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Author Topic: Closest Grand Am ST race
Drago Verified Driver Made Donation to Website Series Champ
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Congrats Tom and Derek, You guys will win one of these things yet!
Jim


Pobst, Miller Win Grand-Am Fan Appreciation Weekend Street Tuner Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway


Winning pair overcomes agonizing pole day to win second closest KONI race






HOMESTEAD, Fla. (March 14, 2009) - A day after missing the pole position in Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge competition by only .003 seconds, Randy Pobst and Christian Miller took the No. 74 Compass360 Racing Honda Civic Si to victory in the Street Tuner (ST) class Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the second closest finish in KONI Challenge history.

Pobst fought Tom Long in a seesaw battle that saw both drivers lead multiple times over the final half hour of action on the 2.3-mile, 11-turn track, but a pass in Turn 11 on Lap 89 of 92 gave Pobst the lead for the final time. He held onto the point for the final four laps to earn his fifth career overall and class victories, while giving Miller his first win.

The margin of victory, which stood at 0.129 seconds, was the second closest finish in KONI Challenge history. Only the race at Watkins Glen International in 2004 was closest (0.050 seconds). The race's average speed was 84.418 mph, the second fastest KONI race at the track.

KONI Sports Car Challenge action continues Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, when Grand Sport (GS) class drivers will compete in a two-and-a-half hour race.

Pobst took the lead for the first time on Lap 60, when he passed Kirk Spencer between Turns 7 and 8 in the infield, and held on for 16 laps. Shortly after, Long made his way to second when Josh Hurley pitted during the green flag.

The final of two cautions occurred on Lap 72 for debris on the front straightaway, bunching up the field and giving Pobst and Long a chance to battle to the end.

And battle, back-and-forth, lap after lap, they did.

When the green flag was displayed on Lap 74, Long shadowed Pobst around the track for two laps before making the pass on Lap 76. Pobst regained the lead for three laps, then Long took the lead from Laps 80-85 before being edged to the line on Lap 86.

Each time Pobst tried to take the lead on the outside of Turn 1, he was denied, but on the outside of Turn 11 is where he was the strongest. He finally got by on Lap 89, leading by just a few car lengths at the line.

Long didn't quit though. He pushed his No. 145 Freedom Autosports Mazda MX-5 deeper each lap, and ran nose-to-tail behind Pobst until the final lap. Also Freedom's team manager, Long looked for a way around Pobst coming out of the final corner, but didn't have enough power to pull alongside and challenge. Instead, he and co-driver Derek Whitis became bridesmaids once again.

Between Pobst and Long were six lead changes over the final 17 laps. Overall, Miller - who started second after nearly taking the pole position Friday - led a race-high 37 laps, all in succession, after taking the lead from polesitter Andrew Aquilante on Lap 6. Miller held the lead until Lap 42, when he pitted during the first caution, which came out for debris between Turns 8 and 9.

Finishing third, 8.464 seconds back, were Hurley and Ian Baas, who drove the No. 171 APR Motorsport Volkswagen GTI. Though neither driver led the race, both drivers ran in the top three for the majority of their stints. Baas had qualified the car third fastest on Friday.

Fourth in the No. 01 Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt SS were Spencer and Ashley McCalmont, who earned their third top-five finish in the last four races together. Spencer led nine laps before Pobst passed him, and McCalmont ran as high as third during her stint.

Despite a problem with the car's ABS unit, which caused one of the No. 111 Subaru Road Racing Team Subaru Legacy's tires to flat spot, Kristian Skavnes and Andrew Aquilante finished fifth, their second straight top-five finish. Aquilante led the opening five laps before slipping as far back as 11th by Lap 11. He pitted and was in danger of going a lap down, but consistent lap times and a well-timed caution period allowed him to return to the front of the field for one lap.

Skavnes and Aquilante's persistence also rewarded them with a share of the point lead, which they share with two other drivers. Fresh From Florida 200 co-winners Pat Iannucci, of Boca Raton, Fla., and Lawson Aschenbach of West Palm Beach, Fla., finished eighth, and all four drivers are now tied with 58 points. Spencer and McCalmont sit third in points with 56.

The next KONI Challenge ST race will be run simultaneously with GS on May 2 at Thunderbolt Raceway at New Jersey Motorsports Park.

