TPC Racing victorious at Miami 250. MIAMI, Fla. (April 13, 2003) -- Tight racing, lots of traffic and plenty of cautions were the order of the day at the Grand-Am Cup Miami 250 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. But when the checkered flag flew at ...
TPC Racing victorious at Miami 250.
MIAMI, Fla. (April 13, 2003) -- Tight racing, lots of traffic and plenty of cautions were the order of the day at the Grand-Am Cup Miami 250 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. But when the checkered flag flew at the conclusion of the 105-lap race, it was Randy Pobst and Michael Levitas celebrating in Victory Circle.
Levitas started the race at the wheel of the TPC Racing #18 Porsche GT3 Cup, but turned it over to Pobst after only 18 laps when the second caution of the race came out. Once behind the wheel of the #18 Porsche, Pobst quickly began to work his way up to the front of the field.
Although Pobst took the lead several times, he would never stay up front for very long before he was coming back into the pits. However, extra pit stops were the team's winning strategy.
"We wanted fresh Hoosiers on every pit stop, which meant we had to make a lot more pit stops. I think our advantage was in the handling. We had the best handling car in the race," explained Pobst, who dropped as low as 10th during one of his pit stops, but always managed to work his way back to the front of the field with ease.
"The pit stop strategy was amazing. I think everyone involved did a great job and everything went perfect," added Levitas.
The #79 Porsche of Foxhill Racing started in the pole position and held the lead for the first half of the race before fierce competition from Pobst and several other Porsche drivers slipped the car further back in the field. With only five laps left in the race, the #79 Porsche clipped the wall and was forced to sit out the final laps with suspension damage.
The Case-It Racing #84 Porsche and points-leading Doncaster Racing #119 Porsche stayed in the top 10, but it was not until the final hour of racing that the two had a big push toward the front. Adam Merzon handed over the #84 Porsche to David Murry, who took it to a second-place finish, while Robert Julien and Jean-Francois Dumoulin finished third in the #119 machine.
The Michael Baughman Racing #45 Firebird started the day at the front of the Grand Sport II class and stayed there for a quarter of the race until its transmission let go, resulting in the car's retirement. That opened the door for a fierce battle between a pair of Mustangs for the remainder of the 250-mile race.
The TF Racing/Max Q #53 Mustang Cobra SVT and Frederick Motorsports #30 Mustang Cobra R exchanged the lead in the GS II class several times. The two had been running nose-to-tail for several laps with the #53 car in front when, with only 12 laps remaining, the #53 Mustang's engine let go as it raced down the front stretch. Large puffs of smoke engulfed the car as it slowly rolled to a stop, allowing the #30 machine to cruise by for the lead and eventual win.
"We were buying our time, planning on putting on the big push late in the race, and they blew up. We were trying to keep the pressure on him, so I don't know if that had something to do with his motor letting go or not," said Jeff Lapcevich who celebrated with his co-driver David Brown in Victory Circle.
The #46 Firebird of Michael Baughman Racing took second-place honors in the class, while the Automatic Racing #09 BMW M3 finished third in the GS II class.
The Sport Touring I class was a battle of Lexus vs. Acura during the Miami 250. The Honda of America Racing Team (HART) #00 Acura RSX-S started the day at the front of the class, but was immediately pressured by the #0 and #2 Lexus IS300 entries of Team Lexus. All three cars held the class lead at some point in the race, but when the checkered flag flew it was Tim Gaffney and Ian James of Team Lexus' #2 entry that was on top.
"They pitted a little better than us, so we fell behind and had to fight our way back to pass them," explained James.
"It was a good battle. I was able to get by them during their pit stop. I think we had an edge in handling," added Gaffney.
Team Lexus made it a 1-2 sweep in the class with the #0 IS300 finishing in second after passing the #00 Acura with only four laps remaining in the race.
Bill Fenton Motorsports was in a battle against itself for the Sport Touring II victory as the Miami 250 drew to a close. The team's #29 Acura Integra LS was leading the #27 Acura, but fuel shortage was an issue for both teams.
"It could have been a lose-lose for us instead of a win-win. Both cars were low on fuel and if we had both stayed out there we ran the risk of both running out of fuel. We kind of flipped a coin to see who was going to pit. If we only pitted one of them, we knew at least that one would have a high finish and the other one would have a shot at winning," explained Bob Beede of the #27 Acura.
"I was drafting (the #29) a little bit, so that gave me a slight fuel advantage," added Beede's co-driver Bill Fenton.
The #29 Acura pitted for a splash of fuel with four laps to go in the race, and the team's #27 Acura was able to make its fuel stretch out for the remaining laps to pick up the ST II win. The #29 car held off a late threat from the third-place HRPworld.com #43 Acura to give Bill Fenton Motorsports at 1-2 finish in the class in its first race starting two cars.
"It's great to have them finish 1-2 in the first race," said Fenton.
The Grand-Am Cup Series will travel next to Phoenix International Raceway for the Phoenix Twin 200s, May 1-3. Tickets are currently on sale for the event and can be purchased online at www.phoenixinternationalraceway.com.
Additional information on the Grand-Am Cup Series can be found at www.grandamerican.com.