Rosser, Murry Survive Wet and Wild VIR 200 ALTON, Va. (April 22, 2006) -- In a race marred by five caution periods and sporadic rainfall, No. 33 Playboy Racing Nissan 350Z co-drivers Blake Rosser and David Murry outlasted the field of 83 cars...
Rosser, Murry Survive Wet and Wild VIR 200
ALTON, Va. (April 22, 2006) -- In a race marred by five caution periods and sporadic rainfall, No. 33 Playboy Racing Nissan 350Z co-drivers Blake Rosser and David Murry outlasted the field of 83 cars to claim victory in Saturday's VIR 200, Round 2 of the 2006 Grand-Am Cup Series.
Despite being the third machine to take the checkered flag in the 200-mile event, outstanding penalties on the No. 4 and No. 5 Blackforest Motorsports Ford Mustangs--stemming from earlier incidents--allowed Playboy Racing to clinch its first Grand-Am Cup Series victory in just the team's second start.
"The team made a great call to bring Blake in with about an hour to go and put dry tires on, even though it was pretty wet," Murry said. "We knew the weather was clearing up and it was going to dry up. The yellows were long. We put drys on and went back out and every time I'd come by they'd say, 'you're 28th now, you're 24th, you're 19th,' so we picked up a lot of spots just because of the pit strategy. Once we got out and ran the race at the end, it was a really aggressive, hard race. We just ended up coming out on top. I'm pretty happy with that. We just had to be patient. I knew this race was going to reward patience."
Murry took control of the machine during a caution period and ran near the front of the pack throughout the remainder of the race to log his fifth-career Grand-Am Cup Series win. As qualifying for the race was washed out by pestering showers earlier in the day--and the starting grid was set by team points--Rosser started the machine from the 35th position, based on the team's 46th-place class finish in the season-opening race at Daytona.
"It was a pretty good job to get a win here," Rosser said. "We had to start so far back because we had a broken axle in Daytona. Based on points, I think we were gridded 35th. To come from 35th to the front is pretty amazing with the conditions what they were. I didn't make it any easier for my teammate, because unfortunately I got on the grass trying to avoid an ST car. It would have been a huge accident on the back straight on a restart. I think I lost about another four spots. We were 40th, but then a few people came in and I stayed out. I think I got back to 25th or 26th, and then we just made the right call to put the tires on. It was definitely luck. I could see the car moving forward. We weren't there on speed, but I think a lot of guys made passes under yellow. I know I got passed quite a bit under yellow. It's great. We deserved the win, because we've done such hard work, so I'm pretty excited. It's awesome for our new sponsors, Playboy and Palms, so I'm pretty excited about it. I didn't really like Virginia because of the rain, but now it's my favorite track."
A series of incidents throughout the race dramatically changed its outcome. On Lap 38, James Gue--in the No. 77 Blackforest Motorsports Ford Mustang--passed the No. 96 Turner Motorsport/Gleason Financial BMW M3, driven by Bill Auberlen, for the overall race lead. Moments later, a stopped car along the front straightaway prompted the race's fifth full-course caution and the field was frozen.
However, David Empringham in the No. 4 Mustang and Patrick Long in the No. 81 Wheel Enhancement/Synergy Racing Porsche 997--who passed Auberlen just after Gue--passed the race-leading No. 77 machine during the caution, incurring "drive through" penalties for their errors. When the race resumed for the seven-lap sprint to the checkers, Empringham elected not to serve his penalty and 45 seconds was added to his final time. The time penalty moved Empringham and co-driver Valerie Limoges to a 10th-place overall finish. Long and co-driver Brent Martini wound up eighth.
The No. 5 Mustang incurred a penalty earlier in the race, when Ian James made avoidable contact with Terry Borcheller in the No. 2 Feeds the Need Racing Mustang GT for Blackforest Motorsports. Like Empringham, James did not serve his penalty before the end of the race, and also had 45 seconds added to the car's time. With the penalty, James and co-driver Tom Nastasi finished 15th.
On a Lap 24 restart, Tony Buffomante in the No. 181 Kaiser Customs/Marcus Motorsports Cadillac CTS-V made contact with then-race leader Jason Martinelli in the No. 14 Martinelli Motorsports BMW M3, sending the No. 14 machine hard into the outside tire barrier, ending its race. As a result of the five caution periods, only 12 of the 49 total laps were completed under green flag conditions.
Spencer Pumpelly and Andy Lally finished third in the No. 49 Porsche of Lexington/TRG Scooters/Cobra Powersports Porsche 997 for Marcus Motorsports. Finishing fourth were Tim Traver and Mikel Miller in the No. 83 Simplenet.com Porsche Carrera for BGB Motorsports, followed by Anders Hainer and Boris Said, who rounded out the top five in the No. 97 Turner Motorsport/Under Armour BMW M3.
With the runner-up finish, Gue moves into the Grand Sport points lead, holding a 13-point advantage over Lally, Pumpelly, Michael McDowell and Rob Finlay. Finlay and McDowell followed up a third-place run at Daytona with a 14th-place overall result at VIR.
HOLTOM & CURRAN CLAIM STREET TUNER CLASS VICTORY
In the ST class, Eric Curran battled numerous cars during the final stretch of the race, but never relinquished the class lead en route the class win alongside co-driver Jamie Holtom in the No. 01 Clearscada/GM Performance Division Chevrolet Cobalt.
Curran took control from Holtom during one of the race's caution periods and was able to avoid major damage for the remainder of the race to claim his fifth-career Grand-Am Cup Series class victory.
"I have to thank Georgian Bay Motorsports and the guys from General Motors," Curran said. "This Chevy Cobalt SS was amazing today. We made the right pit calls, the car was amazing through traffic and just the handling of the Cobalt getting through some of these ups and downs and the bumpy sections of this track, the car just worked well. We shuffled through some traffic and kept our nose clean. It was a survival race. There were obviously a lot of yellows. Again, this Chevy Cobalt SS was great and these guys with Georgian Bay Motorsports do a phenomenal job."
Holtom is also no stranger to the top step of the Grand-Am Cup Series podium, having won twice in 2005 (Mosport and Mid-Ohio). The 18-year-old Canadian started fourth in class, as the duo ran to a fourth-place class run in the opening round at Daytona in January.
"We've got three wins with Georgian Bay Motorsports so far," said Holtom. "It's great. Hopefully we can get some more. The Cobalt is just a dynamite package. It just handles so well that it doesn't matter where we take it. It's fast. Hopefully we can keep that going. I think I actually drove two-and-a-half laps under green; the rest of it was all yellow. Every time the track would go green there would be a yellow flag again. We just had to keep our nose clean, make the right calls in the pits and come out on top."
With the win, Holtom and Curran climb atop the ST class point standings, holding a 13-point edge over No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW 330ci co-drivers Will Turner and Don Salama (63-50), who finished 11th at Virginia.
Finishing second in the No. 39 Piper Motorsport BMW 330i were Jim Briody and Todd Burns, followed by Mike Galati and Bob Endicott in the No. 144 Davis Motorsports Acura RSX-S in the third position. VJ Mirzayan and Jack Mardikian finished fourth in the No. 98 Team Cobalt California Chevrolet Cobalt. Jim Holtom finished fifth the No. 00 Scadapack/GM Performance Division Chevrolet Cobalt with Daniel Colembie.
The Grand-Am Cup Series returns to action for another 200-mile event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the weekend of May 5-7.