James and Nastasi Bring New Mustang Home To Victory in Debut Race at Grand-Am Cup 200 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 4, 2005) -- In the 2005 Grand-Am Cup Series season-opening Grand-Am Cup 200, co-drivers Ian James and Tom Nastasi drove the No. 5...
James and Nastasi Bring New Mustang Home To Victory in Debut Race at Grand-Am Cup 200
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 4, 2005) -- In the 2005 Grand-Am Cup Series season-opening Grand-Am Cup 200, co-drivers Ian James and Tom Nastasi drove the No. 5 Blackforest Motorsports Ford Mustang GT to victory at Daytona International Speedway. It was the debut race for the 2005 Ford Mustang GT, and was the first Grand-Am Cup Series overall victory for a Mustang of any generation.
James started third on the grid and led five laps during his stint before handing the car over to Nastasi for the second half of the race. The team elected to forego changing tires on its final pit stop, which proved to make the difference in the race. Nastasi claimed the lead for the final time on Lap 44 and led the final 14 circuits en route to his first career Grand-Am Cup Series victory.
"I got the car second and they decided not to change tires," Nastasi said. "As a driver, you're never happy about that. We went out and it was hard but the car was really phenomenal. I ran out of gas right after the start/finish line. One more lap and that would have been it. We got the car two days ago and we had no time with it. Multimatic Motorsports prepped it for us -- they thought the race was one more lap."
For James, it was the second overall Grand-Am Cup Series triumph of his career, and his first since an SGS class triumph at Phoenix in 2001. With the performance, James now has at least one class victory in every year of Grand-Am Cup Series competition. It was his fifth career Grand-Am Cup class victory.
"It's outstanding to come out to Daytona and win," said James. "Like Tom briefly mentioned, we only got the car a few days ago. These guys at Multimatic got it together. I think everyone can see how level a playing field Grand-Am Cup is. This just shows you how even the cars are. It's great to win."
Nastasi and James led a 1-2 sweep for the new Mustang, as David Empringham and Scott Maxwell came home second in the No. 55 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang in an eventful race. On the second lap, Empringham rocketed past Justin Marks in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 and into the lead in the chicane at the end of the Daytona Superstretch.
While Marks kept the pressure on throughout the early running, the No. 55 machine appeared to have the upper hand on the BMW and the rest of the field. All of that changed, however, on Lap 12 when the car lost its hood as it moved onto the back straightaway. Empringham managed to keep the car in the lead, and a well-timed full-course caution for another incident at almost the same time allowed Empringham to maintain the lead for the moment.
Shortly thereafter, Empringham brought the car onto pit road and handed over the controls to co-driver Maxwell, who found his way back to the lead on Lap 33. However, Maxwell's final pit stop of the day on Lap 43 proved to be the difference in the race, and the No. 55 machine finished second 4.471 seconds in arrears.
"I have no idea how they hood flew off - I thought we had it locked down," Empringham said. "I was just glad it didn't stay on and it just flew off. It didn't really have any effect on our race except it might have cost us some time in the pits."
"The hood came off and that could have lost us the race because a caution came out after it happened, and we decided it was a good time to pit and make sure everything was okay," Maxwell said. "David had to make a second stop and that cost us some time in the pits. Other than that, it was uneventful. I want to thank Multimatic and Blackforest for making dream cars. A one-two finish is great."
Rob Finlay and Michael McDowell rounded out the Grand Sport (GS) class podium, finishing third in class and overall in the No. 60 Finlay Motorsports BMW M3. Jep Thornton and David Russell came home fourth in the No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW M3, followed by BGB Motorsports co-drivers Mark Plummer and Guy Cosmo in the No. 38 Porsche 996.
Daniel Colembie and David Tuaty took the victory in the Sport Touring (ST) class co-driving the No. 12 TC Kline Racing BMW Z4. However, the team and drivers were stripped of all points and prize money following technical inspection as the car's fuel tank exceeded the maximum size allowed.
Eric Curran and Bob Endicott came home second in ST co-driving the No. 27 Bill Fenton Motorsports Acura RSX-S, followed by Tim Pappas and Steve Pfeffer in the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW 330i. David Haskell and Sylvain Tremblay finished fourth in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8, and Don Salama, Will Turner and Matt Connolly came home fifth in the ST class driving the No. 22 CSL Racing BMW 330ci.
The Grand-Am Cup 200 will be televised on a tape-delayed basis on Saturday, March 5 at 11:00 a.m. on SPEED Channel. Next up is a stand-alone GS event, which will also be the series' first-ever visit to Latin America, as the GS cars head to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.