TOOELE, Utah (May 19, 2007) – Tommy Archer, of Duluth, Minn., captured his first win of the season at Miller Motorsports Park for Round Three of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship, part of the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix. Defending race winner Lou Gigliotti, of Dallas, Texas, and Doug Peterson, of Bonita Springs, Fla., completed the podium.
Starting on pole in the No. 5 MOPAR/Autohaus Motorsport Dodge Viper, Archer was immediately challenged by Gigliotti into Turn One at the 4.486-mile, 24-turn road course. Gigliotti’s line to the inside cost him dearly however, and allowed Archer to pull more than a second gap ahead of Gigliotti in the first lap, while the Corvette driver fell into the clutches of fifth starting Randy Pobst.
As Gigliotti regained his composure, the gap to Archer closed, but Pobst was not content in third. On lap three, Pobst made the B&M Oil Coolers Coolest Move of the Race around Gigliotti in Turn One and pressed ahead to make his challenge for the lead. Only two laps later, Pobst tried the same move again on Archer into Turn One, but couldn’t keep his No. 22 K-PAX Racing LLC/Jim Haughey Porsche 911 GT3 on the road and spun into the runoff area, watching Gigliotti, Doug Peterson and K-PAX teammate Michael Galati drive by.
Back into second, Gigliotti resumed his chase on Archer. The No. 28 LG Pro Long Tube Headers Chevrolet Corvette pilot stayed within a second of Archer for the remainder of the 14-lap, 62.804-mile race, but was unable to mount a serious challenge, crossing the line behind Archer by 0.577-second.
The win is the seventh of Archer’s career and his first since last season at Road America.
“It feels really good,” Archer said of the weekend. “It’s good for a new sponsor. Mopar really hasn’t done much with road racing up until now so we feel that they will be good for the series. We had a good setup. It was a little loose in and good off the corner. Lou [Gigliotti] ran us clean and I think we were all thinking a little bit about the fact that we’re racing again in another five days [at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Thursday].
“Randy had a good car. I’m not sure why he was trying to make that move so early in the race. I left him a good lane and a half wide and he said he just plain couldn’t stop.”
The podium finish is the second in-a-row for Gigliotti, who won this race last year.
“Thank goodness the Porsche spun,” Gigliotti said. “If he hadn’t hit Tommy and slowed him down a little bit then I think it would have been a Porsche and Viper parade. [Pobst] slowed Tommy up a little bit which allowed me to catch up.
“Tommy and I have had some problems lately and the last thing I needed to do was run into him and I think the same for him. The last thing he needed to do was run into me. I tried to race him as clean as I could. If I had touched him, he might have slid out and I might have gotten by him. But even when he was off line, he could get on the throttle and pull away.
“I did think about nudging him a little bit. But I only thought about it.”
After earning his first career-pole at Sebring this year in the No. 87 3-Dimensional Services/LG Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, Peterson captured his career-best finish this weekend, crossing the line in third. Each of the three LG Motorsports Corvettes have now visited the podium this season.
“It really feels good to be on the podium,” Peterson said. “I feel like the new kid on the block. I’ve raced in a number of different series and this is the first year I’ve focused on just racing in the SPEED World Challenge. I can’t believe I’m here. I really can’t.”
Following his spin on lap five while challenging Archer for the win, Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., was able to work his way back up to fourth, setting the fastest lap of the race and new track record in the process, a 2:57.759 (90.851 mph). The top four cars were separated by just 1.596 seconds.
“On that one lap, for some reason, I really started to catch [Archer] and I couldn’t resist,” Pobst said. “I pulled out and went for it and he went a lot deeper in the braking zone than we could and I didn’t make it. I’m really glad I didn’t turn him around…and I’m sorry I turned me around.”
Pobst’s teammate, Michael Galati, of Olmstead, Ohio, completed the top five in his No. 23 K-PAX Racing LLC/Jim Haughey Porsche 911 GT3.
Reigning SCCA SPEED GT Champion Lawson Aschenbach brought his Cadillac CTS-V home in sixth, followed by Toyo Cup winner Rob Foster (Dodge Viper). In his return to SCCA SPEED GT, Bob Woodhouse (Dodge Viper) made up seven spots from his starting position to finish eighth. Michael McCann (Dodge Viper) and Jeff Courtney (Dodge Viper) completed the top ten.
NayKid Racing teammates Cindi Lux and Scotty B. White were both present in the Miller Motorsports Park podium ceremonies. Lux took home the Piloti Rookie of the Race Award for being the highest finishing rookie in the field in 13th and White was awarded the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing 12 positions in the race, from 27th to 15th.
Eric Curran continues to lead the SCCA SPEED GT Championship despite exiting the race early due to overheating issues, which was the result of some early race contact and damage to the nose of his Chevrolet Corvette. Curran now holds a five-point lead over Archer (84 to 79), Galati lies third with 75 points.
Chevrolet leads Cadillac in the SCCA SPEED GT Manufacturers’ Championship, 24 to 16. Dodge follows with 12 points, then Porsche with 9.
The SCCA SPEED GT race at Miller Motorsports Park will be broadcast on SPEED Saturday, May 26 at 1:00 p.m. (EDT).
Round Four of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED GT Championship heads to Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Thursday, May 24. The race will take place following NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying on CTC-Pole Night.
For all the latest news visit www.world-challenge.com.