Road Atlanta: GT race report

Davis Wins SPEED GT At Atlanta, Pobst Is Champion BRASELTON, Ga. (Oct. 3, 2008) -- Brandon Davis, of Huntington Beach, Calif., got the holeshot from his second starting position and never wavered en route to his second SCCA Pro Racing SPEED ...

Road Atlanta: GT race report

Davis Wins SPEED GT At Atlanta, Pobst Is Champion

BRASELTON, Ga. (Oct. 3, 2008) -- Brandon Davis, of Huntington Beach, Calif., got the holeshot from his second starting position and never wavered en route to his second SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship win at the SPEED GT Finale Presented by Foametix®, part of the Petit Le Mans Powered by the Totally New MAZDA6 at Road Atlanta. Tommy Milner, of Leesburg, Va., and Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., completed the podium. Randy Pobst, of nearby Gainesville, Ga., clinched his second-consecutive Drivers' Championship.

Polesitter Milner spun the tires on the standing start in his No. 21 Rahal Letterman Racing Aston Martin DB9 and it was just enough for Davis to take the advantage heading into turn one. From there, the 22-year old was able to steadily pull away in a race slowed by two cautions to pilot his No. 10 ACS/Sun Microsystems Ford Mustang Cobra to a 4.093-second win, averaging 84.003 mph.

"Well, I had a front row seat to Tommy's burnout," Davis said. "From there I just wanted to keep the car up there and run hard every lap. Obviously in qualifying, we weren't sure if we could run that pace every lap of the race, so we made some significant changes to the handling and the car was just hooked up."

Milner's first series pole came by just 0.010-second over Davis, and the two cars seemed that evenly matched in the first third of the race. However, as the 28-lap, 71.12-mile race wore on, Davis' car seemed to have the measure of the field. It was the second win for Davis and the first since Round Two in Long Beach. The team struggled in the middle of the season, but finished strong with three-straight podium finishes.

"We left here with what we came with basically. The car is very strong, but we had a reliability issue. There was a point there, where we contemplated going to another car, but fortunately Joe Huffaker did a great job with the motors and making them reliable."

Unable to fight for the lead, Milner was comfortably in second, giving the Aston Martin its best-ever finish in series competition. It was also the career-best finish for 22-year old Milner, who joined the series midway through the 2008 season.

"I obviously didn't have the best start," admitted Milner. "Unfortunately we don't have launch control. It came down to the clutch and me in the end, and I've only done five starts now and I'm learning every time. I didn't get it right this time.

"At first, I thought I was going to push pretty hard to see if I could catch [Davis], but whenever I'd close the gap up, he'd just build it up again. Then the yellow came out and I thought maybe I could get him on cold tires, but he did a great job on the restart and I really never had a chance to catch him."

Pilgrim had an outside chance at overtaking Pobst for the Championship in his No. 8 Remington Shaving & Grooming Cadillac CTS-V, but needed a win and bad luck by Pobst to accomplish it. He came out on top of a tight battle with the No. 30 Whelen Engineering Chevrolet Corvette to take the final podium spot, the series-best eighth of 2008.

"I had major pressure there at the end," Pilgrim said. "My tires were going away, [Curran's] tires were going away. I was a little quicker on the straightaway, he was a little quicker out of Five. I was pretty good out of Turn One and pretty good out of Turn Three, but I couldn't afford to make any mistakes.

"I couldn't make a mistake and I love racing like that. It pushes me to the peak and you never want to give up a position. Sometimes you give one up, like Randy did with me at Laguna last year, but in a race like this you never want to give up a position. Eric raced me clean and it was awesome, good fun."

A slight bobble by Pilgrim almost granted Curran the position, but he got an assist from an unlikely source.

"There was one time when I slipped too much going into Turn 12 and I just clipped the curb, there was a yellow in One," Pilgrim said. "That would have been the one time that I thought 'well, if he really rockets it there, I've got to give it to him,' but there was a yellow and it was his teammate's car causing the yellow!"

Curran recovered from electrical problems during practice and qualifying to finish fourth, only his fourth top-five of the season.

Pobst needed to finish better than 26th in order to clinch his second-straight SCCA SPEED GT Championship, regardless of where Pilgrim placed. The 2003 and 2007 series Champ brought his No. 1 K-PAX Racing Porsche 911 GT3 home fifth in the final race.

"I was holding my breath because it ain't over till it's over," Pobst said. "Those of us who have been around awhile know how things can go all wrong in the blink of an eye.

"The secret to winning is a combination of reliability and speed and I am so very fortunate to be part of the K-PAX/3R Racing Team. It was great racing against teams like the ACS Mustangs and the Remington Cadillacs and Tommy [Milner] when he showed up. The Porsche is a tremendous car and one of our advantages is that the Porsche is so well developed and so reliable.

"The last [Championship] is always the best one whether it is race wins or championships. Back in 1996, I remember winning the Super Touring Car Championship. I was 39 years old thought 'this might be the pinnacle of my career,' but here we are 12 years later winning another championship. Of course, it helps being part of a great championship caliber team like K-PAX/3R Racing and driving some great cars!"

Jason Daskalos (Dodge Viper), James Sofronas (Porsche 911 GT3), Tim McKenzie (Porsche 911 GT3), Cindi Lux (Dodge Viper) and Tomy Drissi (Chevrolet Corvette) completed the top 10.

Jeff Courtney, of Slinger, Wis., earned the Racing Electronics Holeshot Award for advancing three positions on the opening lap of the race in his No. 99 Kenda/TJM/MPI Coin/Badger Dodge Viper. Courtney's race ended on lap eight after contact from Jason Foster's Dodge Viper.

Rob Foster, of Phoenix, Ariz., captured the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing eight positions in the race, from 20th to 12th.

By just starting the race in his No. 9 Lala Motorsports Dodge Viper, Gunter Schaldach, of Aspen, Colo., clinched the 2008 Rookie of the Year honors.

Pobst finished the season with 983 points to Pilgrim's 907. Davis finished the season third, with 831, followed by Sofronas (750) and Michael Galati (733). Porsche clinched the SCCA SPEED GT Manufacturers' Championship Presented by RACER Magazine in New Jersey, and finished 14 points ahead of Ford in the final standings, 64 to 50. Cadillac was third, with 49, followed by Dodge (40) and Chevrolet (24).

Today's race will be broadcast Wednesday, Oct. 15 at 1 p.m. (EDT) on SPEED.

-credit: scca pro racing

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