NEWS & NOTES

- The KONI Sports Car Challenge victory was the fifth by Randy Pobst and first ever by Christian Miller. The statistic is the same for overall and class victories.
- The last victory by Pobst in KONI Challenge competition was Oct. 5, 2003 at Virginia International Raceway. All four of Pobst's previous KONI victories came in 2003.
- This is the first victory of the season for Compass360 Racing and first time the team has won a race since Aug. 16, 2008 at Le Circuit de Trois-Rivières (Adam Burrows and Trevor Hopwood; seventh Saturday at Homestead-Miami).
- This is the first victory of the season for the Honda Civic Si and first KONI ST victory since Bill Fenton Motorsports put its No. 29 Honda Civic Si into victory lane at Thunderbolt Raceway at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
- This is the third KONI victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway for Honda, tying the manufacturer with Porsche for most KONI victories at the track. A Honda Accord won in 2007, and a Honda Civic Si won in 2001 - both by HART.
- The victory by Compass360 Racing ends a three-race winning streak by Georgian Bay Motorsports.
- Freedom Autosport earned its third podium finish in KONI Challenge history with a second-place finish. The team finished second at Lime Rock Park (with Saturday's runner-ups Tom Long and Derek Whitis) and third at Watkins Glen International, both in 2008.
- The third-place finish by Ian Baas and Josh Hurley was the team's second podium finish in history. Previously, Baas and Dion von Moltke took second at Miller Motorsports Park in 2008.
- The fourth-place finish by Kirk Spencer and Ashley McCalmont was the pair's third top-five finish in four races. At Daytona, the two also finished fourth.
- The fifth-place finish by the Subaru Road Racing Team and drivers Kristian Skavnes and Andrew Aquilante was the second straight top-10 finish this season. Skavnes and Aquilante took the No. 111 Subaru Legacy to second at Daytona.
- Andrew Danyliw and Gunter Schmidt earned both drivers' career-best finishes, taking sixth with the No. 138 GS Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt SS.
- The top five cars in finishing order were all different models made by different manufacturers: Honda Civic Si, Mazda MX-5, Volkswagen GTI, Subaru Legacy and Chevrolet Cobalt SS.
- Five of the top 10 cars were fielded by Canadian-based teams, including the race-winning No. 74 Compass360 Racing Honda Civic Si. Others included the Nos. 01 (fourth) and 00 (eighth) Chevrolet Cobalts, No. 138 Chevrolet Cobalt SS (sixth) and No. 75 Honda Civic Si (ninth, driven by Bo Roach and Jose Leroux).
- Eight of the 30 starters finished on the lead lap.
- Turner Motorsport rounded out the top 10, with Will Turner and Frank Selldorff taking 10th in the No. 95 BMW 328i.
- The No. 24 V-Pack Motorsport BMW 330i, which finished 11th behind drivers Jon Miller and Joe Masessa, advanced a race-high 19 positions.
- The race's two cautions and four caution laps were both race records in KONI Challenge competition at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
- South Florida drivers had mixed results. In addition to Hurley, Aschenbach and Iannucci, other South Florida drivers included Miami natives Andrew Carbonell (23rd; oil leak) and Ricky Diaz and Alfredo Carbonell (28th).

POST-RACE QUOTES (PODIUM FINISHING DRIVERS)

Christian Miller (No. 74 Compass360 Racing Honda Civic Si; ST race co-winner): "Three-thousandths times two and a half hours was about what the finish was. First and foremost, the guys at Compass360 Racing prepared the most brilliant car I've had in a long time of racing, and we needed every ounce of it today. We came out, starting on the front row after missing the pole by .003, had a great run after a couple of laps of mayhem and mischief at the beginning - thanks to a couple of my friends - but once everything got straightened away, it was just keeping it nice, straight and smooth, keeping it together to give to my co-driver. He apparently needed every last drop it had in it after two hours. He did the job only Randy could do."

Randy Pobst (No. 74 Compass360 Racing Honda Civic Si; ST race co-winner): "Some of the best racing in the world is in the KONI Challenge. There is an amazing variety of cars and drivers, and the Compass360 team - crew chief Ray Lee, owner Karl Thomson and all the guys on the team build a heck of a car. I've got to thank Christian Miller for doing such a great job qualifying the car and leading the start of the race second. When it came down to it at the end, it was the lighter-handling Mazda MX-5 against the Honda V-Tech power. I did not have that much left in the way of brakes, because when I first got in the car, I just drove it, drove it, drove it. And then here comes that MX-5. I knew it was going to be a tough race, and we went back and forth about a hundred times. Then I thought, 'This is dumb.' I aligned us and just watched for awhile, and I thought, 'I can beat him to the finish line.' My V-Tech is right at the peak of its power band in fifth gear at one point, and the MX-5 always slowed down there, because he didn't have exactly the right gear. And we did. We were lucky in that regard. It was extremely well prepared by the Compass360 team, and well driven by Christian Miller."

