SCC: Homestead: Series round two preview

PLUMB, BACARDI LEAD CONTINENTAL TIRE SPORTS CAR CHALLENGE TO SATURDAY'S HOMESTEAD 200 AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY Aschenbach, Thilenius Seek Second Straight Win For Defending Race Winner Compass360 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 3, 2010) - Gianluis...

Aschenbach, Thilenius Seek Second Straight Win For Defending Race Winner Compass360

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 3, 2010) - Gianluis Bacardi proved he could run up front in his first professional race in January at Daytona International Speedway, driving into the top three en route to winning the season-opening Fresh From Florida 200 for the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.

The now 20-year-old Bacardi and co-driver Matt Plumb head to Bacardi's home track, Homestead-Miami Speedway, for Saturday's second round of the season, the Homestead 200, with a three-point lead (35-32), momentum and a shot at their second consecutive victory. Bacardi was born and raised in Miami and has lived there most of his life.

Bacardi and Plumb's No. 13 BMW M3 is one of 37 Grand Sport (GS) cars that will attempt to win the two-and-a-half hour race at the 2.3-mile, 11-turn road course. The Homestead 200 (SPEED, at 1 p.m. ET March 13) will also feature 36 Street Tuner (ST) cars.

Plumb led the Fresh From Florida 200 twice for nine laps and made a late pass on Charles Espenlaub, who drove Fall-Line Motorsports' No. 48 BMW M3 to second with Charles Putman, to win by 0.107 seconds, the second closest finish in series history. Espenlaub and Putman are second in points.

Now, Bacardi and Plumb will look for two straight.

"I'm happy that this is the follow up race, because I feel most comfortable here, and I've done more training here than all the tracks we will visit," Bacardi said. "Plus, sleeping at home will help in my comfort level."

Bacardi is not alone. Several other drivers call south Florida home, including Terry Borcheller, who finished sixth in the Fresh From Florida 200 with Andrew Hendricks in the No. 45 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3. Borcheller now lives in Vero Beach.

Other south Florida natives or residents include Guy Cosmo (West Palm Beach) in the No. 83 Porsche 997, Barry Ellis (Fort Lauderdale) in the No. 88 Ranger Sports Racing Porsche 997, Michael Wheeler (Miami) in the No. 89 Ranger Sports Racing Porsche 997 and Gunnar Jeannette (formerly of West Palm Beach, now in Sandy, Utah) in the No. 16 Bayshore Recycling/Ford Racing Ford Mustang Boss 302R.

Reigning GS race co-winner Billy Johnson has moved to the No. 61 Roush Performance Products Ford Mustang GT, and will attempt to defend his victory with Jack Roush Jr. Last year's runner-up, the No. 41 TRG Porsche 997, is also entered with Spencer Pumpelly and Ted Ballou.

Tom Nastasi and Ian James, who co-drove to victory in the 2007 GS race, are also entered in the No. 5 Borla Dodge Challenger.

Entered and rounding out the top five in points are Bret Seafuse and James Gue in the No. 37 Trumansburg ShurSave Ford Mustang GT and Jeff Bucknum and Matt Bell in the No. 6 Stevenson Automotive Group/Sunoco Camaro.

Lawson Aschenbach and David Thilenius won ST honors in the Fresh From Florida 200 in the No. 74 Skunk2/HPD Honda Civic Si, and Compass360 Racing won last year's race at Homestead-Miami Speedway by 0.129 seconds, the third closest finish in series history.

Aschenbach, who currently lives in West Palm Beach, Fla., has four victories in 11 career Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge starts. He and Thilenius hold a three-point advantage (35-32) in the standings.

"Going two-for-two to start the season would be a great feeling and I believe we have a car capable to do just that," Aschenbach said. "We are going to have some serious competition and I think many of the other teams will take a big step forward for the second race of the season, so we definitely have our work cut out for us."

Second in the points are Seth Thomas and rookie Bill Heumann, who moved over to the series this season with the two-car BimmerWorld/GearWrench team. Thomas and Heumann are entered in the No. 81 Performance Friction/RAYS Engineering BMW 328i.

Other top-five drivers in the ST points standings entered are Ryan Eversley and Zach Lutz in another Compass360 car, the No. 75 Skunk2/J.C. Concrete Honda Civic Si, and Andrew Carbonell and Rhett O'Doski in Freedom Autosport's No. 26 Aventura Technologies/PFC Mazda MX-5.

Carbonell is another south Florida native, having grown up in Miami. He currently attends Florida International University about 20 miles from the track, where he worked with the operations crew.

"It's my home track, but not only that, I worked there, so I know the place pretty well," Carbonell said. "Whenever I go, I have family and friends there cheering me on, but the track crew guys are also rooting for me, and it's nice to have all of those fans."

In addition to Aschenbach and Carbonell, other drivers in ST from south Florida include three i-MOTO Racing drivers: Jose Armengol (Miami Lakes) in the No. 30 Mondial Forwarding Mazda RX-8, Pierre Kleinubing (Coconut Creek) in the No. 31 Cybernation MAZDASPEED3 and Glenn Bocchino in the No. 32 Cybernation MAZDASPEED3; Classic BMW Motorsports drivers Kayla Graham (Lighthouse Point) and Andre Serra (Boca Raton) in the No. 85 BMW Z4; and APR Motorsport pilots Josh Hurley (Cooper City) and Dr. Kevin Stadtlander (Miami) in the No. 181 APR/BBS Volkswagen GTI.

Practice begins at 8:40 a.m. ET Friday, with qualifying at 4:35 p.m. The two-and-a-half hour Homestead 200 begins at 1:05 p.m. ET Saturday.

-source: grand-am

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Guy Cosmo , Ian James , Terry Borcheller , Lawson Aschenbach , Gunnar Jeannette , Pierre Kleinubing , James Gue , Tom Nastasi , Jeff Bucknum , Charles Espenlaub , Spencer Pumpelly , Ryan Eversley , Glenn Bocchino , David Thilenius , Matt Plumb , Seth Thomas , Billy Johnson , Charles Putman , Ted Ballou , Andrew Carbonell , Matthew Bell , Josh Hurley , Andrew Hendricks , Kevin Stadtlander , Kayla Graham , Andre Serra , Michael Wheeler , Gian Bacardi , Jack Roush Jr. , Zach Lutz
Teams Compass360 Racing , Freedom Autosport , Fall-Line Motorsports