Rosser and Collins Give Nissan 350Z First Grand-Am Cup Win in Mid-Ohio 250 LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 8, 2004) -- Driving a car that wasn't even supposed to race this weekend, Blake Rosser and Kelly Collins combined to give the Nissan 350Z its...
Rosser and Collins Give Nissan 350Z First Grand-Am Cup Win in Mid-Ohio 250
LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 8, 2004) -- Driving a car that wasn't even supposed to race this weekend, Blake Rosser and Kelly Collins combined to give the Nissan 350Z its first major road racing win in the Grand-Am Cup Series Mid-Ohio 250 (SPEED Channel, August 15, Noon ET).
The win was the first professional racing triumph for Rosser and gave road racing stalwart Collins yet another career achievement in playing a key role in the milestone victory for Nissan's latest version of the venerable "Z" sports car.
The No. 13 Unitech Nissan 350Z that Rosser and Collins drove to victory first turned a wheel in Thursday's test sessions at Mid-Ohio when Collins and teammate Stu Hayner put the Nissan through its initial shakedown runs. Rosser and Collins had planned on running the more seasoned No. 23 Nissan 350Z in the race, but assorted mechanical issues coupled with the No. 13 car's impressive performance out of the box led the team to change directions.
"We had a situation with some of the pistons in the No. 23," Rosser said. "We brought out the No. 13 car to just kind of test it and it went pretty well in testing, so they said, 'why don't you go ahead and drive that.'"
Ironically, Rosser qualified the No. 13 in the 13th position, which suited the Nevada-based driver just fine.
"Thirteen is actually my favorite number, so I wasn't worried about the No. 13 on the car," he said.
Rosser drove the opening stint and survived an early and unintentional tap-and-spin in the Mid-Ohio Carousel from his Unitech teammate, Mike Cronin Jr. in the No. 33 Nissan 350Z. Rosser continued after dropping out of the top-10, but kept the car in contention before handing it over to Collins, who took over the lead from Cronin when the No. 33 pitted for the final time on Lap 67.
"We tried to get rid of the No. 13 as unlucky," Collins said. "The Unitech team made that car so good. They are top notch. We're happy."
Finishing second, just 0.425 seconds in arrears, was the No. 52 Rehagen Racing Ford Mustang Cobra SVT of Ken McAlpine, Larry Rehagen and Dean Martin, who drove the final stint and chased the winning car to the finish line. Martin was part of the team that earned a second place result with the same car at Homestead earlier this year. After leading 15 laps, Cronin and Hayner brought the No. 33 home in third place.
The No. 11 Powell Motorsport Cadillac CTS-V led a race-high 40 laps in the first half, with Devon Powell and John Heinricy handling the lion's share of the driving duties. However, Terry Borcheller also gained valuable points when he drove the No. 11 for the final 10 minutes and the threesome wound up in sixth place.
The No. 19 Race Prep Motorsports Porsche 996 also led 10 laps with Spencer Pumpelly at the wheel, but dropped from contention after contact with the No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW M3 of David Russell.
In the Sport Touring (ST) class, Sylvain Tremblay and David Haskell scored their second win of the season driving the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8. It was a typically competitive ST race, with several BMWs and Acuras in the mix throughout.
Tremblay held off a last-lap challenge from the No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW 330i of Don Salama, which spent the closing stages of the race right on the rear bumper of the No. 70. Salama and co-driver Will Turner wound up second in class, with the No. 27 Bill Fenton Motorsports Acura RSX-S in the hands of Bob Endicott and Eric Curran in third.
"David did a great job of qualifying and drove the opening stint very smart," Tremblay said. "He got through traffic and kept all of the fenders on the car. We were watching the fuel mileage and the yellows helped us a whole bunch. Unfortunately, a lot of our competitors were in the same boat, so we were right at the edge. David gave me a great car and I just had to do what I had to do at the end. I'm very happy to get our second win for Mazda and the RX-8."
The Mid-Ohio 250 airs on SPEED Channel Sunday, August 15 beginning at Noon Eastern Time. The Grand-Am Cup Series returns to action for Round 7 of the 10-race 2004 schedule at Homestead-Miami Speedway on the weekend of September 10-12.