For the second consecutive year the Roush Performance No. 61 Mustang Boss 302R, piloted by Billy Johnson and Jack Roush Jr., was in Victory Lane at Daytona.
Going into the Jan. 25 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge BMW Performance 200, the spotlight shined brightest on an armada of Aston Martin Vantages. The cars, mostly in livery of Multimatic Motorsports, had dominated Roar Before the 24 testing earlier in the month.
But – really, to no one's surprise – it was Roush Performance's No. 61 Mustang Boss 302R that went to Victory Lane for the second consecutive year. Veteran pilots Billy Johnson and Jack Roush Jr. – the latter making his return to the series after breaking his wrist in an incident last September at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway - led 29 of the 62 laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile speedway road course.
Roush Jr., who has driven to eight GS victories with Johnson, was pleased to be back in the seat – especially with his father, Jack Roush, watching from pit road.
"It's so great for him to have a chance to be here considering how busy his schedule is," said Roush Jr. "It is a big deal given what he's accomplished here and to have this victory. There's a lot of internal pressure to win and perform. Bringing home a win is exactly what we shoot for."
The team recovered from an early race flat tire with Johnson finally reaching the lead on the 33rd lap.
"I was trying pretty darn hard the last few laps," said Johnson. "Those Astons and Porsches were pretty quick."
Rum Bum Racing's No. 13 Porsche 997, helmed by Matt Plumb and Nick Longhi ran second with Multimatic's Nos. 15 and 16 Aston Martins of GS champions John Farano/David Empringham and Nick Mancuso/Frank Montecalvo occupying third and fourth. With CKS Autosport's No. 01 Camaro GS.R of Eric Curran-/Lawson Aschenbach taking fifth, it appears at least four manufacturers are early contenders for the 2013 championship. Each automaker enjoyed at least one lap at the head of the GS field.
The Street Tuner portion of the race was a coming out party for Nissan, which had introduced its Altima Coupe to the class a year ago with mixed results. What the automaker and Skullcandy Team Nissan learned and applied to this year's effort more than paid dividends as Lara Tallman and Vesko Kozarov drove the No. 33 car to victory. The team's second entry, co-driven by Chris Lock and Tim McIntosh, placed ninth for good measure.
The victory is the first in CTSCC for Tallman and Kozarov. Tallman, a mother of two sons from Salt Lake City, became the series' first female race winner since 2011.
"Winning at Daytona is simply awesome. There's no feeling in the world like being on the banks," said Tallman, whose best finish a year ago was a seventh – with Kozarov – at Watkins Glen International. "We've worked tremendously hard to build this team and the Altima coupes but we needed a win to establish ourselves as serious competitors.
"We knew we were capable but that's not always enough in racing. It all just came together – perfectly."
As in GS, three different brands scored finishes in the top three. Tyler Cooke and Greg Liefooghe finished second in the No. 81 BimmerWorld Racing BMW 328i with Kyle Gimple and Ryan Eversley third in the No. 75 Compass360 Racing Honda Civic Si.
The race will be televised on SPEED this Saturday, Feb. 2 at 4 p.m. ET.