ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Andrew Aquilante, of Chester Springs, Pa., in the No. 32 Calvert Dynamics/PhoenixPerformance/Ford Mustang Boss 302 clinched his first career Pirelli World Challenge win in GTS Round 10 at the DeVILBISS Grand Prix at Road America presented by Cadillac. Ben Clucas of Northampton, England, finished second and Jack Baldwin, of Marietta, Ga., finished third.
From the standing start, Dean Martin, of Westland, Mich., who started second on the grid, got a great launch in his No. 50 Picture Cars East Ford Mustang Boss 302, and snared the lead from pole-sitter Aquilante going into turn 1. Clucas, piloting the No. 36 GTS DonorsChoose.org Kia Optima, was running third at that juncture, while Kurt Rezzetano, of Phoenixville, Pa., and Jack Roush Jr., of Livonia, Mich., battled side-by-side for fourth. Rezzetano, won the battle for fourth in his No. 37 Calvert Dynamics/PhoenixPerf/Ford Mustang Boss 302 ahead of Roush, in his ROUSH Performance Ford Mustang Boss 302. Rezzetano would then pass Clucas on lap 1 through turn 14. At the end of the first lap Martin lead Aquilante, Rezzetano Clucas and Roush Jr.
On lap 3, Aquilante grabbed the top slot over Martin in turn 1. Aquilante then built a .670 gap over Martin through turn 4.
On lap 5, a big slide by Martin through 14 after contact from Rezzetano, allowed Clucas through for second, with Martin now into third and Rezzetano fourth. Saturday’s Round 9 winner Lou Gigliotti, of Dallas, Texas, in the No. 28 LG Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage GT4 moved into fifth around Roush. Gigliotti would drop of the pace on lap 9 with a flat tire allowing Mark Wilkins, of Toronto, Ontario, in the No. 38 PutOnTheBrakes.Org and Baldwin to move past.
On lap 10, Aquilante led Clucas, Martin, Rezzetano, Wilkins, and Baldwin. By lap 12, Wilkins and Baldwin began closing in on Rezzetano for third and on lap 13 both Wilkins and Baldwin would pass the driver of the No. 37 Ford Mustang Boss 302 through turns 1 and 3.
Wilkins then closed in on Martin and on lap 14 passed him through turn 3. Baldwin would then close up on Martin and on lap 16 down the Moraine Sweep they would go side by side, with Martin holding onto the position.
On lap 17, Aquilante led Clucas and Wilkins with Baldwin finally getting by Martin for 4th through turn 6. Baldwin carried momentum and began closing up on Wilkins for 3rd on lap 19 and then on the second last lap of the race executed the pass for third.
Aquilante posted a 6.225-second margin of victory over Clucas. Provisionally, the victory gives Aquilante the GTS driver’s championship points lead.
“There was a lot of hard driving today. Some really great racing,” said Baldwin. “My hat is off to Mark Wilkins. That was a total, hard, clean battle. He might have had a little more car than me today. He was a little better than me in some places and I was a little better than him in places. It was fun racing him. The crew gave me a car as good as yesterday (Saturday) and maybe a little better. We started ninth and this is a tough crowd (field). I had no idea I was on the podium. I asked the crew how I finished and they said third. And I said ‘No. Seriously!’ That’s because Andrew (Aquilante) and Ben (Clucas) were so far ahead. I bet there was a lot of good racing up front but we had our hands full with the guys farther back.”
“I was running fourth early on and Kurt (Rezzetano) and Dean (Martin) were in front of me,” said Clucas. “So I just waited to see what happened. I was able to get both guys on the straightaway. Andrew was a bit of ahead of me at that point. But the DonorsChoose.org Kia Optima was handling fantastic and I thought maybe there was a chance to get up to him. But I wanted to manage the race a little since we struggle with fronts (tires) sometimes. I can push, push and push too much sometimes and the tires go away. Andrew had a bit more pace than we did today. So I decided to sit in second and get some good points. It’s a good way to start the second half of the season.”
“I was a bit nervous about the start. It is not usually my strong suit,” said Aquilante. “I talked before the race with Dean (Martin), Jack (Roush Jr.) and Kurt (Rezzetano) and our feeling was not to fight each other at the start. We knew that guys like Michael Cooper and Jack (Baldwin) were going to move up and challenge. And the Kias would be strong too. I settled behind Dean at the start and then Kurt made a challenge and I said I better go now. So I got past Dean and he started holding up Kurt and then I had a gap with Ben and I just managed the gap. I was hitting my marks and managed my tires real well too. On Saturday, we used the Pirellis up and I wasn’t able to hold Mark (Wilkins) off. I knew we had to be careful with the tires today. We made some changes with the Ford Mustang overnight and they worked beautifully. Hats off to the crew for that. It’s nice to take the point lead but we still have a long way too. We still have four weekends and eight races left in the series and a lot of things can happen. I think we’ll start focusing on the points later on in the season. The way the points are set up you cannot effort to relax. You have to keep pushing for a podium to stay up front.”
