Motorsports Update – September 10, 2012
GRAND-AM Road Racing
Continental Tire Sports Car Festival, powered by Mazda
Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge – Saturday
Take your pick: Demolition derby or street fight on a road course.
Both pretty much summed up Saturday’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – a race nobody wanted to win.
Penalties were handed by the bushel basket full and ultimately decided the overall and Grand Sport winners, the No. 9 Stevenson Auto Group Camaro GS.R pair of John Edwards and Matt Bell. Edwards was behind the wheel of the Chevrolet when the two race leaders – David Empringham and Matt Plumb – were cited for jumping the restart on the 59th of 71 laps.
Edwards was anything but home free. He weathered final-lap, Turn 2 body slam from the then-second-place No. 35 Subaru WRX-S of Andrew Aquillante. Edwards’ car fish-tailed but continued but Aquillante’s Subaru suffered terminal wounds, sliding to a halt with flames shooting from its underside.
Edwards, the race’s 10th different leader, carried a 1.672-second lead to the checkered flag. Bryan Sellers and Mark Boden finished second in the No. 46 BCKSTRGR / Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3. The battered No. 71 Multimatic Motorsports / Aston Martin Racing / Zion Aston Martin Vantage which led 12 laps earlier with Tonis Kasemets at the controls was third shared by Jade Buford.
Things were far less hectic in Street Tuner where Tom Long, the last of six leaders, put the No. 25 Mazda / Semperfifund.org Mazda MX-5 ahead on the 49th lap. Long and Derek Whitis also took over the ST championship lead.
The winners’ teammates and last year’s ST winners Rhett O’Doski and Andrew Carbonell, No. 26 Mazda / Semperfifund.org Mazda MX-5, finished second.
Rolex Series – Sunday
Spirit of Daytona’s Richard Westbrook and Antonio Garcia won Sunday’s Continental Tires Sports Car Festival Powered by Mazda to become the first GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype team with three victories this season.
For Jon Fogarty, Alex Gurney and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing a solid runner-up result was nice but also continued their winless streak – dating to mid-2011 – to 13.
There was little doubt the fastest car won the race. Westbrook, who qualified the No. 90 Corvette DP on the pole and partner Garcia, led 41 of the afternoon’s race-record 110 laps. Westbrook led the first 28 times around the 11-turn, 2.238-mile course and Garcia the final five.
The race was a true cat-and-mouse affair with three main players – Spirit of Daytona, GAINSCO and Starworks Motorsport’s Ryan Dalziel partnered with Alex Tagliani in the No. 8 Ford/Riley.
The winners and Dalziel, who finished third, had speed. Fogarty and Gurney weren’t quite as quick and ran out their next-to-final fuel load hoping for a full course caution that didn’t happen.
Gurney finally was forced to pit the No. 99 Corvette DP on the 107th lap, leaving him in second place. The pre-race hype – the 99 team’s 99th DP race on 9/9 couldn’t quite carry the day. The team, hoping to defend last year’s Mazda Raceway victory, last won in Montreal in August 2011.
Jeff Segal and Emil Assentato parlayed a second-place GT class finish into AIM Motorsports Team FXDD’s first GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Championship in the Ferrari 458 Italia’s initial full season.
Ferrari previously won GT titles in 2002-03. Segal and Assentato shared the GT title in 2010, driving Mazda RX-8s.
The largest smiles on the podium, however, belonged to class winners Wayne Nonnamaker and Dane Cameron, who gave Team Sahlen’s No. 43 Mazda RX-8 its first victory. John Potter and Andy Lally (No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche GT3) finished third.
American Le Mans Series
Next race: American Le Mans Series, presented by Tequila Patron VIR 240, September 13-15
Next race: GP Aperol di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, September 16
AMA Pro Racing
American Red Cross Devils Showdown, New Jersey Motorsports Park
More records fell as Josh Hayes extended his historic run of GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing excellence on Sunday at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
The conquering Hayes yet again looked to be in a class of his own as he completed the double at the American Red Cross Devil’s Showdown presented by Team Pro-Motion.
He quickly ended any dreams his rivals may have held of mounting a challenge on the race’s opening laps and steadily built his advantage from there.
Following 23 faultless circulations, Hayes claimed the checkered flag with more than eight seconds to spare to score his 13th victory of the season — a new all-time AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike record.
Chaz Davies claimed his and his team’s first ever SBK race victory with an impressive display over 20-laps, winning by over three seconds easing up, after top contenders Marco Melandri and Max Biaggi had crashed out of podium positions.
In a festival of points for British and Irish riders, Eugene Laverty was second, and a great ride from Leon Camier saw him recover from a less than perfect start to go third and take a first podium for the FIXI Crescent Suzuki team.
Jonathan Rea was fourth and one-time race leader Tom Sykes fifth. Biaggi recovered to finish the race 13th, half a minute down on the winner.
In the championship Biaggi has 318 points, Melandri 308.5 and Sykes 291.5, making the fight for the overall title win closer between the top three yet again.
Formula 1 Gran Premio Santander D’Italia
Lewis Hamilton won a compelling Italian Grand Prix in which both Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel retired while Sergio Perez came from 12th on the grid to finish second.
Hamilton dominated the race throughout with the action taking place behind him, but Perez, the star performer, finished just 4.3s behind at the end of the race. Fernando Alonso finished third after starting from tenth and couldn’t stop Perez passing him seven laps from the end of the race.
Felipe Massa finished fourth after playing a dutiful role for Ferrari, splitting the McLarens at the start and then making way for Alonso midway through the race. Kimi Raikkonen finished fifth, the only other championship contender to make the chequered flag as Mark Webber retired two laps from the end.
Michael Schumacher finished close behind Raikkonen in sixth place ahead of his team-mate Nico Rosberg, Paul di Resta, Kamui Kobayashi and Bruno Senna.
Next race: MAVTV 500, Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, September 15
Federated Auto Parts 400, Richmond International Speedway
Clint Bowyer celebrated in victory lane Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway.
Jeff Gordon celebrated on pit road while climbing out his car.
Bowyer overcame a collision with Juan Pablo Montoya that resulted in a flat tire and a spin, took the lead and then made his gas go a long way to win the Federated Auto Parts 400.
Gordon, who needed to make up 12 points to overtake Kyle Busch to claim the final spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, overcame an ill-handling car to make a late surge. Gordon picked off enough cars to finish second, which vaulted the four-time champion three points ahead of Busch for the final spot in the 12-driver field.
Mark Martin finished third, followed by Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth.
Mac Tooles U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus
Tony Schumacher raced to a record ninth Top Fuel victory Sunday at the rain-delayed race.
Mike Neff (Funny Car), Dave Connolly (Pro Stock), and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners of the final regular-season event in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
Schumacher moved past “Big Daddy” Don Garlits for most Indy Top Fuel wins and into a tie with Pro Stock great Bob Glidden for most Pro category wins
Sources: series websites, press releases and various independent motorsports websites