SCC: VIR race report

Powell Motorsports continues their march towards the Drivers, Team, and Manufacturer Championship as they took their fifth win of the season in the Super Grand Sports class. For Powell Motorsport, it marked their eighteenth win in Cup series ...

Powell Motorsports continues their march towards the Drivers, Team, and Manufacturer Championship as they took their fifth win of the season in the Super Grand Sports class.

For Powell Motorsport, it marked their eighteenth win in Cup series racing in the last four years. In 1998 and 1999, Powell Motorsport captured the Triple Crown (Drivers, Team, and Manufacturer Championship). Last year the team missed out on that feat, but if things continue as they have so far this year, the team will once again accomplish that feat.

Despite it being their fifth win of the season, the Powell Motorsport Sunoco / Encompass Corvette Z06 did not take the win in dominating fashion. The #11 Corvette was challenged all day long by the #15 Steiner/Majestic Porsche TT.

The race had started with Devon Powell on Pole, but Dino Steiner, the starting driver in the #15 car took care of that right away, passing the Sunoco #11 car into the first turn. It took a while but young Devon Powell got by to take the lead, and held it until the # 11's first pit stop made under caution when Powell stayed in the car and took on fuel and two tires. The Porsche took on just one tire and fuel.

"When I got back out the #15 car was in the lead and when I closed on him he just waved me by. I didn't think anything of it at the time because our pit said the #15 car was 2 laps down, but that turned out to be incorrect, it was because of a timing malfunction," said driver Devon Powell after the race, " but I guess that the Porsche was on a "conserve the tires" strategy because there was no doubt that on fresh tires the Porsche was very hard to beat"

"I was trying as hard as I could," said Doug Goad "and when I passed the Porsche to get back in the lead with about 30 minutes to go , John (Powell) came over the radio and told me to settle down and take it easy!" The reply from Goad to Team leader John Powell was short and to the point: "No way I can - I'll talk later!" Goad continued the battle running qualifying times in an effort to stay ahead. "Ian James was racing the #15 Porsche very well. Driving hard, clean, and very, very fast down the straightaway. I was doing all I could to stay in front, trying to put some pins (lapped cars) between us. That's because if he stayed as close he was, he was going to get by me. That Porsche is wickedly quick and James was doing one heck of a job driving it"

For James, he did all he could to take it too Goad. "It was a great finish to the race," said James. "I tried to do all I could to get around Goad, but in the end I didn't have any tires left to challenge him."

There was no doubt that the Motorsports Technology Twin Turbo Porsche was the main competition, although the Saleen Zippo Mustang hung in on the same lap and moved briefly into the lead at the mid point of the race.

The TFRacing crew entered two Saleen SRs into the race. The first casualty in the TFRacing pits was the #44 DURA Racing Zippo Saleen. The Saleen found the tire wall in the high speed esses. Despite forty cars barreling down on the Saleen SR, everyone managed to miss the car as it was sitting in the middle of the racing tarmac.

The #47 Zippo Saleen SR was running in third for much of the race, but was running very hot in the drivers compartment. Starting driver John Kohler required medical attention when he got out of the car. Gary Smith took over for Kohler, and drove the car to a third place finish. After the race, Smith also required medical attention for the extreme heat. Thankfully both drivers are okay.

Fourth place in the race was the Speedsource Porsche 911 driven by Selby Wellman and Paul Mears Jr. DeFontes and co-driver David Brown brought the #44 DURA Racing Saleen home to fifth.

In Grand Sports, Speedsource came out on top of a Porsche duel that saw Sylvain Tremblay and Jean-Francois Dumoilin battle until the last lap. The entire weekend saw the David Haskell - Sylvain Tremblay driven Mears Motor Coach/Champion Porsche/Fikse/ Dynamic Suspension Porsche sit atop the time charts in both the practice sessions and in qualifying as Haskell took the pole.

When race time came around though, the Grand Sports class was led by the #73 Hebert/Theetge Motorsport Acura NSX. The team had suffered through a tough weekend that saw them have to change an engine on practice day. Qualifying saw them miss the pole by just four tenths of a second, but when race time came, the NSX drove to the lead and held it all the way until lap 50 when it pulled off course on the front straight, smoking heavily.

This now made the race a two car battle between the #70 Speedsource Porsche and the #19 Sunoco Denon Porsche. Sylvain Tremblay (who drove the aforementioned NSX to two wins last year) was at the wheel of the #70 Porsche while Jean- Francois Dumoilin held the reins of the #19 Fiorano Racing Porsche.

Both drivers are very accomplished, and the crowd was treated to a thrilling battle over the last fifteen laps as Tremblay and Dumoilin battled for the win. With just ten laps remaining, Tremblay sat just six tenths of a second behind Dumoilin. It wasn't until four laps to go that Tremblay finally got past Dumoilin.

