HONDA AND POBST SWEEP P.I.R. SUPER TOURING RACES June 22, 1996 Portland International Raceway, Portland, Oregon - In an impressive display of dominance on Saturday, Randy Pobst in his T.C. Kline Racing, Neuspeed Honda redressed the problems...
HONDA AND POBST SWEEP P.I.R. SUPER TOURING RACES
June 22, 1996
Portland International Raceway, Portland, Oregon - In an impressive display of dominance on Saturday, Randy Pobst in his T.C. Kline Racing, Neuspeed Honda redressed the problems he's experienced in the first few races to take back to back wins in the Portland Super Touring races. The double win is the first for a driver and manufacturer in the inaugural season of the North American Touring Car Championship, and the first win for a Honda Super Touring car outside of Japan. The victories give Pobst the lead in the Drivers' Championship, with 108 points to Dominic Dobson's 100, and David Donohue's 99. They also put Honda in the hunt for the Manufacturers' Championship with a scant three points separating Honda from first place Dodge.
Pobst sat on pole for race number one of the first event with back to back races on the Super Touring calendar. His grid position had been determined by Friday's qualifying, but then threatened by a crash that he had on the third lap of qualifying for race two on Saturday morning. The T.C. Kline Racing crew is getting plenty of practice in chassis and body repair since Pobst's exuberant racing style has tested them a number of times in the previous events. With some quick, creative work, the team was able to put the Honda on the grid for "Mr. Excitement". He made the effort worth their while with a great start, and a lead that was never challenged after the first lap. At the finish Pobst was seven seconds ahead of PacWest's David Donohue. He stated that "I owed it to the guys...they worked hard for me. The Honda has great speed, and I'm getting used to the handling. There is still more in the car, and we are going to find it." Commenting on his "stumbles" in the last few events, Pobst quoted the fictitious NASCAR driver Cole Trickle from "Days of Thunder": "Loose is Fast", but admitted that he needed to heed his team's advice to be a bit more conservative until the tires came in.
David Donohue led the chase for Pobst in his Dodge Stratus but could make no impression and finished second. The fight for third, fourth and fifth was a fan pleaser. After the first lap the contest was between Dobson in his Dodge, Forrest Granlund in the H.A.R.T. Honda Accord, and Peter Hardman in the second T.C. Kline Racing Honda. The three were nose to tail for lap after lap with Dobson leading. Hardman made numerous attempts at passing Dobson but was rebuffed repeatedly, as was Granlund in his attempts to get by Hardman. On lap fifteen, Hardman tried Dobson again into the Festival Curves on the outside. He got by momentarily, but was carrying too much speed and went off briefly, allowing Dobson to retake the position. Granlund took advantage and moved past Hardman as well. On the next lap Granlund was able to take Dobson for third. The order remained to the checkered flag.
Fifteen minutes following the checkered flag, race two took the green. Dobson had pole position in his Dodge Stratus with Hardman in second and Pobst on the second row. Pobst was still hooked up after the first race, and got a tremendous start. He passed Dobson before the end of the first lap, and was followed by Hardman, and Granlund for a Honda parade at the front. Dobson, now in fourth was being shadowed by Jeff Andretti in the Leitzinger Racing Ford. On lap four, Andretti timed his move perfectly and got by. On lap seven, he pushed a bit too hard in the improving Ford, and had a brief off track excursion. Both Dobson and Donohue got past Andretti, with Donohue getting around his teammate to take fourth.
The race for second and third between Hardman and Granlund was close and entertaining. The quick Hondas were closely matched, and Hardman had to watch his mirrors as Granlund was looking for any opportunity, and made several attempts. Hardman was able to defend his position, and at the checkered flag it was Pobst, Hardman, and Granlund in a Honda 1-2-3.
So far in this inaugural season of North American Super Touring, the Dodges have won three races, the Hondas two, and BMW has one. The points race is now very close in all categories, and the next back to back races will take to the streets of Toronto in front of the cameras of ABC Wide World of Sports.
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