Cunningham started from his fourth-consecutive GTS class pole position in the No. 42 Acura/HPD/RealTime Racing Acura TSX, but saw Jack Baldwin's No. 68 Voodoo Ride-Invoice Prep/Hot Wheels Porsche Cayman S get the jump from the second starting spot. It wasn't long, though before Cunningham made the Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the Race to put his Acura back up front, a position he held from lap two until the finish to capture the first win of the new V-6 powered Acura in Pirelli World Challenge GTS competition.
“I was pleased we had such good speed at the start,” Cunningham said. “We were able to get a good run out of six. We went side by side up the hill and we touched a little, but we ended up in the lead there. From there, it was a controlled pace for a while. I could do my laps and still be nice to the tires. Then those two yellows, of course, we've been there before so we know what can happen. The first restart was great, and I had a good advantage after the first lap. Of course, then the yellow came out again. After the second restart, Jack was coming and he was doing a great job and pressuring pretty hard and I managed to just stay ahead of him to the checker.”
With the win, and coupled with the retirement of pre-race point leader Justin Bell, Cunningham took over the Championship point lead, with 602 to Baldwin's 552. Bell was running in the top five in his No. 50 eBay Motors Ford Mustang Boss 302S but was involved in a heavy incident coming out of the last corner with Touring Car polesitter Tristan Herbert's No. 33 HPA/RennGruppe/Brimtek/SG Racing Volkswagen Jetta GLI, which brought out the race's final caution on lap 21. Neither driver was injured.
“When I came around and saw Justin in the wall, that was awful,” Cunningham said. “Justin is a good friend, and you don't want to get points because the friend was in the wall so that's a bummer for that team. We've had our days, too, so it was a good day points wise for RealTime and Acura and for the drivers points. We're proud to get these points and carry on now to Detroit.”
Cunningham also set a new track record for GTS during the race, with a fastest time of 1:34.137 (85.585mph).
Aaron Povoledo finished third in the No. 26 CapaldiRacing.com Ford Mustang Boss 302S, passing the No. 34 Acura/HPD/RealTime Racing Acura TSX of Nick Esayian on the final lap of the race. Andy Lee brought the No. 20 Best IT Chevrolet Camaro home fifth.
Lee now sits fourth in GTS points with 502, 24 behind Bell. Michael Galati finished sixth in his Kia Optima and sits fifth in points, with 391.
Acura took over the Manufacturers Championship lead, with 32 points to Ford's 31, Chevrolet's 20 and Kia's 13.
Touring Car had the biggest shakeup in its race, both from the starting grid and related to the Championship.
Herbert started from the pole, but was jumped by the Honda Civics of Compass360 teammates Todd Lamb (No. 71 National Karting News/HPD) and Ryan Winchester (No. 72 Ligon Industries/HPD) at the start. Point leader Michael Cooper, who started fifth in his No. 03 Mazdaspeed Motorsports MAZDASPEED3 had contact off the start and immediately had a flat tire, necessitating a trip to the pit lane, dropping him to last.
Lamb led the entire way, but had to deal with a charging Jeff Altenburg, of Ellicott City, Md., in his No. 43 HPA/RennGruppe Brimtek/SG Racing Volkswagen Jetta GLI in the race's closing laps. Their battle was broken off in the end by a slower GTS car that separated the two and allowed Lamb to open up more of a gap to the checkered flag.
“Toward the end, we got a couple of yellows and bunched up the field a little bit,” Lamb said. “I tried to conserve the car for the first part of the race knowing that, toward the end, we'd definitely be getting a yellow and there would be a battle. We've struggled against the turbos all season, so we knew they were probably going to conserve tires and come on strong at the end. It was a shame to see Tristan get taken out there, but at the same time we're here to get some points. I had a pretty good battle with Altenburg there at the end, we raced nice and clean but I definitely had to be defensive and hold him off. It was tough.”
It was Lamb's second Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car win of his rookie season, and the former SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup Champion took the point lead over that series' defending Champion Cooper, 771 to 755.
“It was a great points day,” Lamb added. “It's nice to win races, but we're here to win the Championship for Honda. A huge step in the right direction today, so we should be close to leading the points.”
Altenburg scored his best finish of the year at a track that he has twice won previously.
Winchester finished third, his fourth-consecutive podium result.
Patrick Seguin brought his No. 80 Theberge Homes/capsparts.com Volkswagen GTI home fourth, followed by Shea Holbrook's No. 67 TrueCar.com Honda Civic Si. Cooper salvaged a sixth-place finish after his pit stop.
Winchester's recent consistency has him third in points, with 558, followed by Herbert (511) and Gustavo Michelsen (472).
Honda leads the Touring Car Manufacturers' Championship, with 48 points, to Mazda's 35. Volkswagen is third, with 26.
• Friday's race will be broadcast Sunday, May 27 at 11 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.
• The series next travels to Detroit for the Cadillac V-Series Challenge at Belle Isle, part of the IZOD IndyCar weekend, June 1-3.