New Jersey Motorsports Park 6/2014
MILLVILLE, N.J. – Three drivers added to their 2014 Pirelli World Challenge win totals with victories in Round 5 of the Touring Car, Touring Car A and Touring Car B-Spec season at New Jersey Motorsports Park. In TC, Michael DiMeo, of Toronto, made it five-for-five wins. Shea Holbrook, of Groveland, Fla., took her second win of the season in TCA, while Brian Price, of Middletown, Va., won his fourth TCB race in five starts. Saturday’s win is the third of Holbrook’s career, and for DiMeo and Price, their season win totals match their career numbers.
DiMeo’s win Saturday in the No. 71 Grand Alarms Honda Civic Si did represent one first – it was the first time in five races this year he has led flag-to-flag en route to victory. He started from pole and controlled the race to score the win by 9.944 seconds, and was the only driver to break into the 1:29 range during the race.
“The car was really hooked up from the start of the weekend,” DiMeo said. “We put down some good laps. Even though it’s my first time here, we kept the pace ahead of everyone else.
We were a little worried coming into qualifying and we got a pretty good start, going into corner one,” he added. “No one really tried to pull a move going into corner one. That was my biggest worry. I knew I had the pace, but I didn’t want to risk anything. Once I was clear of corner one, I started running qualifying laps and ran good times.” Of winning five races in as many starts, DiMeo said, “It feels awesome. I never could have imagined this would have happened.”
Behind him, two first-time 2014 starters enjoyed a scrap for the final podium positions with DiMeo’s teammate and Compass360 Racing team principal Karl Thomson, of Toronto.
After starting second, Kevin Anderson, of Huntington Station, N.Y. finished in the same position in the No. 23 TechSportRacing.com Mazda RX-8. Anderson fell to third early but made it past Randy Hale, of Haddam, Conn., in the No. 83 TransAero Mazda MX-5, for second on Lap 18.
Hale was seeking a podium on his return to the series for the first time since Lime Rock Park last year, but contact between he and Thomson, in the No. 72 CTF.org/Touge Tuning/Racing4Research Honda Civic Si forced Hale to pit.
Thomson made it home in third for his second straight podium finish, ahead of series debutante Emilee Tominovich, of Laurel, Md., in the No. 19 Emich Racing Volkswagen Jetta GLI. Tominovich, the Mazda MX-5 Cup graduate, drove a clean race in her debut.
In TCA, the Shea Racing team had a 1-2 run going for most of the race with Jason Cherry, of Gambrills, Md., who led early in the No. 13 Autism Society of America/Avpro/Purposeful Architecture Mazda MX-5. Cherry had a stellar start, gaining five positions from his starting position to secure the Optima Batteries Best Standing Start Award.
On Lap 16, both Holbrook and Ernie Francis Jr., of Dania, Fla., in the No. 98 Breathless Performance Mazda MX-5 made it past Cherry for first and second. Holbrook held onto win by 6.687 seconds over Francis Jr. Cherry held on for third over the pair of Kinetic Motorsports teammates.
“I'm extremely happy with our performance!” said Holbrook, who started from pole position. “I had some points to make up and we did just that. I was given a great car and drove smart. I plan on rolling this momentum into tomorrow's race. I can't thank my crew and partners enough! Always happy to put my TrueCar, Lucas Oil, Radium, Women Sports Foundation, Hendrick Honda Civic Si on the pole and podium!”
The TCB race, like most of Price’s wins this year, were fairly straightforward. Price delivered a flag-to-flag victory in the No. 51 Unlimited Racing/RP Performance Honda Fit, from his second pole position of the year. “It was pretty unbelievable, having my whole family, kids, wife, lots of friends and crew all here,” Price said. “We got out to a bit of a lead, guys were lined up to catch me, and then they were all of a sudden battling and going back and forth. I was able to pull away.”
And as in previous races, the action behind him was intense. The Cadillac CTS-V Move of the Race – if not a contender for move of the year in TCB – came on Lap 5. Tyler Palmer, of San Diego, Calif., in the No. 37 MINI USA Mini Cooper led Paul Holton, of Tallahassee, Fla. in the No. 65 Radium/TRUECar/Lucas Oil Honda Fit and Nathan Stacy, of Owasso, Okla., in the No. 14 MDG/Ford Racing Ford Fiesta out of the last corner leading onto the front straight.
Holton got Palmer down the straight on the inside but before he could breathe and soak up the move for second, Stacy made a three-wide move to the inside of both of them into Turn 1 to secure the position. That netted him both the Move of the Race award and StopTech Brake Late, Finish First award.
But while Stacy had the move early, he didn’t have the sustainability to hold off Palmer. Palmer made it back past on Lap 10, in what earned him the Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the Race award and held the position for his third runner-up finish in as many starts this season. Stacy ended third for his third straight podium finish.
Holton finished fourth, and Shea Racing teammate P.J. Groenke, of Toronto, in the No. 66 Verax.ca/Tundra/Mulligan Gold Honda Fit finished fifth. Groenke, who gained seven positions from start-to-finish, took home the Sunoco Hard Charger Award.
Race two of the weekend, Round 6, will air on-demand at World-ChallengeTV.com after 3 p.m. ET.
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