron Highcroft team and we lost some of our advantage. The car was sliding a little early, but, after the first pit stop, the XM Acura was very fast. I think you saw that with my run and Gil's stint. The race was exciting for the fans. Just some great competition. Sure, we wanted to win our fifth straight. We give the Patron Highcroft team a lot of credit. "

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura ARX-01b): "Our pit strategy has been fantastic in the last two races. Luis and I have driven hard to win too, but the crew's planning has been great. I was able to get a very good restart at the end and that was a key, also. Winning six races this year is something I wasn't sure was possible. But this Lowe's Acura team worked very hard in the winter to be prepared for the ALMS season, and that hard work has paid off with these great runs. It is exciting to win here at Road America. I have come close before, but have finally made it."

LUIS DIAZ (#15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura ARX-01b): "I knew that the Mazdas would be fast at the start. They got by me on the front straightaway. But I was able to stay right with them, and the Lowe's Acura felt very good throughout the race. It was important for our car to be good on the entire four-mile circuit. And our crew made a very smart call in the pits to help us again. They are so good when it comes to strategy."

-credit: acura motorsports

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers David Brabham , Scott Sharp , Gil de Ferran , Luis Diaz , Simon Pagenaud
Teams Dyson Racing , HART