Nastasi Takes KONI Challenge Grand Sport Points Lead into Round 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 11, 2007) -- On the heels of his victory in the 2007 Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series season-opening Fresh From Florida 200...
Nastasi Takes KONI Challenge Grand Sport Points Lead into Round 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 11, 2007) -- On the heels of his victory in the 2007 Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series season-opening Fresh From Florida 200 at Daytona International Speedway, car owner/driver Tom Nastasi will lead a field of 45 Grand Sport (GS) class race cars to Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend for Sunday's Miami GS 400k.
Nastasi co-drove the No. 5 USG Sheetrock/Ramset Tools Ford Mustang GT to the Daytona victory with 2005 GS champion David Empringham, but with Empringham not scheduled to compete this weekend, Nastasi effectively holds sole possession of first place in the GS driver standings. Nastasi also earned a Rolex Series GT class victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2004 and is slated to share the No. 5 machine--which is prepared by Florida-based Blackforest Motorsports--with Ian James. He is also entered in the team's No. 4 USG Sheetrock/Ramset Tools Mustang GT alongside Canadian female racer Valerie Limoges. A third Blackforest Mustang, the No. 6 USG Sheetrock/Ramset Tools machine, will be shared by Chris Brannon and Stan Wilson.
Nastasi and Empringham held off a hard-charging No. 55 Supercuts/Hyper Sport Ford Mustang GT in the hands of Joe Foster and Scott Maxwell to take the Daytona win, and Foster and Maxwell head to South Florida looking for a bit of revenge this weekend. Maxwell and Foster lead a three-car entry for Hyper Sport, with Romeo Kapudija entered in the No. 54 Supercuts Mustang with an as-yet-unnamed co-driver and Charles Espenlaub will share the No. 156 Supercuts Mustang with Grey's Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey, who will make his first KONI Challenge Series appearance of the season. Dempsey missed the season-opener with the impeding birth of twin sons.
Bill Auberlen--who recorded his first Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Daytona Prototype victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway last month with co-driver Matthew Alhadeff--returns in search of another South Florida victory, this time in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 he is sharing with Chris Gleason. Auberlen and Gleason finished third in the Daytona opener, and are joined on the two-car Turner team by 2006 Street Tuner (ST) class champions Will Turner and Don Salama. Turner and Salama will share the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3.
Miami's Jeff Segal and Winter Park, Fla. resident Jep Thornton head down to Homestead following a fifth-place finish in Daytona and will share the No. 09 Fresh From Florida/Automatic Racing BMW M3. The Orlando-based team will bring a total of four cars to Homestead-Miami Speedway, and each car will carry at least one driver who makes his home in the Sunshine State. In addition to Segal and Thornton, Orlando's Jon Miller will share the No. 90 BMW M3 with Owen Trinkler of Nashville, Tenn., Sebring's Peter Argetsinger is in the No. 91 M3 with Tim George Jr. of Greenwich, Conn. and Winter Park's David Russell will co-drive the No. 99 Fresh >From Florida/Automatic Racing BMW M3 with Raleigh, N.C. resident Tom Long.
Other Floridians in the field include Edgewater's Craig Conway in the No. 9 Spirit of Daytona Racing Pontiac GTO alongside Michigan-based co-driver Doug Goad, Stuart resident Mike Weinberg in the No. 10 Spirit of Daytona Racing Pontiac GTO with co-driver Larry Oberto from Seattle, Wash., Sebring resident Tanner Baker in the No. 44 ASC Motorsports Porsche 996 with Ohio's Zach Arnold, George Corso, who hails from Pembroke Pines, and North Miami's Edward Huerta in the No. 50 Eastern Competition Promotorsports Nissan 350Z, Placida-resident Mike Canney in the No. 60 Horsepower Ranch Porsche 996 with Phoenix, Ariz. resident Spencer Sharp, and Fort Lauderdale's Barry Ellis in the No. 88 LNS Motorsports Porsche 996 with Canadian Fraser Wellon.
