ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Aug. 10, 2008) – Tommy Archer, of Duluth, Minn., took his second-straight SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT win, his third of the season, at the Road America SPEED GT Presented by Remington Sunday. Eric Curran, of East Hampton, Mass., and Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., completed the top three.
Archer did not even expect to be behind the wheel of the No. 13 Foametix/Woodhouse Performance Dodge Viper this weekend, but when team owner Bob Woodhouse called last week to tell him the regularly-scheduled driver, Claudio Burtin, would not be available, Archer obliged to drive the car that carried him to wins at Miller Motorsports Park and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Archer started from the pole and got out to an early lead over Andy Pilgrim’s No. 8 Remington Shaving and Grooming Cadillac CTS-V, who started third. Second-starting Jason Daskalos’ No. 5 Daskalos Development & Investments Dodge Viper settled into third, ahead of Curran’s No. 30 Whelen Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette.
The four ran that way for the majority of the race, until Pilgrim’s motor expired in a fiery way entering Turn Five on lap 16. The entire field behind Archer tip-toed through the oil left from the motor, and several cars, including Daskalos and sixth-place Michael Galati’s Porsche, spun. Curran moved from fourth to second, and Pobst from fifth to third in the No. 1 K-PAX Porsche 911 GT-3.
Pilgrim’s exit brought out the final, race-ending caution. Officially, the 50-minute time limit expired to end the 18-lap, 72.864-mile race.
“I looked in my mirror and saw this ball of flame,” Archer said. “I didn’t know who it was at first. I saw Jason [Daskalos’] car go through my mirror. I looked back and said ‘not so good.’
“Trying to get a good start was my first thing, because I knew the Cadillac would be strong. We changed the car this morning. We tried to get it to go through a couple of the fast turns better and that worked great. It hurt me a little bit in the slow turns though. Andy [Pilgrim] could gather me up in a couple of slow turns, but I had him covered in the Carousel.”
Archer was happy to score another win for the Woodhouse Performance team, but admitted that his future for the remainder of the season is somewhat uncertain.
“I know I’m going to Mosport, but I think that’s the last one I’m supposed to do on my schedule,” he said. “Until last Friday night, I didn’t know I was going to be here. I think it’s great that I can help out when I can. The great thing for me is that Bob Woodhouse has tried so hard for so long to have a good team. It feels good to help him get there and show him that you can get to the next level with a little bit of work.”
Curran was relieved to return to the podium in the car that carried him to four wins in 2007, but has only been able to make the finish in one of the first five races.
“I feel bad for these Whelen Motorsports guys,” Curran said of his season thus far. “We’ve been working so hard and had an unbelievably up-and-down season last year. We worked really hard all winter to build a good car and did everything we thought we could do right. We started the year and it all went downhill from Sebring. We finished fourth at Watkins Glen, which wasn’t so bad. Here we are doing everything we can do to get this car reliable so we can finish and be competitive and we had a good car today.
“I didn’t quite have the car for Daskalos. I tried a number of times and I’m sure the video will show I used up all the road trying to get runs on him. I feel bad for Andy [Pilgrim] blowing up a motor, but it’s nice to be second. We were all tucked in pretty closed and then Andy blew up. There were flames and all sorts of things going on. Daskalos was right in his tracks and I was a little ways behind Daskalos. He came in flying sideways and I did too, but luckily I moved a little bit to the right and got up on the curbing where there wasn’t any oil. I got the car slowed down enough, took a real wide line and used a lot of the road. I think that getting off line and off the oil was the key to getting back on track.”
Despite feeling that the Porsche’s fought an up-hill battle all weekend at the fast Road America circuit, point leader Pobst not only found his way on to the podium after starting eighth, but extended his point lead after his main competitors, Pilgrim and Brandon Davis, fell out of the race.
“K-PAX/3R is such a good team,” Pobst said. “They build a car that stays together. I was running hard, but just couldn’t hang onto the big cars.
“The crazy change in the race was when Pilgrim blew his motor going into Turn Five. I think I was running about fifth and what saved us, is that I like to run straight over the hill going into Five and not hold right on the line. When Pilgrim blew up, the cars that were behind him were in his oil. It allowed me to see what was going on, keep it to the inside and stay on the track going through there. I almost hit Eric [Curran] going through there, but not quite. It was pretty cool.”
Davis was running in the top six most of the day in his No. 10 ACS/Sun Microsystems Ford Mustang Cobra, but on the race’s final restart, fell back and eventually wound up in the Turn Eight tires after contact with Rob Foster’s Viper. His car was too damaged to continue.
James Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., started 15th but worked his way up to finish fourth in the No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3. Brian Kubinski, of Shorewood, Ill., started fourth in his No. 12 Diamond Construction/CRP Chevrolet Corvette, but fell to as low as 15th before recovering to a fifth-place finish.
Michael McCann (Cadillac CTS-V), Foster, Jeff Courtney (Dodge Viper), Cindi Lux (Dodge Viper) and Stu Frederick (Dodge Viper) completed the top 10.
Courtney started 26th in his No. 99 KENDA/JTM/MPI Coin/Badger Dodge Viper after a mechanical failure in qualifying. He passed seven cars on the opening lap to capture the Racing Electronics Holeshot Award and 18 positions in the race to earn the Sunoco Hard Charger Award.
Pobst extended his point lead over Pilgrim to 68 (595 to 527). Davis remained third, with 484, followed by Galati (449) and Archer (448). Porsche maintained the Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by RACER lead 36 to 33 over Dodge, followed by Cadillac (30), Ford (28) and Chevrolet (11).
Sunday’s Road America SPEED GT Presented by Remington will be broadcast Wednesday, Aug. 20 at noon (EDT) on SPEED Channel. The series next travels to Mosport International Raceway for a race Saturday, Aug. 23.
For more information, please visit www.world-challenge.com.