Shane Lewis Takes Two Top-10s at VIR; Earns Highest MINI Cooper Finish ALTON, Vir., October 3, 2004 -- Shane Lewis added two more top-10 finishes to his impressive resume this weekend at the Grand American Road Racing Association...
Shane Lewis Takes Two Top-10s at VIR; Earns Highest MINI Cooper Finish
ALTON, Vir., October 3, 2004 -- Shane Lewis added two more top-10 finishes to his impressive resume this weekend at the Grand American Road Racing Association stop at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). In today's Rolex Series VIR 400 presented by SunTrust, the Jupiter, Fla.-resident drove the No. 7 PAP Parts/ AutoAssets.com Southard Motorsports' BMW FABCAR to ninth. After starting 14th, the top-ten finish matched the car's highest Daytona Prototype finish of 2004. On Saturday, he led the No. 20 MINI Cooper S to fifth in ST class in the Grand-Am Cup race here.
In today's Rolex Series event, the Southard Motorsports crew made a daring call to gain track position passing-up one caution period in hopes of one later. The hoped-for caution did not occur within the fuel window forcing Lewis to pit under green-flag conditions. Returning to the track having fallen a lap to his nearest competitor, Lewis brought the Southard Motorsports' BMW home without further adventure, earning the team their third top-ten of 2004.
Lewis again made history in the Grand-Am Cup Series earning the MINI Cooper S its highest-ever finish in a professional North American race series. Driving the No. 20 Nuzzo Motorsports entry in the ST class of the three-hour Grand-Am Cup VIR 250 here at VIR, Lewis would bring home the Tony Nuzzo-owned car fifth in class, 18th overall. The BMW-manufactured car, which Lewis started in fifth, ran in the class lead for much of the afternoon but fell to second and then third with pit stops. A late race driver change forced the car to fifth. Because of the late driver swap, the first of the race, driver/ owner Nuzzo was not able to make up the positions lost during the stop.
The day was not without its mechanical difficulties. A left-front shock canister, which is used to keep the proper pressure in the shock absorber, broke away from the wheel well leaving the No. 20 with essentially no left front suspension on the 17-turn facility. Lewis drove a remarkable race turning times competitive with the leaders and working his way into the top-position despite the dead left-front suspension. The result was not unusual for Lewis, who is viewed as one of the top development racers in the world. Since first driving the Nuzzo Motorsports MINI, Lewis has given the car its first track record (here a year-ago), pole position, led its first race (both at Homestead-Miami Speedway earlier this season) and now given the popular car its first top-five finish.
(about the VIR 400): "We finished one which is really awesome. The race went well. Vic [Rice, co-driver] started and did a good job. We made a risky pit call not coming in on one of the full course yellows and then we had to pit under green and that hurt us. We ducked into pit lane just before another full course yellow. The tires didn't want to come back but that was the gamble we took. Then it started raining the last couple of laps but the guys behind me were a couple of laps back and our car couldn't run the lap times with the guys in front of me. So, I ran our pace and brought it home. This was an important accomplishment for the Southard crew."
(about the VIR Grand-Am Cup 250): "We held the lead in the MINI for awhile and we were working really hard for the podium. We wanted that podium. The left-front shock canister broke-off early in the race so I basically didn't have any left front suspension all race. We held third until we found out we were going to have to come in and change drivers at the very end. That hurt us because of how late we found out we were going to have to do the switch. The reason we weren't going to put Tony in was because of the shock. It was tough to figure out how to make the car fast with only three working corners. I had gotten it figured out and was getting the most out of it. Tony did everything he could and did a great job holding us in fifth. But, once we stopped, the podium was no longer going to happen. Tony didn't have the time to chase two positions down. VIR is a great track and a terrific place for the MINI. We set the track record here last year and were fast all of this week. If we could have kept that canister on the car and known a little earlier about the driver change requirement, who knows what might have happened?"
For more on Shane Lewis please see www.shanelewis.com. To learn more about Southard Motorsports, please visit www.pap-parts.com or www.autoassets.com. To check out the Nuzzo MINI Cooper, please visit www.nuzzomotorsports.com .