Rum Bum Racing’s Matt Plumb made a late-race pass over Roush Performance’s Billy Johnson to win the 2011 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season finale at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on September 17. The win helped BMW capture the manufacturer’s title, despite an army of fourteen Mustangs entered for the race.
Typically, the Grand-Am Road Racing Series visits Mid-Ohio in June. This year, the 15-turn, 2.4 mile road circuit hosted the series finale in September. Cool and dry track conditions made for record-breaking laps; thirty-two of the thirty-nine Grand Sport competitors broke the track record on their qualifying runs. Thirty-two Street Tuner-class cars added to the Grand Sport entries to make one of the biggest Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car challenge fields. With 71 cars crowded into less than 2-1/2 miles of track, the race was sure to be action-packed.
Jack Roush Jr. lifts the inside front wheel through "Madness" at Mid-Ohio. He started the race 11th and co-driver Billy Johnson finished second.
After having a substantial lead at the beginning of the season, Turner Motorsport BMW driver Paul Dalla Lana’s point cushion was slowly chipped away by the competition. By the series finale, the title was within reach for Roush Performance’s Jack Roush Jr. and Billy Johnson. A strong finish for the #61 Roush Performance Mustang combined with a poor finish for the #96 Turner Motorsport BMW would bring the championship to Roush, Johnson, and Ford. To help Dalla Lana’s defend his championship lead, Turner Motorsport brought in road-racing hot-shoe Boris Said as a co-driver.
The outlook for a Ford Mustang to take the win looked bright after James Gue piloted the #37 JBS Motorsports Boss 302R Mustang to pole position with a 1:31.223 lap. Multimatic Motorsports’s Joe Foster was a tick behind Gue and qualified his #15 Mustang Boss 302R second-quickest.
At the race start, Foster and Gue raced side-by-side through the first turns before Foster took the lead, with Gue sandwiched between Foster’s back bumper and a hard-charging Tom Dyer in his CKS Autosport Camaro GS.R. On lap nine, Dryer muscled his Camaro from third to first, and held the lead until the race’s half-way point, when Dryer pitted and handed the lead to Andrew Aquilante and his #35 Subaru WRX.
The #11 Frederick Motorsports Mustang FR500C of Brad Randall and Steve Randall shows signs of some rough-and-tumble racing through turn six at Mid-Ohio. The team started 38th and finished 30th.
With less than one hour remaining, Jade Buford (#33 BMW) took the overall lead from Andrew Aquilante, while Billy Johnson (#61 Roush Performance Mustang Boss 302R) then got by to snatch second. Two laps later, Johnson passed Buford for the lead.
With 40 minutes left to race, Matt Plumb in the #13 Rum Bum Racing BMW M3 passed Buford for second. To add to the tension, Boris Said (co-driver to championship-leader Paul Dalla Lana) tumbled to tenth, reducing Dalla Lana’s GS lead to two points over Johnson and Roush. With two laps to go, a stalking Matt Plumb made his move for the lead, and held off Johnson to take the checker. Boris Said finished sixth, securing the GS-class championship for Turner Motorsport and Paul Dalla Lana.
Joe Foster led the race early in the Multimatic Motorsports Mustang Boss 302R. Foster started the race 2nd and co-driver Scott Maxwell finished 10th.
The 2011 Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season saw fantastic door-to-door, fender-banging action while some of the world’s best drivers fought tooth-and-nail on North America’s greatest tracks. Next year, get out to a track near you for a Grand-Am Continental Tire Challenge Race. Forget the “good old days.” THIS is the golden era of street stock sports car racing!
Ryan McManus and Rich Jones shared the #87 Jomac Racing Mustang FR500C at Mid-Ohio. They started 37th and finished 29th.
Nick Galante co-drove at Mid-Ohio with 2010 Ford Racing Mustang Challenge champion Jason Von Kluge in the #36 Racer's Edge Motorsports Mustang Boss 302R. They started 34th and finished 31st.
2009 KONI Challenge Series Champions Rehagen Racing fielded Ford Racing's #59 Boss 302R for drivers Brett Mars and Ryan Winchester. Mars started 30th and Winchester finished 22nd.
Capaldi Racing brought the #16 Boss 302R to Mid-Ohio for drivers for Craig Capaldi and John Graham. They started 28th and finished 35th.
Roger Miller started the #158 Miller Racing Mustang Boss 302R from 31st, and co-driver James Burke brought it home in 20th position.
Two Boss 302Rs wait in line for fresh Sunoco racing fuel following Friday Morning's practice session.
After Capaldi Racing's FR500C Mustang was damaged beyond repair at Laguna Seca, the crew upgraded to a Boss 302R, which they brought to Mid-Ohio for drivers Kyle Gimple and Tony Buffomante. The pair started 6th and finished 9th.
Ray Mason dusted off his FR500C after his ST-class BMW was damaged in practice at Mid-Ohio. He and co-driver Adam Pecorari started 36th and finished in the same position.
The JBS Motorsports slides through turn 9 in Friday morning's practice session at Mid-Ohio.
The #158 Miller Racing Boss 302R through the trees at Mid-Ohio.
Lyonel Kent and Roly Falgueras shared the #49 Roush Performance Boss 302R at Mid-Ohio. They started 33rd and moved up to 17th at the finish.
After being absent since Daytona, Rehagen Racing arrived at Mid-Ohio with a Boss 302R they built in-house. Richard Golinello qualified 19th, and co-driver Dean Martin finished 11th. Dean Martin drove this very car to two NASA Championship titles the prior weekend at Mid-Ohio! The team towed the car back to Michigan where it was converted from NASA- to Grand-Am-spec in preparation for the Grand-Am race. The Boss 302R is proving to be a very versatile and competitive car in different series.
Tony Buffomante talks with his son during the pre-race fan walk.
Dean Martin in the #52 Rehagen Racing Boss 302R crests turn five in front of the enthusiastic crowd.
The Frederick Motorsports Mustang FR500C pressures a CKS Autosport Camaro during the race. Drivers Scott Panzer and Todd Snyder started 32nd and finished 14th
The Mid-Ohio podium featured race winners Nick Longhi and Matt Plumb (#13 Rum Bum Racing BMW M3), runners up Jack Roush Jr. and Billy Johnson (#61 Roush Performance Mustang Boss 302R), and third-place finishers Charlie Putman and Charles Espenlaub (#48 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3).