Bill Auberlen and Paul Dalla Lana won their first Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race in two years, scoring a thrilling victory in the first GRAND-AM competition at the Circuit Of The Americas.
Auberlen held off a hard-charging Spencer Pumpelly to win in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3, with the pair changing the lead twice in the final seven minutes. Pumpelly, who took over for Dr. Jim Norman in the No. 38 BGB Motorsports Porsche Cayman, closed to within four-tenths of a second with one lap remaining. Auberlen then was able to take advantage of lapped traffic in Turn 1 to pull away and win by 3.804 seconds.
The ST battle also came down to the wire. Stevan McAleer – racing for only the second time in the series – passed Tom Long and Terry Borcheller in the final two laps to give Austin-based CJ Wilson Racing its first GRAND-AM victory. McAleer took over for Marc Miller in the winning No. 5 Mazda MX-5, beating Long and Derek Whitis in the No. 25 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5, and Borcheller and Mike LaMarra in the No. 23 Burton Racing BMW 128i.
Texas 200: The Stats
GS 1st: Paul Dalla Lana and Bill Auberlen, No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3
GS 2nd: Dr. Jim Norman and Spencer Pumpelly, No. 38 BGB Motorsports Porsche Carrera
GS 3rd: Bret Sandberg and Charles Espenlaub, No. 48 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3
ST 1st: Marc Miller and Stevan McAleer, No. 5 CJ Wilson Racing Mazda MX-5
ST 2nd: Derek Whitis and Tom Long, No. 25 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5
ST 3rd: Mike LaMarra and Terry Borcheller, No. 23 Burton Racing BMW 128i
Margin of Victory: 3.804 seconds (GS); .656 seconds (ST)
Average Speed: 74.046 mph (GS); 71.735 mph (ST)
Cautions: Three for 13 laps
GS: Nick Longhi/Matt Plumb, 60; Jim Norman/Spencer Pumpelly, 54; Matt Bell/John Edwards, Tonis Kasemets/Michael Marsal, Mike McGovern, 46.
ST: Ryan Eversley/Kyle Gimple, 55; Tom Long/Derek Whitis, 50; Seth Thomas/Daniel Rogers, Corey Fergus/Owen Trinkler, 45; Pierre Kleinubing/Jayson Clunie, 42.
- Both of the Roush Performance Ford Mustangs led the race for eight laps. Shelby Blackstock led early in the event in the team’s No. 51 Boss 302R, while Johnson was leading in the closing 45 minutes before being forced to pit with a fuel feed issue.
- It was a weekend of firsts for CJ Wilson Racing. Chad McCumbee gave the Austin-based team its first pole position in Friday’s qualifying, knocking off third-place teammate Marc Miller and RSR Motorsports Corey Fergus in the final minute. Then on Saturday, Stevan McAleer went from third to first to give the team its first victory. McAleer co-drove with Miller in the No. 5 Modspace Mazda MX-5. Jason Saini gave the team its first fastest race lap after taking over for McCumbee in the No. 3 entry, but a spin resulted in a seventh-place finish.
- After running Subarus in the CTSCC since 2006, Phoenix Performance debuted a new Ford Mustang Boss 302R at Austin. Driver Andrew Aquilante and crew chief Kurt Rezzetano spearheaded building the car, taking a new body shell on Feb. 6 and converting it into a race car. Team owner Joe Aquilante estimates the pair put 300 hours into the project, finishing up on Feb. 22. It was the first time Phoenix ran a car other than a Subaru since the inaugural 2001 season, when John Heinricy, Bill Lester and John Yarosz drove a Corvette and Pontiac for the Philadelphia-area team.
- A two-car incident on Thursday’s test day eliminated the No. 140 Automatic Racing Aston Martin Vantage while sending Roush Performance to a back-up for its No. 51 Ford Mustang Boss 302R. Dr. Tim Fox experienced brake issues in the Aston Martin entering Turn 1 and slammed into the Ford driven by Joey Atterbury. The Roush team had earlier entered its No. 60 Mustang for the test day – and converted it to the No. 51 for Atterbury and Shelby Blackstock. Automatic team manager David Russell hopes to have the Aston Martin back in action for the next race at Barber Motorsports Park.
- Joel Janco carries “Death to Lionfish” sponsorship on the No. 05 Racers Edge Ford Mustang Boss 302R. Lionfish are an invasive species changing the ecosystem since being accidentally introduced in 1992 near Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Janco became aware of the danger through his friend, biologist Dr. Steven Miller. With no natural enemies, Lionfish prey on juvenal grouper, snapper and other popular sport fish. Janco’s goal is to raise awareness of the dangers of the spread of the species. “It’s great eating, too,” he said.
- The race will be televised on SPEED on Saturday, March 9, at 4 p.m. ET.
- 8 – Position of the top-finishing Ford Mustang, driven by Roger Miller and Ian James
- 13 – ST leading laps led by Corey Fergus
- 15 – Number of laps led by Lawson Aschenbach after taking the green flag
- 19 – GS cars finishing on the lead lap
- 32 – Career podiums for race winner Bill Auberlen
- “We tested here, and that definitely paid off in spades. This place is pretty hard to get your arms around, and we came up with an unusual setup. It’s like a road course setup on one side, and an oval track setup on the other. We definitely had an advantage. It was great racing with Spencer (Pumpelly), we were back and forth for the lead at one point. But then Spencer got caught up in traffic, and that allowed me to pull away.” Bill Auberlen, No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3.
- “Billy (Auberlen) is great to race with. We’ve been doing this for many years. Today he raced me clean, and we had a great fight. Any chance of a last-ditch effort to pass him was hosed by some ST guys fighting for 27th place or whatever. But our team probably worked harder this weekend than anyone. We had challenges with the setup and some on-track issues, but the guys all worked non-stop the whole time we were here.” Spencer Pumpelly, No. 38 BGB Motorsports Porsche Carrera
- “On that last restart I got held up by an Aston Martin, and that allowed a few of the front-wheel drive cars to get by. I was getting a little desperate because I was running out of time. On the last lap, the guys were yelling on the radio, ‘We’re on the podium, don’t do anything stupid.’ For me to be up here after winning the race is pretty unbelievable.” Stevan McAleer, No. 5 CJ Wilson Racing Mazda MX-5
- “It’s supposed to end up the other way, but it’s fun to be back on the podium. It’s great for the team to be in this position. They’ve worked hard through a lot of adversity for a long time. I’m not happy getting passed like this, but I’m happy to be on the podium.” Terry Borcheller, No. 23 Burton Racing BMW 128i
- “This track really has many of the characteristics of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. We have had a lot of success there, so we took a lot of the fundamentals that made us successful at Mazda Raceway and applied it to here. Today was good clean racing, and to come away with a podium is looking good for the points. I thought we were poised to take the win, but it didn’t quite work out.” Tom Long, No. 25 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5
- “This track is very technical, literally with a little bit of everything. There’s something for everyone, driver-wise. It’s like a modern-day version of Virginia International Raceway. I absolutely love it.” Ryan Eversley, No. 75 Compass360 Racing Honda Civic Si
- “I think it’s great that a NASCAR driver can come to an F1 track in a sports car race series and get pole. … We will be very proud of this moment for a long time but it’s merely a step towards out goal of winning Continental Tire Sports Car Series races. We now have to follow through.” C.J. Wilson, owner, CJ Wilson Racing after Chad McCumbee won the ST pole, the first for the team.
Round 3 of the 2013 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge will be held at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday, April 6.