Road America: GT race notes

Fitzgerald wins speed GT Race at Road America ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Aug. 3, 2003) -- Mike Fitzgerald, of Phoenix, Ariz., drove his Porsche to victory circle for the second time this season after passing early leader Randy Pobst on lap six of the...

Fitzgerald wins speed GT Race at Road America

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Aug. 3, 2003) -- Mike Fitzgerald, of Phoenix, Ariz., drove his Porsche to victory circle for the second time this season after passing early leader Randy Pobst on lap six of the SCCA Speed World Challenge GT Round Seven race at Road America Sunday. Michael Galati, of N. Olmstead, Ohio, and Paul Mumford, of Yorba Linda, Calif., survived a late-race melee to complete the top three.

Fitzgerald, driver of the No. 22 1st Interstate Inns/3R Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, battled Pobst for three laps until making his move in the infamous Kink to take the lead and never looked back. Fitzgerald averaged 84.878 mph during the 18-lap, 72.864-mile race, which ended under caution.

"I was trying to be patient, but I had a whole stack of BMW's behind me," Fitzgerald said describing the move he put on Pobst for the lead. "The way these races work, is the first guy to get around the Audis ends up winning. I wanted to get around Randy as quickly as possible and, hopefully, he would hold the rest of the guys off. Well, that didn't exactly happen. I had to force my way underneath him in the kink. Randy raced clean and hard."

Fitzgerald earned the Remus Power Move of the Race for the pass.

The race was essentially finished on lap 17, when Phil McClure, then running fourth, slid wide in turn eight, spinning his Corvette back across the track and into oncoming traffic. The resulting accident, which blocked most of the track, also eliminated the cars of Michael McCann, Jim McCann, Hans Stuck and Bob Woodhouse. McClure, 40, of Floris, Iowa, was transported to Plymouth Hospital for observation and tests. McClure was awake and alert at the time he was transported and listed in stable condition at the hospital. No other drivers were injured.

Clear of the accident, two-time defending series Champion Galati, driver of the No. 1 Champion Racing Audi RS 6, finished second, his first podium finish of 2003. Galati's finish ended a seven-race hiatus from the podium, dating back to the 2002 finale at VIRginia International Raceway.

"I know I had a good shot to get up front," Galati said. "I had an incredible last lap and got the second spot."

Rookie driver Mumford, driver of the No. 23 Magellan Financial Dodge Viper, had arguably the best luck of the day charging from his 22nd starting position to finish third in his first-career Speed GT race. He not only captured his first podium finish, but was also won the Sunoco Hard Charger of the race award for moving up 19 positions. The finish was also the first podium for the new Dodge Viper Competition Coupe.

Galati's teammate, former Championship leader Pobst, did not fair as well. After leading early, his Audi took a detour into the sand trap at turn 12. He then returned to pit lane to fix a tie rod and, as he left the pits, the hood on his Audi opened, forcing him to get out of the car at the end of pit lane to pin it down. With his 21st-place finish, Pobst dropped to third in points.

BMW Team PTG also experienced some good and bad luck during the event, as Boris Said, of Carlsbad, Calif., who was running fourth at one point in the race, took a rough ride into the gravel at turn five and had to be pulled out. Said's trip to the gravel in his No. 6 BMW M3 dropped him from fourth to 21st position. However, the late-race accident helped advance him back up to fourth. Said's teammate, pole winner and point leader Bill Auberlen, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., was running second to Fitzgerald, but was black flagged for jumping on a lap-16 restart, necessitating a late-race stop-and-go. He ended up seventh, behind Victor Contreras, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Tom Oates, of Chester Springs, Pa.

Auberlen maintains his SCCA Speed GT Drivers' Championship point lead, with 181 points, followed by McClure (163 points), Pobst (160), Fitzgerald (136) and Stuck (134).

BMW maintains the lead in the Speed GT Manufacturers' Championship Presented by Racer Magazine, with 43 points, followed by Audi (35 points), Porsche (28) and Chevrolet (27).

The SCCA Speed World Challenge GT Championship heads to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Sept. 5-7 for the Monterey Sports Car Championship in Monterey, Calif.

Today's race will air at 10:00 p.m. (EDT) Friday, Aug. 22 on Speed Channel.

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Series PWC
Drivers Boris Said , Bill Auberlen , Randy Pobst , Phil McClure , Michael McCann , Paul Mumford , Bob Woodhouse , Jim McCann , Tom Oates
Teams HART