Grand Survives Downpour for Second-Straight T2 Title

Grand splashes to the T2 win (Bonvouloir Image)

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Marty Grand, of Manassas Park, Va., captured his second-consecutive Touring Two title in a downpour at the 48th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America. Chad Gilsinger, of Marysville, Ohio, and Alan Kossof, of Wheeling, Ill., completed the podium after many of the competitors crashed on the final lap.

The course was damp but drying at the start of the Black Magic Touring 2 race scheduled for 13 laps around the four-mile circuit. Gumout polesitter Andrew Aquilante battled intensely with Grand in his No. 32 Phoenix/Hoosier/Hawk Ford Mustang GT in the opening laps. Grand’s No. 43 AMS Performance/TRE/Hoosier/Carbotech Mitsubishi Evo IX had the advantage of all-wheel drive, while Aquilante’s Mustang had the power down the straights.

On lap six, Aquilante had pulled out a gap, and Grand fell into the grips of second-starting Tony Rivera’s No. 11 Brass Monkey Racing/Nissan/Hoosier Nissan 370Z NISMO and Jay Patel’s fourth-starting No. 12 Fall-Line/Porsche Exchange/Weathertech Porsche 996. Grand started the race on wet tires, while the others at the front of the grid were on dries.

By lap seven, rain began to fall. Mark Boden, who changed cars and started 25th in the No. 78 Fall-Line Motorsports Porsche 996 worked his way through the slippery conditions up to third, behind Aquilante and Rivera. The rain helped Grand’s resurgence, and as it began to pour and puddle, he and Boden worked past Rivera. On lap 10, Boden slid off course multiple times, and Aquilante, ahead by 12 seconds at one point, spun in turn 12 and brushed the wall.

Aquilante pitted with damage, promoting Grand to the lead and Rivera to second. Rivera skidded off, through the turn three gravel and into the tires, and was later joined by the cars of Jason Ott, Kris Von Sydow and David Muramoto. The mess brought out a full course caution and race control elected to checker the race three laps early due to the treacherous conditions.

Under caution, Grand won with a margin of victory of 1:35.754 over Gilsinger, averaging 79.614 mph.

“We watched radar so much that my buddy’s probably sick of hearing ‘What’s it say now, what’s it say now?’ And you still don’t know,” Grand said of the tire choice before the race. “It didn’t look like it was going to rain there for a while. We were guessing right up to literally the last minute, and I had to rush to get on the grid because we were trying to decide what tire to use. We guessed right and went with the Hoosier rains, and that worked out. At first the track was half wet, half dry, so Andrew and I had a great battle back and forth. Then it started drying up and I went back a little bit.

“I said to my crew, I could really use some rain right now. About that time, it started raining. So I was just trying to be patient and let the track come back to me. It feels great to get the second win in a row.”

Gilsinger, the 2010 Touring 3 National Champion, started 15th in his No. 07 BFG/HPD/H&R/Recaro/BRM Acura TX-SH AWD and survived the conditions to finish second.

“When we started the race, we went out on slicks,” Gilsinger said. “I ran the T3 race yesterday, and we had similar conditions at the beginning. We went out on rains for that race and it was the wrong call. We decided to go out on slicks, and knowing we had the all wheel drive gave a little bit more comfort.

“At the beginning, it was wet enough to where I was able to take advantage. Then it started to dry out a little bit, and our power to weight is not quite there. So we started to move a little backwards when it was drying out. I saw the rain drops on the windshield and started to get a little bit excited again, but then it downpoured and there were puddles everywhere, and that’s when it got bad for everyone. You have to work really hard to keep it on the track in those conditions.

“Turn 3 and between the Kink and Canada Corner, there was just standing water in a lot of places. Under acceleration, braking, it didn’t matter, you had no control. Especially people on slicks. There was zero grip. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see the checkered flag.”

Kossoff was running 10th in his No. 2 Kossof Motorsports BMW M3 when the rain came, and gained several positions each lap as cars slid off or pitted to score his first Runoffs podium finish. His previous best was an eighth in 2009.

“When we were sent out off the grid, going into turn three as I was scrubbing in my tires I blew my power steering,” Kossof said. “I’m glad I hired a trainer about a year ago, it was really difficult to control the M3. I was trying to get myself acclimated with different inputs around the track dealing with the wet conditions. As the race went along, I just concentrated on driving the rain line. There was a tremendous amount of grip in the Carousel and I think that helped me a lot on the outside. For some reason my car handled very well through there and I just focused on hitting my marks and tried to stay out of trouble, and here I am.