Of note, Rezzetano was awarded the Optima Batteries Best Standing Start Award for gaining two positions when the lights went out. Baldwin was awarded the Cadillac Move of the Race for his terrific move on Martin for fourth place. Also notable, Clucas clinched the Invisible Glass Clean Pass Award for taking the runner-up spot from Rezzetano.In addition, Andy Lee, of Colorado Springs, Colo., in the No. 20 BestIT Racing Chevrolet Camaro was awarded the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger Award for gaining seven positions during the race.
Additionally, Nick Mancuso, of Libertyville, IL, in the No. 46 Maserati Corse Maserati GranTurismo MC, had a great drive and finished 4th overall on the day as a non-points entry and as a pre-cursor to two cars expected to be entered at this year’s Pirelli World Challenge season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Sept. 11-13. Maserati entered two GranTursimo MC Trofeo cars in this weekend’s GTS category with American Mancuso driving the No. 46 car and Gianmarco Raimondo, of St. Catharines, Ontario, in the No. 47.
Results are provisional until posted final. GTS competitors now head to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course July 31-Aug. 2 for Rounds 11 and 12 of the Championships. Watch Rounds 9 and 10 from Road America on CBS Sports Network, Wednesday, July 8, at 9 p.m. Eastern.
ELKHART LAKE, WI – Results from Sunday’s 22 lap, 89.056 mile Pirelli World Challenge Championship GTS Round 10 race, part of the DeVILBISS Grand Prix at Road America presented by Cadillac, with finishing position, class, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, laps and reason out (if any).
1. GTS, (1), Andrew Aquilante, Chester Springs, Pa., Ford Mustang Boss 302, 22.
2. GTS, (4), Ben Clucas, Northampton England, , Kia Optima, 22, -6.225.
3. GTS, (9), Jack Baldwin, Marietta, Ga., Porsche Cayman, 22, -9.485.
4. GTS, (7), Mark Wilkins, Toronto, Ontario, KIA Optima, 22, -10.774.
5. GTS, (2), Dean Martin, Westland, Mich., Ford Mustang Boss302, 22, -18.549.
6. GTS, (12), Nick Esayian, San Diego, Calif., Aston Martin Vantage GT4, 22, -27.444.
7. GTS, (3), Jack Roush Jr, Livonia, Mich., Ford Mustang Boss302, 22, -27.539.
8. GTS, (17), Andy Lee, Colorado Springs, Colo., Chevrolet Camaro, 22, -37.974.
9. GTS, (8), Michael Cooper, Syosset, N.Y., Chevrolet Z28, 22, -39.944.
10. GTS, (13), Tony Gaples, Libertyville, Ill., Chevrolet Z28, 22, -59.092.
11. GTS, (5), Kurt Rezzetano, Phoenixville, Pa., Ford Mustang Boss 302, 22, -1:09.462.
12. GTS, (16), Nathan Stacy, Owasso, Okla., Ford Mustang Boss302, 22, -1:15.283.
13. GTS, (15), Preston Calvert(R), Potomac, Md., Ford Mustang Boss 302, 22, -1:32.692.
14. GTS, (18), Buz McCall, Boca Raton, Fla., Porsche Cayman, 21, -1 lap.
15. GTS, (14), Mark Klenin, Lone Tree, Colo., Aston Martin Vantage GT4, 11, Mech.
16. GTS, (6), Lou Gigliotti, Dallas, Texas, Aston Martin Vantage GT4, 11, Mech.
17. GTS, (11), Dan Martinson(R), Medina, Minn., Ford Mustang Boss302, 7, Mech.
18. GTS, (10), Joey Atterbury, Virginia Beach, Va., Ford MustangBoss302, 4, Mech.
19. GTS, (19), John Allen(R), Aurora, Colo., Porsche Cayman, 0, DNS.
20. GTS, (20), Nick Mancuso, Libertyville, Ill., Maserati GrandTursimo MC, 22, -16.123.
21. GTS, (21), Gianmarco Raimondo, St Catharines, Ontario, Maserati GrandTurismo MC, 6, Mech.
Time of race: 51 minutes, 37.627 seconds.
Average speed: 103.499 mph
Margin of victory: 6.225 Seconds
Lap leaders: Laps 1-3, #50 Dean Martin; laps 4-22, #32 Andrew Aquilante
Fastest race lap: #28 Lou Gigliotti, 2:19.344 (104.581 mph)
Fastest qualifier: #32 Andrew Aquilante, 2:20.417 (103.782 mph)