Planet Earth Captures First Win At UnitedAuto Sport 250 Max Q Takes Grand Sport II Victory PHOENIX (April 20, 2002) -- Planet Earth Motorsports captured its first Grand-Am Cup Street Stock Series victory at the UnitedAuto Sport 250 on Phoenix ...
Planet Earth Captures First Win At UnitedAuto Sport 250
Max Q Takes Grand Sport II Victory
PHOENIX (April 20, 2002) -- Planet Earth Motorsports captured its first Grand-Am Cup Street Stock Series victory at the UnitedAuto Sport 250 on Phoenix International Raceway's 1.51-mile road course today. Joe Nonnamaker started the #43 Planet Earth Corvette in the seventh position and handed over the controls to Shane Lewis during an early caution. Taking over at about the half hour mark, Lewis took another half hour to move his way into second place and begin tracking down the leading #11 Powell Motorsports Corvette.
The #11 Corvette's lead was down to around eight seconds when Devon Powell brought it into the pits for fuel, tires and a driver change to Doug Goad. That was all Lewis needed to take over the lead and when Goad brought the Powell entry back on track he was in third place behind Lewis and the #76 Doncaster Racing Porsche of Scott Maxwell and David Empringham.
Lewis brought the Planet Earth car into the pits during a full course yellow about 10 minutes later. He took on fuel and tires, but was still able to get back out in front to lead the field when the track went back to the green flag.
Goad quickly moved the #11 Corvette into second place and with about an hour to go, was sitting 2.7 seconds behind the leader. Goad stayed with Lewis for the remainder of the race, with Lewis pulling out some breathing room near the end and finishing with a seven-second lead. The #76 Doncaster Porsche finished third.
Shane Lewis' ironman performance took its toll. ""I needed ice! I said throw me some ice," he remarked after the race. "I didn't really anticipate it was going to be this hot. I didn't anticipate being in the car this long."
Lewis also said that a mechanical problem during the race might have actually helped out. "I got really into a rhythm and believe it or not we had an oil pressure problem. We had a little bit of a miss in the car, and actually I kind of used the miss to my advantage because I could just go to power early and if I didn't have any tire slippage it actually worked well for us."
The GS II win was much less predictable. Alejandro Lince and Don Istook drove their #04 Istook/Aines Motorsport Group Audi S4 from the class pole to the class lead and kept it there until the closing laps of the race. With just six minutes left in the three-hour race, Istook brought the car in for a splash of gas, but that was all Nick Longhi needed to put the #53 Max Q Motorsports Mustang Cobra R in front for that most crucial drive past the waving checkered flag.
With its stop for fuel, the Audi crossed the flag 15-seconds behind the leading Mustang. It also had another Mustang in its mirrors, as the #47 TF Racing Mustang Saleen SR of Gary Smith and John Kohler were just another second back in third at the flag.
Istook was disappointed, but realistic about the hard loss. "We ran out of fuel. The engine was bucking and dying. We coasted into the pits," he explained in victory lane. "We had to stop. There wasn't any two ways about it, so we thought... what could we have done different? You know, tried to short shift and such, but this car's just pretty thirsty."
The Grand-Am Cup Street Stock Series will next compete the Sports Car Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International, June 21-23. Tickets are available online at www.theglen.com. Additional information about the Grand-Am Cup Street Stock Series can be found online at www.grandamcup.com.