“I really didn’t have any idea where I was at when the checkered dropped. It’s an amazing feeling. To work as hard as we all do in the off season, dreaming about what we’re going to do next season, and to know that you made the podium at the Championship Runoffs, I’m just elated.”

Brian Kleeman, of Baltimore, Md., started last in his No. 88 ICS Learning Group/DWW Motorsports Nissan 350Z and finished fourth to earn the Sunoco Hard Charger award. Bill Baten, of Indianapolis, Ind., completed the top five in his No. 98 Hoosier/Marks ADR/VanWinkle Chevrolet Camaro.

Aquilante earned the Hawk Fastest Race Lap with a best time of 2:38.015 (91.131 mph).

Now in its 48th year, the SCCA National Championship Runoffs annually crowns Champions in the Sports Car Club of America’s Club Racing classes. The live broadcast of all 28 National Championship races will be available throughout the weekend at www.SpeedcastTV.com/scca and later available On Demand from the same site.

Follow the action on Twitter @SCCAOfficial or the SCCA, Inc. Official Facebook page at facebook.com/sccaofficial. More information is available at www.scca.com.

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Results from Friday’s Black Magic Touring 2 SCCA National Championship race from Road America, with finishing position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (3), Marty Grand, Manassas Park, VA, Mitsubishi Evo IX, 10.
2, (15), Chad Gilsinger, Marysville, OH, Acura TL SH-AWD, 10.
3, (13), Alan Kossof, Wheeling, IL, BMW M3, 10.
4, (26), Brian Kleeman, Baltimore, MD, Nissan 350Z, 10.
5, (12), Bill Baten, Indianapolis, IN, Chevrolet Camaro, 10.
6, (11), Todd Napieralski, Chelsea, MI, Chevrolet Camaro, 10.
7, (7), Andy Wolverton, Papillion, NE, Pontiac Solstice GXP, 10.
8, (19), Richard Baldwin, Madisonville, LA, Nissan 350Z, 10.
9, (17), Bill Steinhoff, Plantation, FL, Nissan 350Z, 10.
10, (20), Randy Tauro, Hollis, NH, Nissan 350Z, 10.
11, (22), Richard Kulach, Keller, TX, Nissan 370Z, 10.
12, (9), Don Knowles, Pittsboro, NC, Pontiac Solstice GXP, 10.
13, (18), Dan Spirek, Parker, CO, BMW Z4 M Coupe, 10.
14, (24), Joey Wang-DeFilippis, Fort Lee, NJ, Mitsubishi Evo MR, 10.
15, (14), Michael Pettiford, Louisville, CO, Pontiac Solstice GXP, 10.
16, (2), Tony Rivera, Missouri City, TX, Nissan 370Z NISMO, 9.
17, (1), Andrew Aquilante, Chester Springs, PA, Ford Mustang GT, 9.
18, (25), Mark Boden, Winnetka, IL, Porsche 996, 9.
19, (10), Kris Von Sydow, Barrington, IL, BMW M3, 9.
20, (6), Jason Ott, Thornton, CO, BMW Z4 M Coupe, 9.
21, (4), Jay Patel, Crown Point, IN, Porsche 996, 9.
22, (8), John Kachadurian, Chicago, IL, BMW M3, 9.
23, (16), Tim Hund, Norfolk, VA, Mitsubishi Evo, 9.
24, (21), Charlie Vehle, Washington, TX, BMW M3, 9.
25, (23), David Muramoto, Aurora, CO, Nissan 350Z, 8.
DNS, (5), Joe Koenig, Glenview, IL, Porsche 996, 0.

Time of Race: 30:08.724
Winner’s average speed: 79.614 mph
Hawk Fastest race lap: #32 Andrew Aquilante 2:38.015 (91.131 mph)
Lap Leaders: 1-3, #43 Marty Grand, 4-8, #32 Andrew Aquilante, 9-10 #43 Marty Grand.
Sunoco Hard Charger: #88 Brian Kleeman

Photo: Marty Grand en route to victory in Touring 2
Credit: Jay Bonvouloir/SCCA

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