In front of ecstatic friends and family, Huntington Beach driver Brandon Davis took his first SCCA SPEED GT win at his home race, the SCCA Pro Racing Long Beach SPEED GT Presented by Applied Computer Solutions. Point leader Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., and Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., finished second and third, respectively.
Starting from pole, Davis’ No. 10 ACS/Sun Microsystems Ford Mustang was beat off the standing start by Pobst who took the lead heading into Turn One. Pobst would run wide, however, handing the lead back to Davis, while his No. 1 K-PAX Racing Porsche 911 GT3 fell to sixth.
“On the start, I made a mistake and didn’t short-shift to second quickly enough,” Davis said. “I didn’t think I’d made that big of a mistake, but I saw Randy go on by me, so I just tucked in behind.”
“I got a really good start,” Pobst said. “With the rear engine, if you get it right, the thing will just launch. I felt like I was doing a wheelie. I managed to beat Brandon to Turn One and I went down to the inside. It was really dirty down there and I just looked in the mirror a little too long and when it was time to turn, I couldn’t. I just did touch the Toyota banners there and cars just kept going by me. My crew said ‘that was a rookie move’ and I said ‘yes it was!’
The race then went full-course yellow for the No. 17 LTI Contracting/Foster Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette of Rob Foster who was stalled on the grid. When the race restarted on lap five, Pobst immediately began to pick off the cars ahead of him with ease and was back into second place behind Davis on the same lap.
Davis was able to hold off Pobst through two more restarts from full-course yellows, before the fourth and final full-course yellow on lap 26, meant the 28-lap, 62.529-mile race would end under yellow. It was Davis’ second career-win, his first coming in SCCA SPEED Touring Car in 2006 at the Denver Grand Prix.
“I was not that great on restarts,” Davis said. “I always had someone, whether it was Andy or Randy, right on my bumper in one, so I stayed to the inside and was able to protect it. One thing I’ve learned from my dad’s experience here is that there is really an accordion effect in Turn One and into the fountain turn, so if you stay to the inside at one, it’s really hard for anyone to go by you, because even if you get through one faster, you can’t pass anyone going into the fountain turn because it’s one lane. That’s what I did on all the restarts too—stay to the inside.”
“It really feels amazing to win here. Before my dad even got into racing, when he was just a guy who liked cars, we would come out and watch Long Beach every year. Then, he started to run Trans-Am and started working with Boris [Said], we actually got the first win for the team here in Trans-Am. I was there for all of that and to be able to be the guy that gives the team a win at Long Beach is very special.”
Davis reset the Long Beach SPEED GT lap record en route to the win, lapping the 1.968-mile street circuit in 1:26.205 (82.185 mph).
Pobst took looks at Davis on three of the restarts, but was unable to make any real challenges on Davis.
“The first restart was purely dumb luck,” Pobst said. “I was behind the Viper and some other guys. Coming out of the hairpin it looked like everybody just went flat out coming out of the turn. It’s a pretty long way from the last turn to where the starter and the green acceleration cone are. So I’m on it. I’m running through the gears to catch up and meanwhile everyone up in front of the pack slows down. I’m up to about fourth or fifth gear and I hear on my radio ‘green’ and I’m like ‘yea, baby!’ I just pulled out and don’t think anybody was expecting it because nobody tried to block me. It was one, two, three, four going by. My teammate Mike Galati gave me some help in one and let me in.
“Andy was a little vulnerable on the restarts and the Porsche was just ready to go. On the long run, I think Andy had the strongest car. Brandon was doing everything right. He has a strong car, it’s a good package. I was just hoping it would break! On a long green, it would have probably come down to Andy harassing me and making it easier for Brandon. It didn’t work out that way.
“I’m happy to be second after all the drama.”
Other than getting passed by Pobst who was charging back from his wide run through Turn One on the opening lap, Pilgrim had a quiet race in his No. 8 Remington Shaving Cadillac CTS-V, starting and finishing third, but had a great view of the action ahead of him.
“I had the best seat in the house watching these two,” Pilgrim said. “At the beginning, Randy went wide in one and we got up to second. Our cars are really heavy and the first four or five laps are pretty rough, because we start with such low tire pressures. When we had the first restart, Randy got by me and I figured that if I could stay with him, we could have a race later.
“I could make some time in the longer runs, but I was really disappointed to see the yellows. I was trying to run a pace and they seemed to be coming back to me a little bit, but then we had the yellows.”
One of the fiercest battles of the race was between the No. 23 K-PAX Racing Porsche 911 GT3 of Michael Galati, from Olmstead, Ohio, and the No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3 of Newport Beach resident James Sofronas. Sofronas pulled alongside Galati on the back and front straights several times, but Galati was able to defend his fourth place until the end.
Jason Daskalos (Dodge Viper) and Brandon’s dad, Mike Davis (Ford Mustang) were waiting and watch the battle between Galati and Sofronas, but neither were able to capitalize. It was a career-best finish of sixth for Daskalos, followed by Mike Davis in seventh.
Reigning SCCA SPEED Touring Car Champion Jeff Altenburg finished eighth in a Dodge Viper and collected the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing eight positions during the race.
Cindi Lux (Dodge Viper) collected her first top-ten finish, crossing the line in ninth. Last year’s Sunoco Hard Charger, Jeff Courtney (Dodge Viper) was tenth.
Tim McKenzie earned the Racing Electronics Holeshot Award for picking up six positions on the first lap in his No. 66 TR Racing Porsche 911 GT3.
Pobst leaves Long Beach the point leader with 220 points. Brandon Davis now follows with 208 points. Pilgrim sits third with 198 points.
Porsche continues to lead the SCCA SPEED GT Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by RACER with 16 points over Cadillac’s 12.
The Long Beach SPEED GT Presented by Applied Computer Solutions race will air on SPEED Wednesday, April 30, at noon (EDT), 9 a.m. (PDT). Full results, race notes and photos from the weekend are available at www.world-challenge.com.
Round Three of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship will take place May 16 – 18 at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah.