Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis’ fourth win of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge season Friday at Circuit of the Americas has positioned them well for the GS class championship.
The drivers of the No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R moved into the lead on the second and last pit stop sequence just before the two-hour mark in the two-hour, 30-minute Round 9 of the season.
Davis ran the opening 46 minutes after starting fifth and got the car into podium position before handing off to Liddell.
Stevenson’s ace strategist Mike Johnson had called for a two-tire stop on the sequence, right side Continental Tires only, while Stevenson’s closest title contenders Rum Bum Racing had called for four on the No. 13 Porsche 911 driven by Hugh and Matt Plumb.
But with just over 35 minutes remaining, a seismic shift occurred in the GS title fight. Matt Plumb pulled off course at corner entry, driver’s right, at Turn 1, as the car lost a fan belt.
It resigned the brothers Plumb, who had entered the race just 10 points behind Liddell and Davis and had gained 14 points in the last two races, to a 14th place finish.
Unofficially, Liddell and Davis gain 18 points on the Plumbs and will lead them by 28 points, 286-258. A win nets 35 points but provided Liddell and Davis start the season finale and score points, they’ll clinch the GS title.
The race win was never in question after the pit stop, except for the final five minutes of the race when Billy Johnson in the polesitting No. 15 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Shelby GT350R-C caught Liddell and was just over one second back.
Johnson closed but was unable to pass Liddell for the lead. Johnson ended second in the car he shared with polesitter Scott Maxwell.
Doran Racing returned to the podium with BJ Zacharias and Brad Jaeger in third place in the No. 14 Nissan 370Z, a race after running out of fuel on the final lap at Virginia International Raceway.
In ST, Rennsport One’s pair of Spencer Pumpelly and Luis Rodriguez Jr. completed a largely untroubled race en route to their fourth win of the season in the No. 17 Porsche Cayman.
Pumpelly, like Liddell, took the lead just before the two-hour mark and held it through to the finish after Rodriguez started in ninth. He did not have any last lap fuel drama, as he had at Road America.
He did, however, have last lap “securing the win” drama in fending off Stevan McAleer for the win.
McAleer briefly got past at Turn 11 in the No. 5 CJ Wilson Racing Mazda MX-5 on the final lap, but Pumpelly got back past just moments thereafter on the backstraight.
Pumpelly held off McAleer’s final charge as McAleer and Chad McCumbee finished second. The CJWR pair have unofficially moved into the points lead by one, 241-240, over Andrew Carbonell, who finished fourth.
Split in-between the CJWR duo and Carbonell and Liam Dwyer, who shared the No. 26 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5, was Eric Foss and Jeff Mosing, who continued their recent run of podium finishes in third place in the No. 56 Murillo Racing Porsche Cayman.
The season concludes in two weeks time at Road Atlanta.
RESULTS: Round 9