BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Jade Buford capped off an almost perfect weekend with a victory in Saturday’s Round 6 GTS race at Barber Motorsports Park at the Grand Prix of Birmingham presented by Porsche, part of the 7th annual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. Parker Chase and Scott Dollahite finished second and third respectively.
When the lights went out for the standing start, pole sitter Buford, in the No. 45 Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4, stalled allowing the field to surge by. Second on the grid, Lawson Aschenbach, in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro Z28, drag raced into the lead with Dollahite, in the No. 46 SDR Motorsports Lotus Evora, slotting into second. Chase, in the No. 19 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta GT4, moved up into third from his sixth starting position.
With Buford momentarily unable to re-fire his machine, Race Control issued a full-course yellow. Before the field could come back around to the front straight, Buford was under way and pushed to catch up to the back of the field for the restart on lap 3.
On the restart, Aschenbach launched cleanly into the lead with Dollahite and Chase in pursuit.
By lap 7, Aschenbach held a 1.559 second lead over Dollahite with Scott Heckert, in the No. 54 SIN Cars/Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4, up to third and making a charge.
By lap 10, Heckert passed Dollahite for second through turn 8. While the drivers of the No. 54 and 46 machines battled for position, Aschenbach was able pull to out to 2.184 second lead. And by the next lap his lead was up to 2.438 seconds.
Farther back in the field an intense duel raged for 8th between Ernie Francis Jr., in the No. 98 Breathless Racing/Beta Tools/Liquid Performance Ford Mustang Boss 302, and Jack Roush Jr., in the No. 60 Roush Performance Ford Mustang Boss 302. The two Mustang drivers traded the position back and forth as the race continued.
By lap 14, Heckert started to reel in Aschenbach as the leaders caught the back of the field and made their way through traffic. Aschenbach’s lead was down to a .670 seconds. And by lap 18, Heckert had closed in on Aschenbach and down the back straight leading into turn 8 passed the driver of the No. 10 machine for the lead.
By lap 19, Heckert built a lead of 1.016 seconds over Aschenbach with Dollahite remaining in third 3.442 seconds behind the leader. Of note, Buford was on the charge and had worked his way through most of the 22-car field up into 5th.
By lap 23, Dollahite closed on Aschenbach for second while Chase pursued in 4th. On the same lap, Dollahite passed Aschenbach through turn 8 allowing Chase to close on the No. 10 machine, while Buford had now closed on the bumper of Chase’ No. 19 machine.
Buford then executed a deft pass of both Aschenbach and Chase down the front straight as the three when three wide. Buford squeezed through turn 1 and into third. He was awarded the Cadillac ATS-V Move of the Race for the pass.
Buford then set his sights on Dollahite for second and by lap 26 had closed on the Evora and executed the pass for position. Behind them Aschenbach and Chase battled for fourth.
On lap 27, drama ensued when leader Heckert spun through the esses in the turn 10/11 section of the track allowing Buford into the lead, with Dollahite into second. Chase, who had passed Aschenbach earlier in the lap, slotted into third. Heckert righted his machine and slotted back into 5th.
On lap 29, Chase had tracked down Dollahite and through turns 5 and 6 passed for second.
At the checkered, Buford completed the sweep of the weekend with an amazing last-to-first victory. Chase would finish 4.177 seconds behind the leader for second, with Dollahite 2.343 seconds behind Chase. Aschenbach and Heckert completed the top 5.
Of note, Tony Gaples, in the No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro, won the Optima Batteries Best Standing Start award for gaining five positions off of the start. Kevin Marshall, in the No. 44 VSA Motorsports Lotus GT4, was awarded the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger Award for gaining 10 positions during the race.
“The start was a rookie mistake on my part,” said Buford. “I really just psyched myself out with the standing start. I knew what to do and I had practiced numerous times. A thousand times in my head. Coming from IMSA, we only have rolling starts. I saw the lights go out and I said to myself to go. I just didn’t hear go in my head. I just made a rookie mistake and I’m sorry for the series and the other drivers. Luckily the SIN car is an amazing machine and the team gave me a strong car. I was able to keep the tires under me and stay patient as I was driving through the field. The car is as good as it can be right now. Scott (Heckert) looked like he lost it but I couldn’t really see what happened on his spin. I was trying to be as patient as possible as I was coming through the field. I just basically kept asking for
the gap to the leader and my pace. I just kept my head down and attempted to run the best laps I could. I kind of know how to pace myself with this new SIN car. But I could see how you could burn off the tires pretty easily with this car too. I knew everyone had their own battles in the field and everyone gave me a lot of respect today. I tried to give them that respect back too.”