"I owe this win to David [Haskell]," said an enthused but tired Tremblay. "He has set this car up great, and he does a perfect job driving, handing me a perfect car. I got a puncture in turn one early in the race. Then I got the stop-and-go penalty for passing under the yellow. But the crew just kept telling me over the radio to keep with it."

Dumoilin captured second with his co-driver Robert Julien. In third place was the #46 Snipes Ford Motorsport driven by Peter Sachs and Chuck Snipes.

Porsche now holds a commanding lead in the Manufacturer Championship. Speedsource holds the lead in the Driver's (Haskell) and Team Championship.

In Sports Touring, the Lexus IS300 took its first professional win after showing impressive speed at Mosport. The win came at the hands of team owner Chuck Goldsborough and sports car ace Terry Borcheller. It was the first win for the Lexus IS300 in North America. Team Lexus also gave the Lexus marquee its first worldwide win in professional racing in 1999 at Road Atlanta.

The strongest challenge for the Lexus IS300 came from the polesitting #34 Chambersburg Waste Paper Villaconn International BMW Z3 Coupe being driven by Californians, 19 year old Jonathan Bomarito and team regular Jeff Trask. The Z3 Coupe was within a second of the winning Lexus late in the race, but ended up falling back to the #2 Lexus when it began to slow on the straight-a-ways.

For Jason Potter, his move from to the Team Lexus effort midway through the season paid off as he placed third on the podium with Andy Lally as his co-driver. The third place vaulted Potter up to the points lead once again this season.

"We knew the IS 300 was going to be a winner before we even took it out on a track," said Goldsborough, a long-time sports-car racer from Baltimore, Md. "The car has a great blend of quickness and balance that makes it perfect in this type of series. I knew we were going to challenge for wins and poles by the first 4-5 races, and that's exactly how it played out."

Speedsource had another strong showing in the Sports Touring class as they scored a fourth and fifth place finish in their Porsche Boxsters. Scott Schlesinger and Rob May shared the #68 Mears Motor Coach Boxster for fourth place while Mark Underwood and David Tauty shared the #67 ESR Graphics/Makes & Models/Underwood Group Boxster for a fifth place finish.

Starting from pole position, the #43 Orangefield Citrus Acura Integra GS-R from the USFilter Planet Earth Motorsports stable had opened up a twenty second lead over the remainder of the field. That is when the team was struck with bad luck as the #43 Integra caught fire on the twenty fourth lap. "We were running right where we wanted to be," said starting driver Wayne Nonnamaker. "The car was running great, and we were hoping for a full green race as we had opened up a substantial lead on the rest of the class. We don't know what caught fire yet. With a race next weekend, we will have a busy week getting two Integras ready for Road America."

The yellow flag condition for the fire allowed the #69 Honda of America Racing Team (HART) to pit and replace starting driver, 2000 C2K Champion Bryan Johnson, with sports car ace Pete Halsmer. The #42 Orison Planet Earth Motorsports Acura Integra also pitted and replaced 20-year-old starting driver Gator Mitchell with 1999 Touring Champion, Will Nonnamaker.

Over the next hour of the race, Nonnamaker gave chase to Halsmer, and the two never ran more than fifteen seconds apart. As Nonnamaker and Halsmer fought their way through traffic, the #69 Civic developed a vibration, and Halsmer was stranded on course on lap fifty five with a broken halfshaft.

This left Nonnamaker with a lap lead over second place, and he brought home the Integra to the win. "I am extremely happy about the win," said an elated Nonnamaker. "Gator [Mitchell] did everything we asked of him today, and he got his first professional win in only his sixth race, ever... professional or amateur. It is really too bad that the #69 Civic broke. I was looking forward to getting to race Halsmer to the end of the three hour race."

The #69 Honda Civic was classified with a fifth place finish.

Bryan Johnson performed double duty on the hot summer day at Virginia International Raceway as he not only started the #69 Honda Civic, but also finished the #92 Honda Civic for starting driver Kevin Adams. Johnson held up well throughout the entire race, and brought home the #92 Civic to a second place finish.

QRC Motorsports ran the entire 2000 C2K season with their #91 KLOUT Honda Civic without scoring a podium finish. For 2001, they were absent from the C2K field until the Virginia race. At Virginia, they scored their first ever professional podium as Jeffery Kiel and Brian Quinette brought the car home to a third place finish.

Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin hosts round eight of the Grand Am Cup, at the Road America 500, July 6- 8, 2001.</s>

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Pete Halsmer , Peter Sachs , Will Nonnamaker , Dino Steiner , Ian James , Devon Powell , Doug Goad , David Haskell , Andy Lally , Terry Borcheller , Sylvain Tremblay , Chuck Goldsborough , Robert Julien , Paul Mears Jr. , John Kohler , Gary Smith , David Brown , Jonathan Bomarito , Jason Potter , Chuck Snipes , John Powell
Teams HART