Lewis and Schmitt Give Honda of America Racing Team Victory in Miami ST 400k HOMESTEAD, Fla. (April 15, 2007) -- Shane Lewis and John Schmitt gave the Honda of America Racing Team (HART) its second Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series victory in ...
Lewis and Schmitt Give Honda of America Racing Team Victory in Miami ST 400k
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (April 15, 2007) -- Shane Lewis and John Schmitt gave the Honda of America Racing Team (HART) its second Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series victory in Sunday's Miami ST 400k at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Driving the No. 22 Honda/Red Line Oil Honda Accord, Lewis led twice for a race-high total of 24 laps, and claimed the lead for good from Trevor Hopwood in the No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW 330i in Turn 8 with 11 laps remaining. Lewis pulled away over the remaining laps and went on to win by 10.669 seconds. It was Lewis' third career KONI Challenge Series class victory, but his first since the 2002 season finale at Daytona International Speedway.
"This was due to the hard work of everybody in Ohio," Lewis said. "The Honda of America Racing Team just worked with me all weekend long. I can't thank John Schmitt enough. He handed me the best car. He knew he had to take care of the brakes and his job was to keep it in the top 10. He did exactly what we asked of him and he just did an awesome job. I couldn't have done it without the car he handed me. All the guys worked so hard all weekend. We made them make more changes than you could imagine, and they never quit. That's what it takes to win here."
Post-race technical inspection revealed the No. 22 Accord had an improper ballast position, and series officials deducted five points for the infraction in addition to a $1,000 fine. Nevertheless, the team and drivers retain credit for the victory. It was the second KONI Challenge Series class victory for Schmitt, who claimed his first class win in the 2006 season-opener at Daytona.
"The team has worked for the past six weeks on this new car, nonstop," Schmitt said. "We've been putting in 30 or 40 hours a week after our normal jobs. It really worked out well. The car hit the track and we had very few problems. We've made some improvements in setup, we've brought back some of our retired members and got some extra input on setup there. With Shane working with us, we really put in a lot of time changing and finding the best combination. We could get it setup to where it would make one fast lap or two, and then the tires were gone. We worked on getting a consistent setup. We knew we were going to have a little drop-off, but we worked on getting it more consistent and not such a big drop-off. Maybe it was not as fast ultimately, but more consistent. I think that's the biggest thing I saw this weekend that made a difference."
In just their second career KONI Challenge Series start, Hopwood and co-driver Adam Burrows earned their first podium result with a second-place run in the No. 95 BMW. Burrows started from second on the grid and drove the opening stint of the race before turning the car over to Hopwood, who had to make an extra pit stop to resolve an issue with the car's scoring transponder. Hopwood dropped back as far as 21st in the field but fought his way back to the front and led five laps.
"The race was great," Hopwood said. "I've got to thank the Turner Motorsport crew for giving me such a good car all weekend. Adam did a great job in the first stint. It was exciting racing Shane Lewis at the end. I've always looked up to him. We raced each other clean and it was a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to Iowa."
"I would certainly be the first to say that I would have never imagined that we'd be standing in the second spot on the podium this early in the season," added Burrows. "This is a new series and new car for both Trevor and myself, but we're thrilled. Certainly, it's a testament to the awesome job that Turner does. Those cars are prepared so well and their strategy is spot-on. I can't say enough about the drive that Trevor had in the second part of the race. We had a little challenge with the transponder and getting it to connect properly, and he had to come in and pit. He drove a great race coming back from 21st all the way to second."
Bill Fenton and Bob Beede--who led four laps--completed the podium with a third-place run aboard the No. 29 Bill Fenton Motorsports Acura RSX-S. Finishing fourth were Karl Thomson and Billy Johnson in the No. 76 Kensai Racing Acura TSX. Thomson and Johnson opened the year with a class victory in the Fresh From Florida 200 at Daytona, and their fourth-place result in Homestead enabled them to retain the ST points lead by seven points, 63-56, over Hopwood and Burrows. Jose Armengol and Dan Allen completed the top five in the No. 69 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8.