Jason Daskalos, of Albuquerque, N.M., captured his first-career win Sunday in a thrilling Round Four SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship race Sunday, part of the Victoria Day Speedfest at Mosport International Raceway. Brandon Davis, of Huntington Beach, Calif., and Tony Rivera, of Missouri City, Texas, completed the podium.
Starting second in the No. 5 Daskalos Developments Dodge Viper, Daskalos got the holeshot on the standing start past first-starting Randy Pobst and led the entire 30-lap, 73.77-mile race, averaging a record 103.485 mph.
While race statistics will show that Daskalos led Davis the entire race, the battle in the top six was intense, with cars running bumper-to-bumper the entire race.
Daskalos captured his first-career win in his 22nd start, becoming the fourth different World Challenge GT winner in as many races this year. His previous best finish was fourth at New Jersey Motorsports Park in 2008.
“It’s amazing to win,” Daskalos said. “Honestly, it’s a dream come true. When I started out in World Challenge, in my rookie year, it was tough to even get into the top 10 and we worked hard and it’s paid off. I’m thrilled.
“On one lap in Turn Eight, I dropped a wheel and literally thought I hit oil because the car slid. I checked up a little bit to make sure the car was all right and that allowed Brandon [Davis] to close a little bit, but I was able to keep him behind me to the finish.”
Davis won the pole in his No. 10 Applied Computer Solutions/Sun Micro Ford Mustang Cobra, but lost the Fast Five Coin Toss, thus inverting the top five. On the standing start, he rocketed from fifth to second to affix his Mustang onto the back bumper of the Viper, a position he would maintain the rest of the race. The runner-up finish accompanies a trio of third-place finishes from the opening three rounds of 2009.
“We’ve worked real hard on our launch system,” Davis said. “The start wasn’t exactly what we wanted, being on the dirty side, but Randy [Pobst] had a problem and didn’t get away like I’d expected. I settled in behind Jason [Daskalos]. I tried to push him and push him, but I couldn’t do anything with him. I thought about it a lot and considered sticking the nose in somewhere on the last lap but didn’t have a good opportunity. It’s a good finish and good points.
“I feel good about the finishes this year. I’d like to be winning! We don’t race to finish second or third. I’d like to win one. It’s still early though. I don’t put too much stock in winning the Championship at this stage because I think I was at this point last year, too. It’s a long Championship and hopefully we can keep it together.”
Rivera struggled with his No. 97 Tax Masters/Mirage Group Porsche 911 GT3 Cup during qualifying, starting seventh. He was able to move to fourth at the start and advanced to third when Pobst’s No. 1 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60 developed a turbocharger wastegate problem and slowed on lap 25. It was Rivera’s second podium finish of the season after his win at Sebring.
“We’ve been struggling with our qualifying setup, being new to the series, but obviously we’ve been good on our race setups,” Rivera said. “I concentrated on the start and made sure I got it right and followed Brandon [Davis] as he punched his way through.
“I got a good run on Randy [Pobst] several times going to Turn Eight, but I wasn’t going to go in there as deep as he was. My car was getting a little light in the rear end under hard braking. I was thinking of some other places that I might have eventually gotten him for third, but then he had his problem.”
For advancing four positions during the race, Rivera captured the Sunoco Hard Charger award.
Andy Pilgrim started third in his No. 8 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60, but fell back at the start. He was part of the nose-to-tail battle all race long that saw the top six blanketed by less than two seconds for much of the run. He set the Débaufré Fastest Lap of the Race for the third-straight time with a time of 1:24.805 (104.385 mph) en route to a fourth-place finish.
Eric Curran tried for a third-straight Mosport win, but got away from the standing start slowly from fourth on the grid in his No. 30 Whelen Engineering Chevrolet Corvette. He battled back to finish fifth.
Dino Crescentini (Porsche 911 GT3), Sonny Whelen (Chevrolet Corvette), Pobst, James Sofronas (Porsche 911 GT3) and Gunter Schaldach (Dodge Viper) completed the top 10.
For his drive, Daskalos earned the AutoWeek Move of the Race.
Davis extended his point lead to 44, 415 to 371 over Rivera. Pilgrim sits third, with 368, followed by Sofronas (358) and Curran (314). Porsche maintains the Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by RACER Magazine lead, with 26 points over Ford (23), Volvo (15), and Chevrolet and Dodge (14 apiece).
Five different manufacturers finished in the top five, each turning a fastest race lap within one tenth of each other.
Today’s race will be broadcast Tuesday, July 7 at 2 p.m. (EDT) on SPEED. The series next travels to Watkins Glen International July 4.