Spencer Pumpelly drove away after a late-race restart to win Sunday's Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, scoring his first victory of the season with Jim Norman in the No. 38 BGB Motorsports/Calcium Pro Porsche Carrera at the Continental Tire Sports Car Festival, powered by Mazda.
Bill Auberlen battled Pumpelly down the stretch, going side-by-side for the lead in the Corkscrew turn with three laps remaining. Shortly thereafter, the differential broke on Auberlen's No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 started by Paul Dalla Lana, giving Pumpelly – whose car started last in the 21-car GS field – a clear path to victory.
“We didn't want to see that last caution,” Pumpelly said after scoring his fourth career victory in the series. “Billy (Auberlen) was really strong. I raced him clean and gave him as much room as I could. We were running side-by-side. Then I saw him pull over in my mirror, and it was clear from there.”
Lined up sixth on the final restart, Matt Bell battled his way to second during the closing laps. He finished 4.446 seconds behind Pumpelly, keeping the title hopes alive for Bell and John Edwards in the No. 9 Stevenson Auto Group Chevrolet Camaro GS.R with only the Sept. 28 finale remaining at Lime Rock Park.
Matt Plumb and Nick Longhi entered the race with a commanding 51-point lead in the GS championship. However, a rock lodged inside the car and snapped the serpentine belt 30 minutes into the race, resulting in 15 lost laps for repairs. The drivers of the No. 13 Rum Bum Racing Porsche Carrera will go into the Lime Rock the finale with a 34-point lead in the GS championship – with 35 points awarded to the race winner.
Charles Espenlaub and Trent Hindman finished third in the No. 48 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3, followed by BJ Zacharias and Brad Jaeger in the No. 14 Doran Racing Nissan 370Z, and Joe Foster and Ian James in the No. 158 Dempsey/Miller Racing Ford Mustang Boss 302R.
The race was slowed by a lengthy caution at the 30-minute mark when Eric Curran lost the brakes in the No. 01 CKS Autosport Chevrolet Camaro GS.R and slammed into the tire barrier at the Corkscrew. He was uninjured in the incident. Cautions later in the race were for the pole-winning No. 7 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage of Brandon Davis, and the No. 61 Roush Performance Ford Mustang Boss 302R of Billy Johnson, with both cars sidelined by mechanical problems.
In the ST class, Andrew Carbonell passed Freedom Autosport teammate Tom Long on the backstretch in the final lap to win the first race of the season for the No. 26 SemperfiFund.org Mazda MX-5 started by Rhett O'Doski. Long co-drove with pole winner Derek Whitis in the team's No. 25 entry to finish second.
Terry Borcheller and Mike LaMarra finished third in the No. 23 Burton Racing BMW 128i, breaking a three-way tie for the ST lead. The pair now leads ninth-place finishing Ryan Eversley and Kyle Gimple in the No. 75 Compass360 Racing Honda Civic Si by eight points (242-234), with Tyler Cooke and Gregory Liefooghe taking fourth in the No. 81 BimmerWorld Racing BMW 328i to move to third in the championship, 18 points back.
The series will hold separate races to close the season at Lime Rock Park. The ST finale will be on Friday, Sept. 27, followed by the GS race on Saturday, Sept. 28.