Birmingham: Race report

Bell Motorsports Grabs Barber 250 at The Park Win On Final Lap BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (May 18, 2003) -- Terry Borcheller made the thousands of fans on hand for the inaugural Barber 250 at The Park a race to remember with his pass for the lead on the...

Bell Motorsports Grabs Barber 250 at The Park Win On Final Lap

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (May 18, 2003) -- Terry Borcheller made the thousands of fans on hand for the inaugural Barber 250 at The Park a race to remember with his pass for the lead on the final lap that gave Bell Motorsports its first win with the team's #54 Chevy-powered Doran JE4 Daytona Prototype. Borcheller had trailed more than a minute behind the leading #59 Porsche-engined FABCAR of Brumos Racing, but two late-race cautions gave Borcheller the opportunities he needed to bring home the victory.

Borcheller caught his first break when the Ferrari of Washington #33 Ferrari 360 GT, which suffered electrical woes throughout the race, stalled just off course, bringing out the yellow with only 10 minutes remaining in the race. Although the #54 Chevy Daytona Prototype had been running four to six seconds a lap quicker than the #59 Brumos car, he could not have made up France's lead of more a minute without the caution to bunch up the frontrunners.

As the yellow flag came out, an anxious Borcheller became a little too aggressive going into turn one, getting into IYC/SL Motorsports #06 Corvette and sending it into the gravel trap. "I made a mistake. I got a little impatient. I knew I didn't have a lot of time, and I was trying to really push. I definitely was impatient," admitted Borcheller. "I'm glad I didn't get stuck. I kept the car running, and got fortunate enough that one of the cars I hit got stuck in the gravel, which pulled out the yellow and really gave me a great chance."

The #06 Corvette going in the gravel trap immediately brought back out the yellow flags again, and allowed Borcheller to get one final shot at France in the leading Porsche Daytona Prototype. When the green flag fell again only two laps remained in the race. Borcheller spent the first lap working his way through lapped traffic and putting the Mosler Automotive #31 Mosler MT900R, which had been running in second place, behind him.

After taking the white flag, Borcheller stepped up his assault on France, who was doing everything in his power to block the #54 Chevy, but he fell short of his goal only three turns away from the checkered flag. "I knew when Borcheller got behind me I had to make the car wide, so I kind of got off the line trying to keep them behind me. We got side-by-side and collected each other in the corner. I got a little sideways and tried to get back under him, but (Mike) Borkowski was fighting with him and I didn't get another shot at him," explained France, who ended up bringing the #59 Porsche Daytona Prototype home in second place overall.

"It seems like its been a long time coming, but it's only our fourth race in the car. The team has been working really hard. We had some mechanical difficulties and we had some personnel injured in the pits, but thank God that they came back and are here today and helping us. This win's for them really. It's a beautiful track and a great series that was as competitive today as it has been at every race," remarked Borcheller's co-driver Forest Barber, who put the car back in the running after sliding off track into a tire wall earlier in the race.

The Red Bull #58 Porsche Daytona Prototype captured third-place honors in the class after the team was once again struck by bad luck while in the lead. David Donohue had led for much of the first half of the race before pitting to put Mike Borkowski behind the wheel of Brumos' #58 machine. Borkowski had just passed France for the lead on lap 80 when he lost the right front wheel, allowing the #59 Porsche to retake the lead and erase any hopes of the Red Bull car finally picking up its first victory.

The #31 Mosler MT900 R took the GTS lead shortly after the green flag and lead the class for the entire race. Justin Bell had the Mosler in second place overall and less than 10 seconds behind the leading #59 Porsche Daytona Prototype in the closing laps, but he could not contend for the win due to tire trouble.

"We had as close of a shot at the overall win as you could ever have. We had actually picked up a flat right tire, so the tire was going down and I couldn't challenge under braking. It's a pity though, because the car was fantastic. The crew did a brilliant job and the strategy was perfect," said Bell, who teamed with GTS points leader Joao Barbosa for the first time in the Mosler.

The Jack Lewis Enterprises #72 Porsche finished second in the class, while the ICY/SL Racing #06 Corvette took third.

In the GT class, Marcus Motorsports celebrated its first victory. Brian Cunningham put the #69 BMW M3 at the front of the class on the opening lap and had the #69 machine running as high as second place overall. Hugh Plumb relieved Cunningham behind the wheel of the BMW and brought it home for the team's first GT win.

"I just want to congratulate Steve Marcus and these Marcus Motorsports guys. They have been waiting to do this for a long time. They were looking to get some momentum going and I think we did just that. We just went out and did what we had to do," said Plumb.

Local favorites John Lewis and Grady Willingham brought home second-place honors in the GT in the #205 Porsche of Orbit Racing, while the team's #44 Porsche finished third.

The Barber 250 at The Park will be aired on SPEED Channel on May 24 at 1 p.m. ET.

The Rolex Sports Car Series will return to action at California Speedway on June 6-8 the in Grand American 400. Tickets are currently on sale for the event and can be purchased online at www.californiaspeedway.com. For more information on the Rolex Sports Car Series, visit www.grandamerican.com.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Justin Bell , Terry Borcheller , David Donohue , Joao Barbosa , Hugh Plumb , Mike Borkowski , Jack Lewis , Grady Willingham , John Lewis