The talented field will also include 2004 GS champion Craig Stanton in the No. 38 Performance Drink/BGB Motorsports Porsche 997 with a co-driver yet-to-be-named, 1984 Olympic downhill skiing medalists Phil and Steve Mahre in the No. 17 Team Centurion Ford Mustang GT, Jack Roush Jr. and Dean Martin in the No. 59 Roush Performance Products/Piloti Ford Mustang GT for Rehagen Racing, 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona GT winner Spencer Pumpelly and co-driver John Mayes in the No. 49 Marcus Motorsports Porsche 997, and a three-car entry from two-time Rolex Series GT team champions TRG. Andy Lally, the 2006 Rolex Series GT co-champion, will share the No. 41 TRG Porsche 997 with Ted Ballou, while John Bibbo and Scott Schroeder will co-drive the team's No. 40 Porsche 997 and Duncan Ende and Grant Maiman will compete in the No. 39 TRG Porsche 997.
The GS race caps a Sunday doubleheader of racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be preceded by Round 2 of the KONI Challenge Series ST class, the Miami ST 400k, with a 37-car field and points co-leaders Karl Thomson and Billy Johnson leading the way.
Thomson and Johnson opened the season with a class victory at Daytona in the No. 76 Kensai Racing Acura TSX. The duo led an Acura sweep of the top-five class positions, with Bob Endicott and Ken Dobson second in the No. 144 Davis Motorsports Acura RSX-S, Nick and Kuno Wittmer third in the No. 32 i-MOTO Racing Acura TSX, David Thilenenius and Todd Lamb fourth in the No. 27 Bill Fenton Motorsports Acura RSX-S and Delray Beach's Glenn Bocchino combining with Roger Foo and Lee Niffenegger to finish fifth in class in the No. 31 i-MOTO Racing Acura TSX. All of the aforementioned drivers save for Kuno Wittmer and Niffenegger have been entered for the Miami ST 400k, and all should rate among the favorites in Homestead.
Other Acuras in the field include the No. 29 Bill Fenton Motorsports RSX-S of Bill Fenton and Bob Beede, Matt Pritko and Daniel Colembie in the No. 74 Kensai Racing RSX-S, Travis Walker and Beau Buisson in the No. 75 Kensai Racing TSX, Anthony Serra and Fort Lauderdale resident Marcelo Abello in the No. 142 Davis Motorsports TSX and Juan and Jorge Leroux in the No. 174 LRT Racing TSX.
Not to be overlooked, however, are several proven race-winners in the ST field. Two-time ST champion and Plantation, Fla. resident David Haskell will share the No. 68 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 with Golden Beach's Scott Schlesinger. The Sunrise, Fla.-based SpeedSource team will also field the No. 69 Mazda RX-8 for Colorado's Dan Allen and Miami Lakes resident Jose Armengol. Another one to watch is multi-time ST winner Jamie Holtom in the No. 01 Scada Pack/Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt with a co-driver to be announced.
Like the GS class, the ST field is also full of Floridians, with a pair of Port Orange residents--Carlos Lira and Squeak Kennedy--sharing the No. 02 Blackforest Motorsports Mazda RX-8; Daytona Beach's Steve Sliwa who is sharing both the No. 73 SDS Performance Racing Dodge SRT4 with North Carolina's Tomas Charvat and the No. 13 SRT4 with Massachusetts' Derrick Reade, Jupiter's Shane Lewis and Ohioan John Schmitt in the No. 22 HART Honda Accord, West Palm Beach resident Kevin Molloy in the No. 48 Team Cobalt California Chevrolet Cobalt with Georgia's Sean Israel, Melbourne's Todd Buras and Miami's Carlos Garcia in the No. 56 BSI Racing Mazda MX-5, Pompano Beach resident Chip Van Vurst and Delray Beach's Andrew Charbonneau in the No. 62 Roar Racing Mazda RX-8 with North Carolina's Rob Whitener III, Lutz's Espenlaub--who will be pulling double duty with two races in the same day--in the No. 63 Roar Racing Mazda RX-8 with South Carolina's Andy Brumbaugh, Cooper City's Andrew Lewis in the No. 113 GSM Motorsports Volkswagen GTI with North Carolina resident Danny Alvis, Port St. Lucie's Mike Smellie and Jupiter Inlet Colony's John Zuccarelli III in the No. 118 Rotary Power Motorsports Mazda RX-8 and West Palm Beach's Guy Cosmo sharing the No. 127 Fountain Motorsports BMW 330i with Miami's David Tuaty.
Both the GS and ST events are scheduled for 109 laps (250.7 miles/400 kilometers) around the 2.3-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway road course, and both races are subject to a two-and-a-half hour time limit. Live coverage, including audio webcasts of both races and Timing & Scoring data from all sessions, will be available on the official web site of Grand-Am, www.grand-am.com.