Tom Long (No. 145 Freedom Autosports Mazda MX-5; ST race runner-up): "Derek (Whitis) handed me over a perfect car. That car was set up so well, all the guys on the team did an awesome job this weekend. At the end, I thought we had him. But that big power on the banking from the Honda - the MX-5 was awesome in the turns, but I just couldn't get it done on the banking. Hats off to Randy (Pobst), I really respect him. I was quite a pleasure to run side by side for so many laps, and I hope to do it again real soon."

Derek Whitis (No. 145 Freedom Autosports Mazda MX-5; ST race runner-up): "This is easy when you have somebody as fast as Tom Long; he tells me to bring it in and don't crash it, let me do the rest of the work. Watching him running against someone as strong as Mr. Pobst was really a pleasure. It was great racing. All of the Freedom Autosports guys, Glenn Long and all of the guys, did a real good job. First and foremost, I want to recognize why we are here, and we honor the men and women of our armed services who are protecting our country for 230 years, we really appreciate all of them."

Ian Baas (No. 171 APR Motorsport Volkswagen GTI; ST race third place): "My part of the race seemed to be pretty uneventful. We started off with a lot of banging over the first four laps, fighting for position. I just wanted to give the car to Josh in a good position. This is the first podium of the season for APR Motorsports and got us some good points. I'm happy."

Josh Hurley (No. 171 APR Motorsport Volkswagen GTI; ST race third place): "Not only is this a hometown podium for me (Hurley lives in Cooper City), but it's a hometown podium for my sponsor, Gunther Volkswagen. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be out there. It was absolutely a great day. I really love running with APR Motorsports and Volkswagen. The Civics had a little bit of engine on us, but that's OK, the next race we'll try to get them."

Kirk Spencer (No. 01 Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt SS; ST race fourth place): "It was a great race. It was a little frustrating at the end, because we got held up by some of the lapped cars and couldn't get by them. They were waving the blue flag but they wouldn't move over. That cost us third position, but it was a good day. We didn't have the speed compared to the top two cars, and our tires went away. We were hanging on for dear life at the end."

Pat Iannucci (No. 00 Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt SS; ST race point co-leader): "The two leaders were fast all day, but I thought we had a good shot for third at the end. Lawson was fast and he picked up a lot of people, but we ran out of fuel with a few laps to go and had to make another stop; that pushed us back to eighth. We'll scratch this one off and go for the next one."

Lawson Aschenbach (No. 00 Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt SS; ST race point co-leader): "It's unfortunate, but it is what it is. We made some mistakes today. We had a really good car. We didn't have anything for Randy (Pobst) and the Mazda. I can't thank the Georgian Bay guys enough, along with some people who helped me - Roaring Lion Energy Drink and TGL and the McCalmonts. We had a good weekend; we just didn't put it together this weekend. But we'll be back and we'll be going for the win."

--------------------
Jim Drago
East Street Auto Salvage
jdrago1@aol.com
2006-2007 Mid-West Division
07,09 June Sprints Champion

EAST STREET RACING

Danny Steyn Verified Driver
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Congrats Derek and Tom - you make us SM boys proud! Drago - thanks for the report. Wished I could have been there.

--------------------
Danny
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OPM Autosports | Traqmate | Rossini Racing Engines
2010 June Sprints Champ, 2010 ARRC SMX Champ
2009 SARRC Champ, 2009 SEDiv ECR Champ, 2009 FES Champ
2008 SEDiv ECR Champ

Blake Clements Verified Driver Series Champ
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Way to go guys! No more bridesmaid next time! [Wink]

--------------------
Blake Clements

PhillipsRacePrep/SP Induction Systems/East Street Racing/MiataCage.com/Carbotech/WBR Graphics

www.blakeclements.com

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Thanks guys. It was pretty cool watching SM guy Tom Long trade 1 & 2 with Randy Pobst for 17 straight laps. Speaks a ton to SM.

This car is the JD2 car- Jim Daniels & Jim Drago. They built it and throughout ALL of last year, Daniels sorted it. Without that, we wouldn't even be close. Of course this would have happened sooner had I handed Daniels the car ahead of 19th place AND the camber not being knocked out of it. Thanks to both JDs!

Another SM'er, Todd Lamb finished a strong 5th in the GS race today, only a few spots behind Andy Lally. Another good race weekend for SM folks.

