Dino Crescentini, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., captured his first SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship win since 2005 on Saturday, holding off Eric Curran, of Easthampton, Mass., at the finish of the Toyo Tires Watkins Glen Grand Prix Presented by Lala Motorsports. James Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., finished third in the event, part of the Camping World Grand Prix Weekend at Watkins Glen International.
Starting second in the No. 4 Stoptech/GMG Porsche 911 GT3, Crescentini got the jump on first starting Jason Daskalos’ No. 5 Daskalos Developments Dodge Viper, but not as good as teammate Sofronas, who moved his No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3 to the lead from third on the grid.
Sofronas led Crescentini for the opening four laps before Crescentini put the No. 4 car out front on lap five, outbraking his teammate going into the Inner Loop—a move that earned him the AutoWeek Move of the Race. From there, Crescentini held ground and gradually pulled away as Curran and Sofronas traded second place, turning the Débaufré Fastest Lap of the race with a 1:55.347 (106.114 mph).
Curran finally took the runner-up spot for good in his No. 30 Whelen Engineering Chevrolet Corvette on lap 15 and set his sights on the leader. In the final three laps of the 22-lap, 74.8-mile race, he knocked two seconds off the lead and came up just 0.255-second short at the finish line.
It was Crescentini’s second-career win coming a day after his 49th birthday. He last won a World Challenge GT race at Portland International Raceway in 2005—his debut start. Crescentini became the sixth different winner in six races this year.
“I’m always worried about [Eric] Curran,” Crescentini said. “Curran is the guy you worry about. The guy is an amazing driver and super aggressive. You can learn a lot from him. It feels really rewarding to beat him once. I love it!
“I have to credit my team and especially Steve Ruiz. The car was nothing last year until he came on board. He was everything to me. He gave me the car and all I had to do was drive it. I think my car was slightly better than James’ [Sofronas] today. We each have our days and I think I just had a bit of an edge on the setup this weekend.”
Curran qualified second, but started fourth after the top five were inverted when pole winner Brandon Davis lost the post-qualifying coin toss. The second-place finish equaled his best finish of 2009, at the season opening round at Sebring International Raceway.
“It was tough,” Curran said. “James [Sofronas] and I had a really great race. We raced each other clean. I feel a little bad because I got into him [in Turn Eight]. We were racing so close and I went in real deep and he turned in and I just nudged him. I didn’t mean to push him out of the way, but I did. That’s not the way I want to get by somebody, but that’s good, close racing. I got away after that. The Whelen Corvette was running really great and I’m very happy.”
Curran earned the Sunoco Hard Charger award for advancing from fourth to second.
Sofronas became a father for the first time on Tuesday and missed Thursday’s opening practice session. It didn’t seem to matter, though, and the Global Motorsports Group owner was beaming after his cars finished first and third.
“It was a great battle,” Sofronas said. “I had great Stoptech brakes. He had a little on me in the Esses, but in the tight stuff the Porsche was stuck. I got a little nudge there in the Heel. We’ll have to check out the video, but that’s just racing. He owes me one, but you know what, we both raced hard and it was pretty clean. We ran really strong together side-by-side.
“I was just smiling the whole time. No matter what I knew Dino was ahead of us and that’s a victory for GMG and Stoptech. Plus, I have my beautiful wife, Nargis, and my baby girl, Chloe, waiting for me at home. I’m full of emotion – I can’t wait to go home and this is a great way to start the weekend off, to be on the podium and congratulating my teammate Dino.”
Davis ran fourth for much of the race in his No. 10 Applied Computer Solutions Ford Mustang, but broke a throttle cable on the last lap, dropping him to eighth with partial power. That advanced Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., to fourth in his No. 1 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60. Pobst’s teammate, Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., ran eighth much of the race, but was able to move up to fifth at the finish in his No. 8 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60.
Daskalos’ day went much different than at the most recent race at Mosport, where he started up front with the inversion and carried that spot to victory. Daskalos ran sixth for much of the race, and finished seventh, holding off Tony Rivera’s Porsche 911 GT3 at the finish line.
Davis, Gunter Schaldach (Dodge Viper) and Sonny Whelen (Chevrolet Corvette) completed the top 10.
Davis maintained the point lead halfway through the 10-race season, with 498 points. Sofronas and Pilgrim moved past Rivera, with 464, 448 and 443, respectively. Curran is fifth, with 426. Porsche extended its Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by RACER Magazine lead, with 35, to Ford’s 24, followed by Chevrolet (21), Volvo (18) and Dodge (15).
Today’s race will be broadcast Tuesday, July 22 at 2 p.m. (EDT). The SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship next travels to Autobahn Country Club for Round Seven, July 24-26.
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. - Results from Saturday's 22-lap, 74.8-mile SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship Round Six race, the Toyo Tires Watkins Glen Grand Prix Presented by Lala Motorsports at Watkins Glen International, with finishing position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, laps complete, distance behind winner and reason out (if any).
1. (2), Dino Crescentini, Manhattan Beach, Calif., Porsche 911 GT3, 22.
2. (4), Eric Curran, Easthampton, Mass., Chevrolet Corvette, 22, -.255.
3. (3), James Sofronas, Newport Beach, Calif., Porsche 911 GT3, 22, -1.991.
4. (6), Randy Pobst, Gainesville, Ga., Volvo S60, 22, -4.273.
5. (7), Andy Pilgrim, Boca Raton, Fla., Volvo S60, 22, -20.142.
6. (1), Jason Daskalos, Albuquerque, N.M., Dodge Viper, 22, -21.597.
7. (9), Tony Rivera, Missouri City, Texas, Porsche 911 GT3, 22, -21.701.
8. (5), Brandon Davis, Huntington Beach, Calif., Ford Mustang Cobra, 22, -31.536.
9. (10), Gunter Schaldach, Aspen, Colo., Dodge Viper, 22, -1:02.887.
10. (8), Sonny Whelen, Old Saybrook, Conn., Chevrolet Corvette, 2, Mech.
11. (11), William Ziegler(R), Jacksonville, Fla., Dodge Viper, 1, Withdrawn.
Time of race: 42 minutes, 47.560 seconds.
Average speed: 104.877 mph
Margin of victory: 0.255-Second, Record
Lap leaders: Laps 1-4, #14 James Sofronas; laps 5-22, #4 Dino Crescentini
Débaufré Fastest Race lap: #4 Dino Crescentini, 1:55.347 (106.114 mph)
Fastest qualifier: #10 Brandon Davis, 1:55.463 (106.008 mph)
Sunoco Hard Charger: #30 Eric Curran
AutoWeek Move of the Race: #4 Dino Crescentini
SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Drivers’ Championship
After Five of 10 Rounds
Pos., Driver, Car, Points (wins)
1, Brandon Davis, Ford Mustang Cobra, 498
2, James Sofronas, Porsche 911 GT3, 464 (1)
3, Andy Pilgrim, Volvo S60, 448 (1)
4, Tony Rivera, Porsche 911 GT3, 443 (1)
5, Eric Curran, Chevrolet Corvette, 426
6, Randy Pobst, Volvo S60, 351
7, Jason Daskalos, Dodge Viper, 322 (1)
8, Sonny Whelen, Chevrolet Corvette, 288
9, William Ziegler(R), Dodge Viper, 287
10, Tony Gaples, Chevrolet Corvette, 275
SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by RACER Magazine
After Five of 10 Rounds
Pos., Driver, Car, Points (wins)
1, Porsche, 35 (3)
2, Ford, 24
3, Chevrolet, 21
4, Volvo, 18 (1)
5, Dodge, 15 (1)