Pirelli World Challenge W/ Nascar Nationwide RND 7
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Steven Doherty (Touring Car), Shea Holbrook (Touring Car A) and Paul Holton (Touring Car B-Spec) have captured victories in Round 7 of the Pirelli World Challenge season, the Cadillac Grand Prix at Road America.
It’s a banner day for all three. Doherty, in his first Pirelli World Challenge start of the year, has ended Michael DiMeo’s run of six victories in as many races to open the TC season. Meanwhile for Shea Racing, it’s the team’s first double race win with Holbrook taking her fourth class win of the season and Holton his first career win.
In TC, the Skullcandy Team Nissan team started 1-2 with Doherty’s teammate Bryan Heitkotter, of Fresno, Calif. in the No. 93 Nissan/GT Academy/Skullcandy Nissan Altima Coupe ahead of Doherty, in the No. 94 Nissan/GT Academy/Skullcandy Nissan Altima Coupe. Doherty advanced to second on the grid from third before the race even began due to the withdrawal of Dan Martinson, of Medina, Minn. in the No. 23 GearTie Mazda RX-8. Martinson withdrew due to crash damage from the morning qualifying session.
The race, which ran in mixed wet and drying conditions, began behind the safety car but once the green flew, Doherty took the lead on his teammate on the first green lap, Lap 2 into Turn 5. That was the StopTech Brake Late, Finish First Award winner. From there, Doherty was never headed the rest of the race and won by 6.337 seconds after the 14-lap race.
“It was wet and slick for sure,” Doherty said. “(Heitkotter) got me into Turn 1 on the inside on the start; I thought I broke late, but he broke later. Then it was a drag race down to Turn 5. I got a better run out-braking him into 5. From there, it was a clean windshield and clear sailing.”
DiMeo, of Toronto, in the No. 71 Grand Alarms Honda Civic Si had a season-worst second place finish, after starting fourth (had originally qualified fifth). But DiMeo delivered one of the race’s most exciting moments when he passed Heitkotter, Jon Miller and Adam Poland in one single move on the inside of the trio into the 90-degree left-handed Turn 5. That move netted DiMeo the Cadillac CTS-V Move of the Race award.
Poland, of Mt. Vernon, Texas in the No. 11 Eastex Motorsports/Poland Construction Mazda MX-5, made it up to third late in the race. The rookie driver also set the fastest race lap of 2:44.956 on a drying track, and will have the pole position for Round 8 later on Friday as a result.
In his first start of the season, Fred Emich, of Denver, Col., finished fourth in the No. 30 Emich Racing Volkswagen Jetta GTI while Miller, of Tustin, Calif., came home fifth in the No. 68 Racecomp Engineering Honda Civic Si. It’s Miller’s first race finish of the season, but his elusive first series podium continued to escape him after he fell from third place in the waning laps.
Holbrook, of Groveland, Fla., No. 67 TRUECar/Lucas Oil/Radium Honda Civic Si, inherited the TCA lead on Lap 5 when Jason Wolfe, of Mt. Vernon, Ohio went off course into the gravel at Turn 1 in the No. 36 Wolfe Trucking Kia Forte Koup. From there though, Holbrook was able to control the remainder of the race and took the win by 16.085 seconds.
“It looked like he went in too deep on the braking and thankfully I didn’t follow him in; it opened up a window of opportunity,” said Holbrook. “It was a super wet track, but it dried off. We got three out of four from our team on the podium and I couldn’t be happier for my team, guys and sponsors.”
As they were in Round 5 at New Jersey Motorsports Park, Ernie Francis Jr., of Dania, Fla. finished second in the No. 98 Breathless Performance Mazda MX-5 and Jason Cherry, of Gambrills, Md., in the No. 13 Autism Society of America/Avpro/Purposeful Architecture Mazda MX-5, finished third. Wolfe fell to fourth.
The TCB battle at the front saw Holton, of Tallahassee, Fla. in the No. 65 Radium/TRUECar/Lucas Oil Honda Fit take the lead on the first green lap of Lap 2 (as did Doherty) and then hold the gap to the rest of the field for the remainder of the race. Holton’s pass for the lead on polesitter Glenn Nixon was awarded the Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the Race.
“This feels really good, even though the track conditions were kind of terrible trying to figure out where to run the dry line,” Holton said. “I could see second and third fighting it out behind me, and it slowed them down.”
The aforementioned battle for second ultimately saw series debutante Nixon, of Mission, British Columbia take the position in the No. 58 Racing.ca/LaptopScreen.com/Nixon Prosports Mini Cooper. On Lap 8, Nixon made the move to the outside of Tyler Palmer, in another Mini, on the outside of the front straight into Turn 1.
Palmer, of San Diego, Calif., took home yet another series podium in the No. 37 MINI USA/Mobil 1/Flying L Racing/ThePainter’sFriend.com/Discount Tire Mini Cooper in third place. With a gain of six positions off the rolling start, Palmer took home the Optima Batteries Best Start award.
Fourth and turning in arguably the drive of the race in the class was first-time 2014 starter Michael Ashby, of Buffalo, Minn., in the No. 16 Morrie’s Mazda Motorsports Mazda 2. With a gain of 10 positions from start-to-finish, Ashby took home the Sunoco Hard Charger Award.
In fifth was returning driver Johan Schwartz, of Denmark in the No. 12 American Diabetes Association/Promatex/American Honda Honda Fit for Garrett Racing/Drive4Diabetes.
Of note, Kevin Fandozzi, of Saint Joseph, Mich., finished 12th in the No. 00 FIAT USA/Pirelli Tire/SRT Motorsports FIAT 500, in the car that runs for charity this season. Meanwhile TCB class points leader Brian Price, of Middletown, Va., in the No. 51 Unlimited Racing/RP Performance Honda Fit, did not start Round 7 due to contact in the morning qualifying session.
Poland’s 2:44.956 (TC), Holbrook’s 2:52.522 (TCA) and P.J. Groenke’s 3:12.015 (TCB) were the fastest race laps and will thus earn them the pole positions for Round 8, which goes green at 5:30 p.m. CT this afternoon.
This result, unofficially, keeps DiMeo in the TC points lead and moves Holbrook into the TCA points lead over Wolfe. Price still leads in TCB but his 216-point margin he had entering the weekend will be substantially reduced, if not overtaken by the end of Round 8.
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