Curran's RealTime Acura Second at PIR Driver, Manufacturer Points Leads Still Alive The SPEED Touring Cars completed their West Coast swing at Portland International Raceway with Round Eight, where Eric Curran gave the RealTime Acura RSX...
Curran's RealTime Acura Second at PIR
Driver, Manufacturer Points Leads Still Alive
The SPEED Touring Cars completed their West Coast swing at Portland International Raceway with Round Eight, where Eric Curran gave the RealTime Acura RSX model its best result of the season. The strong second place finish was his career-best in SCCA SPEED World Challenge competition, and was just 1.797 seconds behind Mazda6 driver Randy Pobst and a scant 0.277 seconds ahead of the third place BMW 325i of Matt Richmond.
It has been a couple of rugged races that the RealTime Acura team has endured of late, but they have emerged with their points leads intact for the Drivers' and Manufacturers' Championships.
"The combination of my commitment to run the full season with RealTime, the resulting dedication of my car's crew, and the way we've adapted to each other is the secret to my success in this half of the season," Curran said. "While I didn't have anything for Randy today, Matt and I had a great race-long battle."
Curran qualified the fastest of the five-car RealTime fleet in sixth, but quickly moved up to third at the start. He passed Richmond for second on Lap 3, but had a mirror-full for the entire contest, as the two were seldom separated by more than one car length.
RealTime leader Peter Cunningham had this to say about the driver who saved the day, "Eric was one of only two drivers in the race to run 29 of the race's 31 laps within 1.5% of his average lap time, showing remarkable consistency. This weekend's opportunity couldn't have happened in the first place without the help of Bill Fenton, Eric's team boss from the Grand Am Cup series where he drives another Acura RSX. Bill graciously allowed Eric to be excused from his commitments at Barber Motorsports Park today so he could continue his fight in Touring Car. It's safe to say we're all quite pleased with the outcome!"
Series Rookie of the Year runaway Brandon Davis kept improving on his young career-best stats with a fifth place in his Acura TSX. Since starting the season off with a pair of 11th place finishes, he hasn't been out of the top-10. This first-ever top-five earns him 15lbs of REWARDS weight as the series heads to his second home town, in Colorado, where the University of Denver rising sophomore looks forward to another strong run, this time in front of his peers.
Second-year RealTime pilot Nick Esayian also turned in the best finish of his World Challenge career with a satisfying ninth place result, after starting directly behind three of his teammates in 13th. For the second event in a row, he showed his boss Cunningham the proper line in the opening laps--the first six here in Portland. Nick's speed has been particularly impressive in the last few events, as he continues to unlock the secrets of getting the most out of his RSX.
Cunningham, saddled by 220 pounds of REWARDS weight because of his success earlier in the season, saw much of the race out the windshield of his TSX and finished eighth, losing over 60% of his advantage in the Drivers' Championship chase, but still owns a 10-point lead over Pobst. In the past three races, Pobst has amassed 91 markers, while Cunningham has only managed 56.
The latest win from Mazda also cut Acura's four-point Manufacturers' Championship lead in half, taking it down to a 56-54 margin. Mazda has outscored Acura 23 to 13 in the last three rounds, all but erasing the 12-point lead Acura enjoyed after Cleveland just one month ago.
Pierre Kleinubing came into the weekend a close second in Drivers' points, but qualified his TSX outside the top-seven for the first time this year in 12th. This may have contributed to his being caught up in a first-lap Turn 1 wrestling match. Although three of his teammates also felt its effects, Pierre fared the worst, and was forced to the pit for repairs. The RealTime crew did an amazing job replacing a flat tire and getting Pierre's TSX back to the fight on the lead lap, albeit just ahead of the frontrunners. From there, he did what he could to get his wounded machine to the checkers in a disappointing 16th, one lap down. He lost his second place spot on the points tally to Pobst, but still sits third.
The starting grid reflected the REWARDS weight carried by Cunningham and Kleinubing, plus the additional 50 pounds of base weight mandated by SCCA to the Acura TSX prior to the Infineon Raceway event two weeks ago.
The Portland race was televised on SPEED TV on a slight Same Day Delay basis, was re-aired early the next morning, and will be seen for a third occasion on Monday at 100p ET.
Round Nine of the series will be Saturday, August 13th at the Denver Grand Prix, sharing the bill with the ChampCars for the second time this season.
The RealTime Acura team is sponsored by the Acura Division of American Honda, A-SPEC, Red Line Oil, Eibach Springs, Memphis Car Audio, buyBrakes.com, BOSCH, Sparco, Hawk Performance, Brembo, SportCompactCar, Valley Graphix, Total Auto Body, PACT and A-YES.