SCC: VIR II: ST race notes

Matt and Hugh Plumb Win VIR Finale to Give Acura ST Title Turner Team Caps Perfect Year with Dual GS and ST Team and Driver Titles ALTON, Virginia (October 8, 2006) -- A championship battle to the finish between the No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW...

Matt and Hugh Plumb Win VIR Finale to Give Acura ST Title
Turner Team Caps Perfect Year with Dual GS and ST Team and Driver Titles

ALTON, Virginia (October 8, 2006) -- A championship battle to the finish between the No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW 330i of Will Turner and Don Salama and the No. 27 Bill Fenton Motorsports Acura RSX of brothers Hugh and Matt Plumb stole the spotlight in the Bill Black Chevrolet Street Tuner Six-Hour Enduro at VIRginia International Raceway Sunday as the Acura drivers won the race but the second-place finishing BMW teammates sealed both the Grand-Am Cup Series ST driver and team championships.

The victory was the second of the season for the Plumb brothers after winning at Barber Motorsports Park in July and their success helped Acura clinch its fifth Grand-Am Cup ST manufacturer championship in the last six years. Matt Plumb crossed the finish line 6.255 seconds ahead of Turner in the No. 97 BMW and the winners averaged 81.529 mph in the six-hour race. The No. 68 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 of Ken Dobson and Scott Schlessinger finished third.

While the Acura team celebrated the VIR victory, they came up just short in trying to beat Turner BMW and its drivers for the ST driver and team championships. After a rare mechanical failure sidelined the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 of former series champion Sylvain Tremblay on the opening lap, the championships and ultimately the race came down to a two-team battle between the Turner BMW and the Fenton Acura outfits.

Salama led the opening lap of the race, Matt Plumb led the final lap and for the six hours in between the two teams were rarely separated on the race track. Each of the four drivers led at various points and in one nearly three-hour stretch between laps 46 and 109, the No. 95 BMW and the No. 27 Acura ran first and second, with each taking a turn up front. Matt Plumb took the lead for good when he passed Dobson for the lead with just under 45 minutes remaining, but when Turner also passed the Mazda 15 minutes before the finish for second place, any slim chance of the Plumbs taking the title were gone. Turner and Salama clinched the title with 285 points, eight points ahead of the Plumb brothers.

"I think, going into the race, we just had to think about winning the race, and whatever happened to the Turner guys would just happen," Hugh Plumb said. "We were just staying out of trouble, taking care of the car, and not really hoping for their bad luck, but that's really what it was going to take. They did a good job."

The unprecedented Grand-Am Cup Championship sweep -- Turner Motorsport is the first team to win dual GS and ST driver and team championships in a season -- avenged some disappointing championship losses for the Turner team in the last couple of years. The same eight point spread that clinched the driver championship was also the winning margin in the team title battle.

"For the past two seasons, we have come into the final race leading the team championships," team owner and driver Will Turner said. "Unfortunately, for the past two seasons, we've come up short. It is great to finally claim the ST driver and team titles, but even more fitting to also win the GS championships this season as well. It's a huge weight off our shoulders. I have to thank our teams and everyone that has gotten us here."

"This was three years in the making," Salama said. "We've been knocking on the title for the past two seasons. Not only did we win the ST championships, but I think we are the first team to win both titles in the same year. The Turner team is fantastic -- the best in the country right now."

The Fenton team's pair of victories played a big part in yet another Acura manufacturer championship, but other teams also assisted in the winning effort. The No. 144 Davis Motorsports Acura RSX was driven to victory at Phoenix by Mike Galati and Bob Endicott and in total Acura never placed a race car lower than fourth in any race all season. Acura's winning point total of 317 was 14 points ahead of second-place finisher BMW.

Mazda did not win a race this year, but it looked possible today when the No. 68 machine of Dobson and Schlessinger moved into contention. Dobson led four laps late in the race and he and Schlessinger held on for a season's best finish in third.

The No. 75 Kensai Racing Acura RSX of Travis Walker, Karl Thomson and Nick Wittmer finished fourth while the No. 173 Theetge Motorsport Acura TSX of Benoit Theetge and Kenny Wilden rounded out the top five. Theetge and Wilden combined to lead six laps in their Acura, and they were among a group of 12 drivers in nine different race cars to set the pace in the six-hour race. The winners were the lap leaders with the Plumb brothers combining to lead a race-high 76 laps.

The Grand-Am Cup Series Awards Celebration will be held at The Orlando World Center Marriott in Florida on Thursday, December 14. Please contact Grand American Road Racing at (386) 947-6681 for information.

-credit: garra

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Sylvain Tremblay , Ken Dobson , Will Turner , Don Salama , Hugh Plumb , Bill Fenton , Bob Endicott , Benoit Theetge , Matt Plumb , Karl Thomson , Travis Walker , Nick Wittmer
Teams Turner Motorsport , SpeedSource