Attrition marked Sunday's Pirelli World Challenge of Long Beach presented by StopTech and that attrition continued to post-race technical inspection. Brandon Davis grabbed the overall and GT class win. Paul Brown and Shea Holbrook earned the GTS and Touring Car class wins, respectively, after the first-place finishers on the track were disqualified during post-race technical inspection.
Davis, the 2009 Drivers' Champion making his first Pirelli World Challenge start since a podium finish a season ago at Long Beach, started second in the No. 10 ACS Express/Sun Micro Ford Mustang Cobra and battled with Jason Daskalos through the early part of the 31-lap race. On lap 10, Davis and Daskalos' No. 7 Dalsin Developments Dodge Viper went side by side through three consecutive corners before sneaking past Daskalos just before the final of the street circuit's 11 turns.
Once past Daskalos, Davis extended his lead to several seconds, patiently weaving through traffic in the 36-car race. With 10 laps to go, Davis was feeling the pressure from behind from James Sofronas' No. 14 GMG Porsche 911 GT3. Sofronas closed the lead to under a second, but couldn't finish the charge to Davis.
At the finish, Davis was 2.41sec ahead of Sofronas for his fifth-career World Challenge win. Davis covered the 31-lap, 61.008-mile race at 83.881mph.
"It was great,” Davis said. “I've tried so hard in the Mustang to run up there the last few years. One of the issues we've always had with the Mustang is it's been really hard on tires. It was one of those races that it just seemed like it was destiny. We started behind Pat Long and just assumed that we were going to be looking for who was coming from behind us because he had been so quick all weekend. Fortunately for us, he rolled on the start and went to the back.
“We started to see Sofronas coming late in the race and I didn't want to see him in the Porsche. We were luckily able to hold him off, we got some help in traffic. Just coming back to Long Beach and getting the win, we're very happy.”
Sofronas was hoping for a win at his hometown race, but earned his best finish at Long Beach since a win in 2009.
“What I didn't know was that Patrick Long got a stop and go for rolling on the start, so I thought I was just fighting for positions in the top three,” Sofronas said after the race. “I was picking off cars left and right in the braking zones.
“I had no radio contact with my crew chief, so I had no idea what position I was in, or where I had moved up to. As it turned out, I guess I was racing for the lead in the last half of the race and I had no idea. I thought I was chasing Brandon for second. If I had known, I don't think I would have driven it any differently. I was driving the wheels off of it. I was definitely letting it all hang out. The bottom line is that the car was great, the team was greater and the driver was just a small part of that result. I'm happy for the team.”
Daskalos moved from fourth on the grid to take the lead on the standing start, shooting past polesitter Patrick Long, in the No. 45 TruSpeed/Privacy Star Porsche 911 GT3. After falling back in his battle with Davis, Daskalos was overtaken by Sofronas for second on lap 18 and, with tires fading, found himself locked in a battle with Dino Crescentini and Mike Skeen for third position.
Both Crescentini and Skeen moved past Daskalos, but when Crescentini's No. 4 Centric Parts/StopTech Porsche 911 GT3 brushed the wall on lap 25 and Skeen's No. 2 CRP Racing/Cragar Wheels Corvette suffered mechanical damage on lap 28, Daskalos inherited third place and a podium finish.
Tony Gaples used the attrition to his advantage, making a steady climb from his 10th-place starting position to fourth at the checkered flag in his No. 11 Kleinschmidt/Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Corvette. It was the fourth top-five finish in 83 career World Challenge starts for Gaples.
Polesitter Long started to roll before the lights went out on the standing start, pausing to try to correct his mistake and opening the door for Daskalos' great jump. Long was given a stop-and-go penalty for jumping the start, which he served on lap five and fell from third to 12th after the penalty. By the finish, Long had worked back to fifth place.
Long still leads the Drivers' Championship after three rounds with 417 points. Sofronas sits second with 346, followed by Skeen (243), Gaples (237), and Daskalos (236). Porsche leads the Manufacturers' Championship with 27 points, followed by Cadillac and Volvo.
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