VIR: GM Racing race report

Stevenson Motorsports Wins Second GT Race In A Row Riley-Matthews Third In DP Alton, Va., April 27, 2008 -- Stevenson Motorsports posted their second straight GT class win today in round four of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented...

Stevenson Motorsports Wins Second GT Race In A Row
Riley-Matthews Third In DP

Alton, Va., April 27, 2008 -- Stevenson Motorsports posted their second straight GT class win today in round four of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 run at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). Riley-Matthews were the top finishing Pontiac Daytona Prototype (DP) team coming in third.

Stevenson Motorsports backed up their win just eight days ago in Mexico City with another victory today. Once again strategy separated the North Carolina based team from the field. Andrew Davis started the No. 57 from the outside front row and ran consistently upfront at the beginning of the race. Robin Liddell took over and a late race strategy call to pit for fuel only got the team out of the pits in front. The team showed once again that a balanced Pontiac GXP.R will get excellent tire ware.

"We were on old tires at the end," Liddell said. "Initially I wasn't sure of the call. The car's handling would drop off a little after 10 laps and then it would stay consistent. I was able to hold off the 67 car there at the end to get our second win. As it turns out it was an inspired call. When I had clear track I could run quick times. A couple of lead cars had trouble in traffic and contact. Both Andrew and I were able to run quick times, clean laps and not have any contact."

The Banner Racing team of Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards finished fourth. Collins had to start from last on the grid as a result of a post qualifying car irregularity, ride height too low. Collins came back from last to first in 12 laps. On lap 31 Edwards took over the wheel of the No. 07 Pontiac. Edwards led for most of his stint, until pit stops shuffled the order. Late in the race he had contact which dropped him back to fifth. He was able to make it back up to fourth by race end.

"When I got in we were upfront," Edwards said. "I was running with the No. 80 when we came up over the hill. I was on the inside and he was on the outside as we went into the braking zone there were three cars going really slow and we had contact. After the hit the car was pushing, but still very drivable. We led a lot laps and should have won today."

In the companion Banner Racing No. 06 Pontiac Leighton Reese and Marc Bunting finished sixth. Reese started the car from mid-pack in GT. Bunting took over on lap 31 and the team was able to get him back up the field through strong pit work, consistent driving and not taking tires at the end.

"We had a good car today," Bunting said. "Leighton had a good start and we were able to keep toward the front of the field. I had a small mistake coming up to the Oak Tree turn. I was coming up on the 40 car and just went off. I then had him setup on the front straight, but just could not get it done. We didn't take tires late, just fuel and that helped with track position. We still had a good car at the end."

Autohaus Motorsports finished the day in ninth. Tim Lewis Jr. and Lawson Aschenbach are looking for everything to come together to get their first podium finish.

"I think we have a black cat in the car somewhere," Aschenbach said. "We can't catch a break. In some sections of the track I was really fast and in others we lost a little. We spent a lot of time in the pits on the last stop. On my out lap I had a great first lap. I passed a bunch of cars and things were looking great. I got hit going into the Oak Tree turn and that sent us back down the field. The car was awesome and really good on old tires."

PR1Motorsports posted their first top 10 finish in only their second outing with the GXP.R. Patrick Barrett and Mike Forest had to overcome transmission problems during the race, but they managed to post a 10th place finish.

"The car felt good," Forest said. "We lost first and second in the first quarter of the race. Then at about the three-quarter distance we lost third gear. We were still ok until we had to exit the Oak Tree turn in fourth gear. We would just get eaten up down that straight. We have really improved since Homestead. With all of the gears I think we had a top five car today."

In the Daytona Prototype category the Riley-Matthews team continued their consistent season. Jim Matthews and Marc Goossens finished third on the strength of a good start by Matthews and strong last stint by the Belgian. The team was a fixture at the front most of the day with Matthews leading four laps.

"We didn't have enough car for the top two today," Goossens said. "The team did a good job with the strategy, which really saved us. When the tires started to go away the car was really hard to drive. Jim was able to lead some laps today. We have a second podium and we are second in the points now."

Tracy Krohn and Eric van de Poele finished the day in twelfth. The two put together a consistent race with strong strategy calls to post another solid finish.

"The car was good," van de Poele said. "It was a little loose under power, but altogether not a bad day. I had a moment in the esses and it was really quite exciting. I was engaged in good battle with the 59 car. This a fun track, especially when it is good hard and fair racing."

The GAINSCO team suffered their worst finish since the 2007 Rolex 24. Jon Fogarty started from the back of the grid after their qualifying time was disallowed. Fogarty drove up through the field to take the lead on lap 14. Fogarty led 18 laps and looked to be cruising. Then contact with a slower car for the second consecutive week cost the team a top finish. Gurney got in the car to finish the red 99 Pontiac Riley in 14th.

"It is unfortunate, my emotions are at the bottom of the barrel right now," Fogarty said. "I got the greatest job in the world, and the greatest team in the world and the greatest sponsor in GAINSCO, but it is hard to be stoked right now. We were going to win. I had a clean pass but we got hit from behind. He was on the outside of me and I went underneath him and I was well on my way exiting the corner, accelerating hard. I hit the apex of the turn and was tracking out and then just 'bang,' from behind. I have no idea what happened."

The second Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola driven by Nic Jonsson and Ricardo Zonta led a lot of laps on the day. When Jonsson turned the car over to Zonta in the lead, the green machine started to develop an electrical problem. Zonta eventually managed to finish 16th.

"I was ok for the first 10 laps of my stint," Zonta said. "Then the car started to cut-out and I had to nearly stop on the circuit with a completely dead dash board. I had to come in a couple times so the team could fix the problem. It is too bad. We had a car that could have been on the podium today."

The SunTrust team continued their string of tough finishes coming home in 17th. Michael Valiante started the No. 10 Pontiac Dallara from the pole position. Valiante led eight laps on the day before contact once again hampered their race. When Angelelli took over the car he noticed a rear end problem and had to pit with a bent rear control arm.

"Rojas tried to pass on the outside, and I was on the inside," said Valiante. "We went into the second corner and he wasn't past. He just kept his foot in it, and I was right there. I tried to give him room. He hit me once. I slid wide but I saved it. He hit me again and I saved that, too. Then he hit me a third time and spun me out. I came in right away and wasn't sure how badly it was damaged. It was fine before that. Our biggest problem was keeping the tires on it. I think we had a podium car."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Krohn Racing , Stevenson Motorsports