“The Ginetta car was great today,” said Chase. “I got a good start from sixth and moved up initially. After the restart, I began charging and diced with Scott (Dollahite) for second at the end. It feels good to get close to the top spot. I was doing as much as I could to keep the car underneath me. Dollahite and I had a good battle today. It was really fun. I’m ready for the next race already.”
“We had a great start with the Lotus Evora,” said Dollahite. “The car was very consistent and hats off the team and the Evora guys. At the end, I saw Parker (Chase) coming up on us and I was able to play traffic a little bit at the three-quarter mark of the race. I just couldn’t hold him off at the end. That’s racing and we look forward to Canada (CTMP). The Lotus Evora is constantly under development and it is a new car to the series. But we are working to improve the car
each time out. We didn’t change much from Friday to Saturday. We will do some more development before the next race in Canada. But the Lotus Evora has been a great car so far for us.”
“I had a really good car at the start,” said Heckert. “I noticed the tires starting to give up a little bit in the middle of the race. I was trying to conserve a little at that point, but probably should have pushed a little harder. Then I wouldn’t have had to push so hard at the end. I was pushing hard as I was trying to get away from Jade. I had been catching a little of that curb (Turn 11) each time. It helped the car rotate. But that time I missed it and got six inches too much curb. That made the car come down pretty hard and rear end got free then. It’s very unfortunate. Those cars don’t like bouncing over curbs. The front tires were good but I was struggling for rear grip at that point. Overall it was a good weekend for me and obviously for Jade and the team. I look forward to going to Canada next (at CTMP).”
Results are provisional until posted final. With the 4th Aschenbach leads the GTS Driver’s Championship with 546 points. Chase sits second overall in the Championship with 518 points. Watch the CBS Sports Network broadcast from Barber Motorsports Park on May 7, 1 PM Eastern. GTS drivers now head north of the border to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada, May 19-22 for Rounds 7 and 8 of the Championship.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Results from Saturday, April 23, 2016 Pirelli World Challenge Championship GTS Race Round 6, at Barber Motorsports Park, and the Grand Prix of Birmingham presented by Porsche, part of the 7th annual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. Drivers listed by Position, Name, Hometown, Car, Laps
1. Jade Buford, Nashville, TN, SIN R1 GT4, 32
2. Parker Chase, New Braunfels TX, Ginetta GT4, 32
3. Scott Dollahite, Austin TX, Lotus Evora, 32
4. Lawson Aschenbach, Palm Beach Gardens FL, Chevrolet Camaro, 32
5. Scott Heckert, Ridgefield CT, SIN R1 GT4, 32
6. Harry Gottsacker, San Antonio TX, Ginetta GT4, 32
7. Mark Klenin, Lone Tree CO, MASERATI GranTurismo MC Trofeo, 32
8. Jack Roush Jr, Livonia MI, Ford Boss 302, 32
9. Kevin Marshall, Incline Village NV, Lotus GT4, 32
10. Ernie Francis Jr., Miami FL, Ford Mustang, 32
11. Brett Sandberg, Allendale NJ, KTM XBow GT4, 32
12. Nate Stacy, Owasso OK, Ford Boss 302, 32
13. Jeff Courtney, Milwaukee WI, MASERATI GranTurismo MC Trofeo, 32
14. Tony Gaples, Libertyville IL, Chevrolet Camaro, 32
15. Anthony Mantella, Toronto Canada, KTM XBow GT4, 32
16. Jason Alexandridis, Ashland OR, Aston Martin Vantage GT4, 31
17. Clint Guthrie, Birmingham AL, MASERATI GranTurismo MC Trofeo, 31
18. Alline Cipriani, Sao Paulo Brazil, Ginetta GT4, 31
19. John Allen, Denver CO, Porsche Cayman, 30
20. Dave Ricci, Palm Beach FL, Chevrolet Camaro, 28
21. Dore Chaponick Jr., Miami FL, KTM XBow GT4, 7
22. Martin Barkey, Huntsville Canada, KTM XBow GT4, 2