Lexington, Ohio – Lawson Aschenbach won in GTS Round 13 at the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio presented by Honda Racing HPD. Nate Stacy, tying his second best career finish, finished second from a seventh place qualifying position while top qualifier Brett Sandberg rounded up the podium at third.
The single GTS race of the weekend opened with a standing start and Sandberg, in the No. 13 ANSA Motorsports/KTM XBow GT4, sitting in pole posititon. Jade Buford (No. 45 SIN Cars/Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4), Lawson Aschenbach (No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro), and Jeff Courtney (No. 99 RecStuff.com/Kenda/TBA Maserati GranTurismo MC Trofeo) started from P2 through P4, respectively. A slow launch from Sandberg allowed Aschenbach to pass before the first turn while contact between Buford and Courtney drew a yellow flag as both cars left the track.
The lap three restart found Aschenbach, Martin Barkey (No. 80 Mantella Autosport KTM XBow GT4), Stacy (No. 14 Roush Performance Road Racing Ford Mustang Boss 302), and Sandberg holding the top four positions.
By lap four, Stacy had maximized the advantage of the previous yellow flag condition and had moved up one position from his third-place restart and five positions from his seventh place starting position into second place, just behind Aschenbach.
An incident during lap six brought the full-course yellow flag out again, effectively closing the leads developed from the previous yellow flag condition. Upon the return to green flag conditions in lap eleven, Stacy continued to challenge Aschenbach for the lead while a battle for third developed among Jack Roush, Jr., in his No. 60 Roush Performance Road Racing Ford Mustang Boss 302, Scott Dollahite in the No. 46 SDR Motorsports Lotus Evora, Tony Gaples in the No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevolet Camaro Z28, Barkey and Sandberg.
During lap fourteen, Barkey ran off-line and dropped from fifth to twelfth position and out of the third-place battle, while Scott Heckert, driving the No. 16 Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4, managed to resurrect a last-place qualifying position into a competitive aim at the third-place finish.
After quite a few laps of Roush, Jr., holding off Sandberg for the third place spot, Sandberg was finally able to take an inside line on turn nine of lap 22 to capture third place.
Shortly after, Heckert was able to take Roush, Jr., and position himself for third place contention with Sandberg, but ran out of time as the checkered flag dropped, stopping his charge from last qualifying position at fourth place.
“The starts have been the story of the year for us,” Aschenbach explained. “If we don’t start well, we can’t get the lead. We are down on straight line speed so it is very difficult to pass. I’m not going to lie. I got fortunate today with the front row having trouble off the line. I don’t know how much room was between each car but I somehow figured out how to put a big ole’ Camaro in that spot and take the lead. It’s a lot easier to control the race from the lead than from behind.” Aschenbach also remarked, “I was surprised about the pressure from Nate (Stacy). He was throwing down some mega laps today. Our strength is cornering with the Camaro. We know have to a lead and manage our tires. Then hope no one can catch us. I was flat out the whole time today. There was no managing the tires. Nate was very fast and I needed to hold the lead. For the last couple of races, we have struggled. Road America was a huge hit to our championship run. This team fights back and we found some stuff this weekend to help us in the future too. The big thing here with the big heavy car is patience. I have driven open-wheel cars and many different sports cars here. It’s a constant battle of dealing with weight and corner speed. We have to pick our placement in each corner. We set our car up with quite a bit of understeer to save the tires too.”
“I got a good start and it looked like I had chance to get by Lawson (Aschenbach) for the lead on the back straight,” said Stacy, “but he had the inside and the braking point too. That was probably the closest we were going to get to passing up. Luckily Jack (Roush Jr.) held up (Brett) Sandberg for a long time too. This is my fourth race at Mid-Ohio and it’s a great race track. Very fun. We had a bit of speed on Lawson on the straightaways and he had us on the straightaways. He was able to pull away a bit late in the race. But overall it was a very good race for our team.”
On his mis-start from pole position, Sandberg surmised, “I don’t know if it was the reflection of the sun on the light board but I couldn’t see the first light. I never saw the initial set of lights come on and I was late when the second set lit. So I was sitting there waiting when everyone took off. Jade (Buford) might have done the same thing, because he didn’t go either. And he got collected at the start (with Jeff Courtney). I fell back dramatically and had to work my way back into contention. I had a good race with Jack (Roush Jr.) for third and I think his tires might have worn a little more with the bigger car. I was able to get into third at that point. I knew I needed to get by him between turns four and twelve. Luckily I was able to and get back on the podium.”
This is Aschenbach’s fourth win of the season. Watch extended coverage of this weekend’s GTS race on CBS Sports Network, premiering on Thursday, August 11th at 10p.m. Eastern or catch the archived Live Stream beginning August 14th on MotorTrendOnDemand.com. With the postponed GTS race added to the season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, GTS competitors next hit the track at Utah Motorsports Park on August 12th for Rounds 14 and 15. Results and points are provisional until posted Final.
Of note…. Roush Jr. was the winner of the Optima Batteries Best Start Award, gaining six positions at the start, while Stacy won the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger Award by advancing five spots Saturday. Sandberg’s pass of Roush Jr. for third place on lap 23 was voted the Cadillac ATS-V Best Move of the Race while the KIA Turning Point of the Race was the contact between Courtney and Buford on lap one. Heckert recorded the best lap of the race with a 1:28.071 and also collected the MotorTrendOnDemand.com Clean Pass with the turn five pass of Jason Alexandridis.
RC – Results from Saturday, July 30, 2016 Pirelli World Challenge Championship GTS Round 13, part of the Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio presented by Honda Racing HPD. All results are provisional until posted Final.
Position, Name, Hometown, Car, and No. of Laps Completed
1. Lawson Aschenbach, Palm Beach Gardens FL, Chevrolet Camaro, 29
2. Nate Stacy, Owasso OK, Ford Boss 302, 29
3. Brett Sandberg, Allendale NJ, KTM XBow GT4, 29
4. Scott Heckert, Ridgefield CT, SIN R1 GT4, 29
5. Jack Roush Jr, Livonia MI, Ford Boss 302, 29
6. Harry Gottsacker, San Antonio TX, Ginetta GT4, 29
7. Scott Dollahite, Austin TX, Lotus Evora, 29
8. Tony Gaples, Libertyville IL, Chevrolet Camaro, 29
9. Anthony Mantella, Toronto ON, KTM XBow GT4, 29
10. Martin Barkey, Huntsville QC, KTM XBow GT4, 29
11. Jason Alexandridis, Novato CA, Aston Martin Vantage GT4, 29
12. Parker Chase, New Braunfels TX, Ginetta GT4, 29
13. Bill Ziegler, Ponte Vedra FL, KTM XBow GT4, 29
14. Mark Klenin, Lone Tree CO, MASERATI GranTurismo MC Trofeo, 5
15. Jade Buford, Brentwood TN, SIN R1 GT4, 0
16. Jeff Courtney, Milwaukee WI, MASERATI GranTurismo MC Trofeo, 0