CUNNINGHAM, KLEINUBING THWART FIELD IN WORLD CHALLENGE BATTLE LAKEVILLE, Conn. -- Two extended cautions during Saturday's 45-lap, 68.85-mile World Challenge race couldn't slow Peter Cunningham down as he drove his No. 42 RealTime ...
CUNNINGHAM, KLEINUBING THWART FIELD IN WORLD CHALLENGE BATTLE
LAKEVILLE, Conn. -- Two extended cautions during Saturday's 45-lap, 68.85-mile World Challenge race couldn't slow Peter Cunningham down as he drove his No. 42 RealTime Racing/Comptech Acura NSX away from the field for an 4.750-second victory over the No. 65 Saleen Allen Racing Saleen Mustang of Ron Johnson at the Dodge Dealers Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park.
"This was fantastic," said Cunningham. "We've always run well here, and it was great to come back and not have any problems. The BFGoodrich Tires T/A spec radials did fine, and the racing was better today because no one had an unfair advantage."
Cunningham started in second behind pole sitter Terry Borcheller (No. 56 Saleen Allen Racing Saleen Mustang), who held the lead until lap 22 when retired with a broken exhaust manifold. Once in the lead, Cunningham checked out quickly, opening a large gap between himself and Johnson that extended to as much as nine seconds before the second of two full-course cautions came out, both for on-course incidents that resulted in no serious injuries.
"We thought about trying to make a run at the lead when we went green after the caution," said Johnson. "At that point, however, the difference became so great that we decided to let P.D. (Cunningham) get away and try to hold onto second."
Johnson had no time to worry about catching Cunningham because his mirrors were full of the No. 31 Viper Speed Dodge Viper of Bobby Archer, who finished third in his first racing action in over two years.
"We were pleased," said Archer. "We have a volunteer crew with little sponsorship. I had enough in the car to harass Ron, but not enough to really challenge him. We are at the bottom of the learning curve with this car, and going straight up."
The Touring Two Class contest showcased an intense five car shoot-out with the No. 43 RealTime Racing/Comptech Acura Integra R of Pierre Kleinubing taking a 1.703-second victory over teammate Michael Galati in the No. 43 RealTime Racing/Comptech Integra R. Kleinubing and Galati finished fifth and sixth overall in a race where they both kept pace with the larger T1 cars.
"This track is all about momentum," said Kleinubing. "To be fast you have to hold your speed coming off the hill. That allowed us to keep up with the T1 cars, too."
Kleinubing swapped the lead with Walter Puckett in the No. 6 ICY Quaker State Saturn at least four times throughout the race, taking the lead for good on lap 42. Waiting in the wings to pass Puckett two laps later was Galati, who earlier in the race had dropped from his start on the pole to fifth after getting caught in traffic. "I was blocked on the first restart and saw Pierre (Kleinubing), Walter (Puckett) and Taz (Harvey) go by," said Galati. "I battled back and finally got a nice shot at Walter coming off the hill where I was able to get by."
After two races, Johnson leads the T1 Class Drivers' Championship point standings with 56, followed by Reese Cox, 48; Cunningham, 44; and Chris Wiehle, 34. In the T2 Class, Kleinubing tops the Drivers' Championship with 65 points, followed by Galati, 58; Johannes van Overbeek, 47; Lance Stewart, 41; and Puckett and Hugh Plum, 36.