16-YEAR-OLD NATE STACY SCORES 1ST PIRELLI WORLD CHALLENGE GTS VICTORY SATURDAY AT SONOMA RACEWAY WITH 15-YEAR-OLD PARKER CHASE RUNNER-UP, HUGH PLUMB TAKES 3RD
SONOMA, Calif. – Nate Stacy of Owasso, Okla., became the youngest GTS winner in the Pirelli World Challenge Saturday at Sonoma Raceway with a sensational driving exhibition in his No. 14 Roush Performance Ford Mustang Boss 302.
Stacy, 16, was the youngest PWC winner ever two years ago when he captured the TCB class at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park at the age of 14.
Parker Chase, 15, of New Braunsfels, Texas, made up one of the youngest 1-2 finishes in professional auto racing history with a second place finish in the Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta GT4, while pole winner Hugh Plumb of Unionville, Pa., rounded out the podium lineup Saturday in the No. 12 ANSA Motorsports KTM X-Bow GT4.
On Saturday, Stacy grabbed the lead from his second starting slot at the green flag and held off a variety of drivers in a wild, entertaining 50-minute sprint affair at the 2.38-mile, 12-turn permanent road circuit north of San Francisco. Stacy’s Ford took on a contingent of new GT4 machinery as some five different drivers fought the teenager for the lead in the 29-lap event, round 16 in the GTS category.
“It was a pretty wild race for me and I have to give thanks to the other drivers who gave me respect on the track today,” said Stacy. “This win is a very big accomplishment for me. I was trying to get that win all year and I thought I had one at St. Pete but, unfortunately, a tie rod snapped. Actually, at one point today, I was moving my rear-view mirror around in the car to see more things behind me. I knew there were a lot of different guys battling to get up to me. I felt like I was getting jumped by KTM X-Bows on several occasions.”
Chase started sixth and drove a smart race to second on the last lap as the teenager made one final attempt to pass Stacy for the win. However, Parker took his Ginetta GT4 machine too wide in turn nine and Stacy went on to a 1.87-second win.
“There was a sea of KTMs in front of me most of the day and I had a front row seat of all of the action,” Chase explained. “It was pretty chaotic at times. But a few of them got together as they were battling Nate (Stacy). I had a close call with (Brett) Sandberg and then I just started running down Nate. I was just hoping I could get by him at the end. It was a good points day for us and we will see how Sunday goes in the next GTS race. The Ginetta GT4 is a great car and you really don’t have to conserve the tires. The car is consistent throughout the whole race. Once I got into second place, I was just head-down and trying to catch Nate.”
“We had a few issues with the car early this weekend but the ANSA Motorsports guys did a great job getting everything right for me,” said Plumb, a former PWC race winner. “We had a good qualifying session with the pole position. Congrats to Nate and Parker. I wish I was doing what they are doing at 15 and 16 years old. I’m so happy to be back in World Challenge. They do an amazing job. It’s very professional and some great racing, too. We made adjustments with the car in qualifying but I think we over-adjusted for the race. So we’ll go back and look over things to change for Sunday’s race.”
Among the contenders for Stacy’s lead position were GTS point leader Brett Sandberg of Allendale, N.J., in the No. 13 ANZA Motorsports KTM X-Bow, Anthony Mantella of Toronto, Ont., Canada in the No. 8 Mantella Autosport KTM X-Bow, Martin Barkey of Huntsville, Ont., Canada in the No. 80 Sportlab Sawmill Creative KTM X-Bow, Chase and Plumb. However, Stacy drove a brilliant race in fighting off the challenges of his contenders and scored his first GTS win in Pirelli World Challenge.
Sandberg looked to ready to move to the top spot on lap 26 when the point leader made contact with another car and spun. The veteran sports car racer came back to seventh, just ahead of his points rival Lawson Aschenbach of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., in the No. 10 Black Dog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro. Aschenbach also had an eventful Saturday after participating in an earlier sports car race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. The four-time PWC series champion then caught a plane to Northern California to compete in the Sonoma Raceway contest. Due to no qualifications, Aschenbach had to start last in the 17-driver field but drove up to eighth after a battle as high as sixth Saturday.
Utah winner Scott Heckert of Ridgefield, Conn., rounded out the top-five Saturday in GTS at the wheel of the No. 54 Racer’s Edge Sin Car GT4 followed by veteran Kevin Marshall of Incline Village, Nev., in the No. 44 VSA Motorsports Lotus GT4.
Other race awards and recognitions were determined as follows:
The Optima Batteries Best Start award was issued to No. 29 Harry Gottsacker in the Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta GT4 for his two position gain at the start of the race.
The Cadillac Move of the Race was determined to be the sequence involving No. 19 Parker Chase moving by No. 80 Martin Barkey in the Mantella Autosport KTM X-Bow GT4 who in turn had moved by No. 13 Brett Sandberg in the ANSA Motorsports KTM X-Bow GT4 at Turn 7 on lap 14 of the race.
The KIA Turning Point was determined to be the contact between Barkey and Sandberg and the off-road move by Chase to avoid with 5 minutes remaining in the race.
The VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger award was given to No. 44 Kevin Marshall in the VSA Motorsports Lotus GT4 for his nine position gain through the session.
Round 17 of the GTS competition is set for Sunday at 10:15 am PDT as a preliminary event to Sonoma Raceway’s Verizon IndyCar Series season finale.