Jonsson and Krohn Take Grand-Am Cup Victory in Thrilling Barber Park 200 BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 30, 2005) -- It's been said that in racing, the most important lap to lead is the last one. No. 69 Krohn Racing/TRG Porsche 996 driver Nic Jonsson...
Jonsson and Krohn Take Grand-Am Cup Victory in Thrilling Barber Park 200
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 30, 2005) -- It's been said that in racing, the most important lap to lead is the last one. No. 69 Krohn Racing/TRG Porsche 996 driver Nic Jonsson took those words to heart in Saturday's Grand-Am Cup Series Barber Park 200, as the Swede capped an eventful race by charging past race-leading David Murry on the final lap and held off Murry's last-ditch efforts in the No. 13 Unitech Racing Nissan 350Z to score a hard-earned victory for himself and his No. 69 co-driver Tracy Krohn.
After Krohn started 14th on the grid, the No. 69 teammates managed to avoid the pitfalls that removed many other would-be contenders from a race that was slowed by seven full-course caution flags for a total of 32 laps. On the 72nd and final lap, Jonsson closed to the rear bumper of Murry's Nissan and timed his move perfectly on the run down the straightaway heading into Turn 5 and swept past on the inside of the turn. Despite sliding off-line on a few occasions in the remaining 11 turns, Jonsson had just enough to beat Murry to the stripe by 0.718 seconds.
"(Murry) was very strong," Jonsson said. "He came in sideways coming off at Turn 2, and that gave me the opportunity to get around close and bump draft going into the braking zone. I don't think I could have gotten by him if he didn't get sideways. It was very clean, I really appreciate his driving. He doesn't block, and he is very fair. That was the cleanest pass on the raceway. He picked his line, and that was it."
For Krohn and Jonsson, the victory was their first-ever in Grand-Am Cup competition. The triumph comes on the heels of their first career Rolex Sports Car Series win in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen in July, a race in which Jonsson also made a decisive late-race pass. The Barber Park 200 victory was not only the first of the season for Krohn and Jonsson, but it was also the duo's first podium finish of the season as well.
"A month and half ago, I used to think this car was scary," Krohn said. "We got is sorted out and it's done very well this season. We were about to give up on the car and junk it. We took it completely apart. We had a throttle problem with the fuel pump that was ridiculous. It made it very hard to control. The car was unpredictable, but they've put a lot of work in to it. I told him we had to win today."
Murry--who led 12 laps in the race--wound up second alongside his No. 13 co-driver, Blake Rosser. It was the best result of the year for Murry and Rosser, topping a previous-best result of fifth in the Mosport 200 last month. It was Murry's best finish in Grand-Am Cup competition since he and then-co-driver Craig Stanton won at Barber Motorsports Park last October and was Rosser's best result since he and Kelly Collins gave the Nissan 350Z its first win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last August.
Despite starting from the rear of the Grand Sport (GS) class after missing qualifying due to a crash during the morning practice session, No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 co-drivers Justin Marks and Bill Auberlen salvaged a third-place result. In fact, Marks tied the race-high by leading for 17 laps but lost track position through pit stops.
GS points leader David Empringham--who started from the pole position--and co-driver Scott Maxwell had a wild afternoon in the No. 05 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT. Empringham led the first 17 laps in the race prior to his first pit stop, when Maxwell took over the controls.
Late in the race, Maxwell was involved in an incident with the No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW M3 David Russell and the No. 35 Schuitemaker Motorsports Nissan 350Z, but managed to escape serious damage to finish fourth. The fourth-place finish allowed Empringham to maintain the lead in the GS driver standings. He now leads Marks and Maxwell, who are tied for second place, by 35 points, 205-170, after seven of 11 races.
After starting second, Spencer Pumpelly also led for eight laps in the No. 18 Race Prep Motorsports Porsche 996 during his opening stint in the race. However, the No. 18 was removed from contention for the victory when co-driver Mike Pickett spun shortly taking over the controls. The No. 18 duo wound up 21st in class. Pumpelly later drove the No. 28 Race Prep Motorsports Porsche 996 alongside co-driver Tim Gaffney and went on to finish fifth in that car.
Elsewhere, Wayne Nonnamaker tied Marks and Empringham by leading 17 laps aboard the No. 40 Team Sahlen Porsche 996. Nonnamaker lost several positions, however, when he and No. 60 Finlay Motorsports BMW M3 driver Michael McDowell got together while racing for the lead on Lap 61. Nonnamaker and his co-driver and father, Joe Nonnamaker were credited with 14th place in the GS class.
TREMBLAY TIES GRAND-AM CUP SERIES RECORD WITH 18TH CAREER CLASS VICTORY
In Sport Touring (ST) action, No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 driver Sylvain Tremblay tied the Grand-Am Cup Series record for most career class victories by taking his 18th class triumph in the Barber Park 200 by passing Tom Milner in the No. 64 Matt Connolly Motorsports BMW 330ci on the final lap. Tremblay, the defending ST co-champion, has made a habit of taking last-minute victories, as he and co-driver David Haskell also won the ST class in last October's race at Barber Motorsports Park with a last-lap pass.
"The yellows were hurting us because I couldn't make up anytime during them," Tremblay said. "The No. 64 BMW really pitted early and was running out of gas. They weren't running the lap times. I knew I would get them, but I didn't know where. Fortunately, I was able to surprise them in the inside. We raced really clean, and I was able to pull away. David is the one that put us in the position to do that. He qualified on the pole and came in to the pits third. It was a team effort, I have to play my part, but I can't do what I do with out everyone doing their part before. It's such a great team sport."
It was a banner day for the No. 70 team, as Haskell placed the Mazda RX-8 on the pole position in qualifying and led the early stages of the race. The victory allowed Haskell to take over the top spot in the ST driver standings, as he now leads Tremblay by two points, 167-165, with six of 10 races now in the books.
"We had quite a race out there," Haskell said. "It was awesome. I tried to get around the No. 27 Acura, and I just couldn't make it. (Hugh Plumb) and I and Will Turner were having a blast switching positions. It was great racing those guys. You didn't have to worry about them hitting you, everybody gives enough room. We didn't have a scratch on our car -- that's what I'm proud of. There was a lot of carnage out there. We just need to polish it up and get ready for next weekend at Trois-Rivieres."
Milner and co-driver Matt Connolly took second place, crossing the finish line less than a second behind the race-winning No. 70 machine. Hugh Plumb and Bob Endicott finished third in the No. 27 Bill Fenton Motorsports Acura RSX-S, followed by Will Turner and Don Salama in the No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW 330i. Matt Connolly Motorsports wound up with two cars in the top five, as Jim Briody and Mike Halpin brought the team's No. 39 BMW 330ci home in fifth.
The Barber Park 200 will be televised by SPEED Channel on Saturday, August 6 at 1:30 p.m. ET. Next up for the Grand-Am Cup Series is the Trois-Rivieres 150 in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada on August 5-7.