Martinelli Motorsports Leads Grand-Am Cup at VIR Before Violent Crash ALTON, Va. -- Things were going Jason Martinelli's way at Virginia International Raceway during Saturday's Grand-Am Cup 200, despite the wet conditions and numerous caution...
Martinelli Motorsports Leads Grand-Am Cup at VIR Before Violent Crash
ALTON, Va. -- Things were going Jason Martinelli's way at Virginia International Raceway during Saturday's Grand-Am Cup 200, despite the wet conditions and numerous caution periods that plagued the event. Martinelli took the race lead on lap seven in the No. 14 Martinelli Motorsports BMW M3, but the team's day ended when another car hit him, sending the BMW hard into a tire wall.
Martinelli, who co-drives the Grand Sport class BMW with Jeff McMillin, started the race from tenth. Qualifying was cancelled due to rain, and the starting grid was determined by points.
Tire choice was a critical factor at the start of the race, with no rain but plenty of water left on the track. Martinelli Motorsports made the right choice by putting on rain tires, and at the start Martinelli was able to quickly make his way up to fifth.
When the first full-course caution began on lap seven, Martinelli found himself in the lead. Each race restart was short-lived, with the cautions adding up.
Martinelli got a green flag on the back straight on lap 24 after the third caution, but he only got as far as the braking zone for turn 14 when another car impacted him hard on the driver's side. The Martinelli Motorsports BMW was sent hard into a tire wall, ending the team's race after leading the field for nearly an hour.
The car is salvageable, but the extent of repairs needed will keep Martinelli Motorsports off the track for the next two rounds.
"We could have had at least a top five finish," said Martinelli. "It's a shame, being the leader and getting taken out. I was just trying to keep it in the lead until Jeff got in the car. I wanted to be clean and make sure we got a good finish."
Despite the disappointing end to the day, Martinelli still felt positive about the setup that the team had, which will be an advantage when they return to Virginia International Raceway in October for the season finale. "(Crew Chief) Kent McCray set up a perfectly handling car, as always. We'll get the car back together, go to Beaver Run for testing, and then we'll be back at Lime Rock."