Richmond, CA - The fourth round of the United States Touring Car Championship (USTCC) was at the picturesque track of Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Taking his second straight victory and third of the 2001 season was James Sofronas in...
Richmond, CA - The fourth round of the United States Touring Car Championship (USTCC) was at the picturesque track of Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Taking his second straight victory and third of the 2001 season was James Sofronas in the SSF/Global Motorsports Group BMW 328i, narrowly beating Gary Sheehan's Subaru of America WRX.
Several key aspects of Road America would play an overall role in the outcome of the race. Throughout the weekend, David Lang's Miracle Auto Painting Honda Prelude would not let him rev past 6500 RPMs. He was forced to short-shift on the long straights of Road America. Sheehan's WRX was also having engine problems, not being able to develop enough horsepower. Jeff Lepper driving Tom Pitre's H&R Springs/Phase 2 Solutions Honda Civic also had a problem; he was too fast. On the long straight he was hitting the Civic's speed-limiter at 125 mph. Both Lang and Lepper, not having the means available to adapt a new computer in their cars, were forced to try to make up for it on other parts of the track.
In first round qualifying it was Sofronas' BMW pacing the field with a new entry, Patrick Dunbar's Midwest Motorsport BMW 325i, in second. Third was David Lang's Prelude.
Round two qualifying produced a little bit of a different result, with everyone gaining speed. Sheehan's crew had worked furiously throughout the night to get the WRX's problems resolved, finally getting it up to speed and moved into the number three spot. At the end of second round qualifying the field was set. Sofronas' BMW 328i was on the pole, Dunbar's BMW 325i in second, Sheehan's WRX in third, Lang and Lepper completed the top five, with Jeff "Kiwi" Owen in his KMAC Suspension Honda Integra Type R in sixth. Moving into the seventh spot was Ali Arsham Advanced Clutch Technology/Gogogear.com Honda Civic. Completing the field was Richard Woo's Gogogear.com Acura Integra.
Sunday's race started with a land rush start in turn one. Everyone made it through okay with Sheehan's WRX getting a jump on the field. Right behind him was Sofronas' and Dunbar's BMWs. Getting a great start was Arsham's Civic moving into the fifth spot. Up front Sheehan and Sofronas continued to fight for the lead, swapping back and forth numerous times. A little further back, Lepper's Civic was running fourth with Arsham's Civic on his bumper. The order stayed the same until 7 laps into the race when going into turn nine, Lepper lost control and was fighting to save it. His Civic got sideways into the gravel trap and flipped over twice. He was okay, but was unable to continue.
At the finish line, it was Sofronas' BMW 328i, finally pulling away from Sheehan's WRX which lost its breaks at the end. Completing the top five were Dunbar's BMW 328i in third, Lang's Prelude in fourth, and Arsham's Civic in the fifth spot. The teams will now travel to Portland, Oregon for Round 5 on September 15th and 16th.