Longhi, Plumb Win Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Finale At Miller, Putman, Espenlaub Win Grand Sport Championship Thilenius, Aschenbach Take ST Crown On Tiebreaker; Baas, Povoledo Win Race SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Sept. 11, 2010) - Nick...
Longhi, Plumb Win Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Finale At
Miller, Putman, Espenlaub Win Grand Sport Championship
Thilenius, Aschenbach Take ST Crown On Tiebreaker; Baas, Povoledo Win Race
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Sept. 11, 2010) - Nick Longhi and Matt Plumb took the checkered flag in Saturday's Salt Lake City 200, the final race of the 2010 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season, while Charles Espenlaub and Charlie Putman took the Grand Sport (GS) championship by virtue of a fifth-place finish.
The Street Tuner (ST) class victory went to Aaron Povoledo and Ian Bass, while Lawson Aschenbach and David Thilenius took the title in a tiebreaker after finishing the campaign tied in the points (274 each) with Seth Thomas and Bill Heumann.
It was the second straight GS triumph for Longhi and Plumb in the No. 13 RumBum.com BMW M3, while Plumb bookended the season with victories after joining Gian Bacardi in winning the opening round at Daytona International Speedway.
Joey Hand passed Plumb to take the lead on Lap 49 of the 64-lap - or two-hour, 30-minute - race, putting him ahead in the championship momentarily. But Plumb regained the top spot and took Billy Johnson with him two laps later. Plumb then led the final 14 circuits to end the title hopes of Hand and Michael Marsal in the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3.
"That was definitely one of the best races I ever had," Plumb said. "Conditions changed so many times. It was a constant battle between Joey and Billy, and we couldn't see a thing into Turn 1. Luckily I had Jeff Segal - who just finished up the GT championship - spotting for me in Turn 1, and he was telling me when to brake because I couldn't see the brake markers. We fought for Mr. Lou Bacardi; we wanted to make him happy."
Johnson finished second, 0.691 seconds back, in the No. 61 Roush Performance Ford Mustang started by Jack Roush Jr.
Scott Maxwell and Joe Foster took fourth in the No. 15 Bayshore Recycling/Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang Boss 302R, followed by Putman and Espenlaub in the No. 48 Sparco/Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 - who won the title by six points (280-274).
"It hasn't sunk in, but this is the neatest thing," Putman said. "We've been working at this for years and years together, and for it to come together is just like a dream."
The ST title chase took a dramatic turn on the second lap of the race when Bill Heumann pitted with a broken differential on the No. 81 Performance Friction/Rays Engineering BMW 328i for BimmerWorld/GearWrench, which entered the race with a 19-point lead in the ST championship. The team took more than 30 minutes to replace the part, with Thomas taking over after Heumann drove a lap to satisfy the 30-minute requirement needed to score points.
Aschenbach fell back to fourth late in the race, but when Andrew Carbonell lost an engine in the No. 26 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5, Compass360 Racing's No. 74 Skunk2/HPD Honda Civic Si started by David Thilenius moved to third, good enough for a one-point lead. Thomas moved up one spot in the final two laps to 20th, giving the two driving pairs 274 points each. But Aschenbach's third-place finish proved to be the tiebreaker for the title; both teams entered the race with two victories and two runner-up finishes apiece.
"My team was on the radio with me every lap telling me what to do," Aschenbach said. "The clutch was making a knocking noise. But we pushed hard and continued to fight. Things needed to fall our way, and they did."
Thilenius admitted he didn't come to Salt Lake City thinking of giving Compass360 its second consecutive title.
"I came here and knew we were so far back in the points I didn't even think of the scenarios," Thilenius said. "It's a real shame for the BimmerWorld guys, because they've had a fantastic season, but the Compass360 team pushed and pushed all season."
Baas and Povoledo took the first victory of the year for APR Motorsport in the No. 91 APR/BBS Volkswagen GTI.
"APR nailed it today," said Povoledo, who earned the pole position Saturday morning. "We got the absolute maximum out of it. It was a perfect day and a perfect race."
Owen Trinkler and Sarah Cattaneo finished second in ST, ending Trinkler's two-race winning streak in the No. 198 RSR/Cruise America Mini Cooper S.
Also in the top five were Zach Lutz and Ryan Eversley, fourth in the No. 75 Compass360 Racing/Skunk2 Honda Civic Si, and Pierre Kleinubing and Taylor Hacquard in the No. 32 i-MOTO MAZDASPEED3.