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Good run guys, you'll get the win soon enough.

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All this has happened before, and will happen again

Louis Interdonato
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Way to go Derek...its good to see the Spec Miata drivers doing well.

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WDCR SM # 90 http://www.rpperformanceracing.com/

cooleyjb
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Christian, Randy's codriver, has had a decent amount of seat time in a SM too from what I remember.

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Sweeet, Keep it up you'll win one soon...


MZ

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quote:
Originally posted by Drago:
Congrats Tom and Derek, You guys will win one of these things yet!
Jim



Tom Long (No. 145 Freedom Autosports Mazda MX-5; ST race runner-up): "Derek (Whitis) handed me over a perfect car.

Derek did more than that. I was there. With no full course yellows to keep the front group close, a greasy track, tires going/gone away, he kept the car in contention with the leaders in the first hour and 10. No offs, no beatin and bangin, just smooth, consistant fast laps. And gave the car with enough brakes left for Tom to go hunting for the win. Best race of Dereks career. [thumbsup]
Tom ran his typical 'grab it by the gruff of the neck and drag it to the front race' [Cool]
Enjoyed watching Tom run Randy down like a dog in the street. 'cept, it wasn't no dog, it was a SKUNK2. Lack of back room politikin' cost Freedom this race. Mazda and yous guys needs to get on the ball and see how you can get Grand AM to put a restrictor plate on that SKUNK2 motor, just like they did to the APR VW for Homestead . Will even up the top dogs at the front and give these Seminoles a chance to win. [Wink]
also need to git #146 issues squared away , hate to see wasted driving talent like the kid from FIU, another former SM driver ... also thought Rhett did pretty good considering the braking issues [yep]
Keep on truckin Freedom boys, you have already turned the corner, see good things happening at NJMP.
Carlos G.

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Hey Carlos- Tough to do when Tom runs the fastest lap of the race AND finishes a tenth behind Randy Pobst in the Brand-H car. We need some sand baggin!
[Smile]

GREAT job Derek, Tom, Glen, Rob, and ALL the crew!

--------------------
Tim Buck

MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development
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phone (800) 435-2508
fax (949) 222-2650

zoom-zoom!

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quote:
Originally posted by TimBuck:
Hey Carlos- Tough to do when Tom runs the fastest lap of the race AND finishes a tenth behind Randy Pobst in the Brand-H car. We need some sand baggin!
[Smile]


arrrgh ... but will go with your smilie above
[Smile]

let's just say that back in the day (late 70's), a very smart guy by the name of Damon Barnett (remember him ?) taught me that in Pro racing, politics is EVERYTHING. You build and prepare according to a rule set that gives you an advantage. To achieve that rule set requires intensive lobbying and politikin'. [Wink]
Not sayin the Freedom boys with their 4 car effort(including Flat Out) need any help, just sayin the WHOLE field needs the H brand brought back to them. If you were at Daytona, or at Homestead this weekend you would have seen the master jeddi of sandbaggin (Pobst)at work, pack pedalling through Nascar 3 & 4 every lap. That Skunk2 has top end power to spare. Leroux, a friend who rented the #75 Compass ride, said as much after the race. Power to spare on the straights.
Finally, the fellas at APR VW got a muzzle put on them after Daytona only because they were not playin 'the game' correctly.
As the AMP commercial says ; " Get to it !!"
[Smile] [Smile]
Good racing to all,
Carlos G.

Todd Lamb Verified Driver Made Donation to Website Series Champ
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Great job by the Freedom guys! It was a blast watching Tom and Randy duke it out handling vs. horsepower. I think NJ will be a good opportunity for the first win with the MX-5.

The Sunbelt/Cobalt/Traqmate BMW M3 was a blast to drive in GS - slick track for sure and a couple of times on the banking I was turning right instead of left, wondering how much slip angle was left before all hell broke loose. Good times! [Big Grin]

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Mazdaspeed // SafeRacer // Traqmate // OPM Autosports // East Street Auto // Cobalt Friction
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For your viewing pleasure...

http://www.grand-am.com/video_pop.cfm?mid=235

Glenn Long

Todd Lamb Verified Driver Made Donation to Website Series Champ
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I know what it feels like to drive an underdog against bigger HP:

http://www.toddlamb.com/videos/homestead09.wmv

--------------------
Mazdaspeed // SafeRacer // Traqmate // OPM Autosports // East Street Auto // Cobalt Friction
Racers Edge Motorsports Rolex GT RX-8 // i-MOTO Racing Conti Challenge MAZDASPEED3
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