Grand-Am Cup Twin 250s offer fans a little of everything. PHOENIX (April 10, 2002) -- When the Grand-Am Cup Street Stock Series travels to Phoenix International Raceway next week, it will offer race fans and car enthusiasts a little of...
Grand-Am Cup Twin 250s offer fans a little of everything.
PHOENIX (April 10, 2002) -- When the Grand-Am Cup Street Stock Series travels to Phoenix International Raceway next week, it will offer race fans and car enthusiasts a little of everything. Whether a fan of high horsepower Corvettes or sporty new Acura Integras, Friday's UnitedAuto Touring 250 and Saturday's UnitedAuto Sport 250 will provide exciting racing action for everyone.
The Grand-Am Cup racing excitement will kickoff on Friday, April 19 with the UnitedAuto Touring 250, featuring the Sport Touring I and II classes. The field of small-to-midsize sedans and sports coupes will race into the sunset and to night, featuring some of the most popular cars from Acura, BMW, Lexus and Audi, as well as Ford, Hyundai and Mazda.
The Sport Touring I class will provide some of the closest racing of the weekend, with the top-eight teams in the class separated by only eight points in the latest point standings. Lexus currently leads the class with its #3 Team Lexus IS300 of Tim Gaffney and Jean-Francois Dumoulin. Lexus' newest sport compact made its series debut in Phoenix last year and the trio of factory-backed entries hopes to pick up its first win of the season on the one-year anniversary.
However, a strong contingent of BMW Z3s will pose a major threat in the class. "A tight track like Phoenix seems to favor our car," admits Bransen Patch, driver of the #36 BMW Z3 of Villaconn International. "Throughout last season and this season, we have learned the capabilities of each manufacturer's car in their braking and horsepower. So you know where you strengths and weaknesses are."
Villaconn International will field three BMWs in UnitedAuto Touring 250. Patch and co-driver Don Salama have piloted their #36 Z3 to within one point of the leading Lexus team, while their teammates in the #34 entry are only five points behind the leader. Team Spartanburg should also be a top contender after winning Daytona in its #72 BMW Z3.
"The Lexus team had a new car to develop last year, and towards the end of the season they made it competitive. That has definitely carried over to this season. The BMW teams are getting their small problems worked out and are also much more competitive," notes 2001 driver champion Bob Endicott. Fresh off a win in Fontana, Endicott will lead the Acura charge in his #64 King Motorsports Acura Integra R, while third-place Power Racing Team, the highest ranked Acura team, hopes to edge their way into the lead with their #77 Integra R.
"You cannot count out the SpeedSource Porsche Boxsters either. They have some great drivers in those cars this year," Endicott added.
While Lexus, BMW and Acura teams are the current leaders in the Sport Touring I class, SpeedSource is one of the teams racing Porsche Boxsters and Hyundai Tiburons that are on the bumpers of the leaders in search of their first win of the season.
Also racing in Friday night's UnitedAuto Touring 250 will be the smaller compacts of the Sport Touring II class. After capturing the first two wins of the season in the class, Bill Fenton's #27 Acura Integra LS is the favorite, but the Nonnamaker brothers continue to make ground in their #41 HRPworld.com Integra LS and could take their first win of the year in Phoenix.
However, Acura teams will not be the only ones fighting for the ST II win in Phoenix. Several teams fielding Mazda Miatas proved their strength during the Fontana race. The Acuras will also have to contend with teams entering a Mazda Protégé and a Ford Focus.
For those fans craving more horsepower, Saturday afternoon's UnitedAuto Sport 250 will appeal to their taste for speed. Grand-Am Cup's Grand Sport I and II class will run in the 250-mile race, featuring high-end sports, GT and muscle cars.
A favorite the GS I class for the overall victory will be defending champions Powell Motorsports with their pair of Corvette Z06s, but they will face fierce competition from several Porsche GT3 teams. Doncaster Racing's #76 Porsche sits second in the points after its season-opening win in Daytona, while SpeedSource's pair of Porsches continue to post strong finishes in search of their first victory of the season. Fans will also spot a Saleen Mustang SR mixing it up with the Corvettes and Porsches.
The Grand Sport II class is also led by American iron, with Shreiner Racing's #30 Mustang Cobra R leading the point standings. However several powerful import teams are primed to move out front, including the second-ranked #63 SpeedSource Porsche 911 and the Fontana race winner, #54 Bell Motorsports BMW M3.
Tickets for Friday night's UnitedAuto Touring 250 and Saturday afternoon's UnitedAuto Sport 250 at Phoenix International Raceway, as well as the Rolex Sports Car Series UnitedAuto 200 presented by azcentral.com, are available online at www.phoenixinternationalraceway.com or by calling 602-252-2227. Additional information about the Grand-Am Cup Street Stock Series can be found online at www.grandamcup.com.