Seth Thomas took advantage of a late-race caution period in Saturday's GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Street Tuner (ST) race to catch and pass Lawson Aschenbach, and he and Bill Heumann earned their first career victory in the No. 81 Performance Friction/Rays Engineering BMW 328i from the BimmerWorld/GearWrench team.
Thomas passed Aschenbach on Lap 134 of 139 in Turn 1, and went on to win by 0.408 seconds. Thomas made up his time when Andy Lally hit the tire barrier in Turn 2 with about 15 minutes remaining.
"I had to earn it from Lawson," said Thomas, who with Heumann closed to within three points (155-152) of Aschenbach and David Thilenius for the ST points lead. "The race-winning move came because of our brakes in Turn 1. I'm not sure if I could have caught him if it weren't for that last yellow, but regardless, we ended up winning."
Additionally, the victory boosted Heumann's lead in the MESCO Building For The Future Rookie of the Year points standings.
"I'm on top of the world," Heumann said. "For me, it's all about keeping the car clean and out of trouble, and preferably getting the car over to Seth near the front for him to do his thing. I gave him a car to drive, and he did it."
Aschenbach and Thilenius, in the No. 74 Skunk2/HPD Honda Civic Si, were in position for their second win of 2010, as both ran in the top five throughout their stint. However, the final caution proved to be the difference, Aschenbach said.
"That last caution really, really hurt us," said Aschenbach, who led a race-high 64 laps, all in succession, before the final pass for the lead. "We pulled out to a decent lead and I was just trying to hold on. When the caution came out, we knew the BimmerWorld guys would be tough. We did what we could, we got second, and scored some points."
Rounding out the top five: Compass360 Racing co-drivers Ryan Eversley and Zach Lutz in the No. 75 Skunk2/HPD Honda Civic Si; APR Motorsport co-drivers Kevin Stadtlander and Josh Hurley in the No. 181 APR/BBS Volkswagen GTI and Kinetic Motorsports co-drivers Adam Burrows and Trevor Hopwood in the No. 12 Infinity Audio/HD Radio Kia Forte Koup.
Polesitter Don Salama and Turner Motorsport team owner Will Turner finished sixth. Salama led the opening 33 laps, but contact with another car midway through the race forced bodywork damage and kept the team from challenging for the victory at the end.
The four caution periods resulted in an average speed of 84.496 mph.
The next event for the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge will be the Continental Tire 150 on Saturday, June 5, at Watkins Glen International.