BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (May 18, 2003) -- The SpeedSource ...
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (May 18, 2003) -- The SpeedSource #68 Porsche Boxster picked up its first-ever Sport Touring win in the second of the Grand-Am Cup Series Barber Park Twin 200s. Sylvain Tremblay had a hard fought battle with Don Salama in the TC Kline Racing #12 BMW Z4 throughout the final hour of the race in a mix of rainy and dry conditions.
"I can't tell you how many times I tried to get past Sylvain in the Porsche. He was definitely faster in the straight line, but my car was so much better in the corners, so I tried every way, but he was really protecting the line. It was clean racing, so you can't argue about that. I wanted him so bad. I was probably about a half second a lap faster if I had the ability to get by him," said Salama, who took his first podium finish of the season with his co-driver Steve Pfeffer in the #12 BMW Z4.
"Quality driver is what Don really was, as well as TC Kline and that whole program. I raced him clean and gave him the room, knowing that the respect that I was giving was going to be returned. It was a lot of fun side-by-side every corner. We were both sliding, hoping not to touch each other. It was a riot, a lot of fun and a lot of pressure. I seem to do well under those circumstances. The more pressure, the better we perform," added Tremblay, who celebrated the team's first Sport Touring win with co-driver Scott Schlesinger.
The SpeedSource team has enjoyed much success in the Grand-Am Cup Series, taking victories in both the Grand Sport I and Grand Sport II classes, but today was the team's first-ever Sport Touring I victory. "It's just neat that after three years to finally give this to Scott, who's been with the program since the beginning and has really worked hard. He's put his soul and a ton of money into this little Boxster. He loves it dearly. We are just glad that we are able to do this for him and the entire SpeedSource team," said Tremblay, who is also the SpeedSource team owner.
Pit stop strategy was the key for the top teams, as today's race began and ended under rainy conditions but saw some clear skies and dry track conditions during the middle of the race. The third-place #00 Acura RSX was not as lucky with its pit stops. "We kept slicks on during the caution because we thought that the weather was going to hold, and then the guys saw the black clouds moving in and I had to pit right as the track went green," said #00 driver Pete Halsmer, who took the checkered 3.491 seconds behind the winner. "That really put us behind, but the few cautions after that helped put us closer to the front. I was close enough to see some of the battle for the lead, but not close enough to get into it."
Bill Fenton and Bob Beede earned their second Sport Touring II class win of the season in the Bill Fenton Motorsports #27 Acura Integra LS. Fenton put the car out front early in the race and built a strong lead despite the rainy conditions.
"The car worked well in the rain. Anywhere I put it, it worked. The track is superior. There was grip everywhere. The only thing you had to be worried about was the puddling in certain corners, and if you could avoid that, you could really hang in there," said Fenton.
Although Beede had a healthy lead late in the race, several cautions due to cars off track allowed the HRPworld.com #43 Acura Integra LS to close in on the class leaders. "We had a great battle. In the medium run, this car ran great when the line was dry. It had a little bit of a lead there. And then in the rainstorm we started to pick up a little bit of a lead. This car worked fantastic on the Hoosiers in the wet," said Beede. "In the final yellow though, that kind of bunched things back up again. It must have motivated them (the #43 HRPworld.com team) because, boy, they were all over me there at the end. It was a heck of race."
Beede was able to hold off the threat by Wayne Nonnamaker, as the #43 Acura finished second. HRPworld.com driver Howie Liebengood took both second and third place honors in the Sport Touring II class, as he started the race in the second-place #43 Acura and ended it in the third-place #44 Acura, which he shared with Ray Bailey.
The Grand-Am Cup Series will return to action at California Speedway for the Grand-Am Cup 250, June 6-8. This weekend's Barber Park Twin 200s will be broadcast on SPEED Channel on May 31 at 1 p.m. ET.
For more information on the Grand-Am Cup Series, visit www.grandamerican.com.