Spirit of Daytona car claims win at Mid-Ohio
By ROB HAMILTON -
The Spirit of Daytona Racing car driven by Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante claimed the checkered flag on Saturday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course’s EMCO Gears Classic Rolex Sports Car Series race.
The duo led 87 of the 111 laps that composed the two-hour-45-minute event. After the car of Jon Fogerty and Alex Gurney led the first 17 laps, Valiante took the lead and held it until the 40th lap.
While the car of Alex Popow and Lucas Luhr took the lead twice for brief periods of time over the remainder of the race, Westbrook held it for the lion’s share of the laps — including the final 34.
The Spirit of Daytona car finished .236 seconds in front of the one driven by Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas. Terry Borcheller and David Donohue took third place overall. Also, the Popow/Luhr car placed fourth and the Fogarty/Gurney vehicle wound up in seventh place.
The top eight cars in the race were all Daytona Prototypes. The top Grand Touring finisher was the ninth-place team of Bill Auberlen, Paul Dalla Lana and Billy Johnson.
While they only led 35 of the race’s 106 laps, Auberlain held the top position in his class for the final 25 laps of the race. There were a total of 10 lead changes in this event, as opposed to five in the DP race.
Emil Assentato and Jeff Segal finished second in the GT competition (10th overall) and the duo of Robin Liddell and John Edwards took third (11th).
The EMCO Gears Classic was one of two long races to be held on Saturday, as the two-hour-30-minute Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge was held earlier in the afternoon.
In the 62-car race, Billy Johnson and Jack Roush Jr. claimed first place; both overall and in the Grand Sport class. The race lasted for 75 laps with 39 vehicles finishing on the lead lap.
Second place went to the duo of Lauson Aschenbach and Eric Curran; while third went to Matt Plumb and Nick Longhi.
Taking the top place in the Street Tuner class was the team of Chad Gilsinger and Michael Valiante. They took 13th place overall.
They were followed by brothers Mark and Mat Pombo and then Andrew Novich and Adam Burrow. Those two teams finished 14th and 15th overall, respectively.
There also were a handful of support races during the weekend, including the Mazda MX-5 Cup event Sunday.
In this 22-car race, Stevan McAleer won by nearly four-tenths of a second over John Dean, while Nathanial Sparks finished third.
This race lasted for 27 laps and all but one driver finished on the lead lap.
More pictures from this event are on page 12-B.