Grand Am: Belle Isle Race Report
Joao Barbosa avoided the pitfalls that sidelined his chief competitors, then completed a nifty pass of Action Express Racing teammate David Donohue with 19 laps left to win Saturday's Chevrolet GRAND-AM Detroit 200 at Belle Isle.
The Portuguese driver landed his first win of the season and eighth of his GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series career, co-driving the No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP with Darren Law. Once in front, he survived a restart with 10 minutes left in the two-hour race and pressure from Donohue to seal a 1-2 sweep by Action Express Racing Corvette DPs.
Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney started on the pole and led the first 19 laps. After the pit stop cycles, the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP battled in the top-five until the final stop when a problem with a latch delayed them on pit lane. Gurney came back to action in seventh place, and battled back to finish fourth.
The No. 10 SunTrust Racing Corvette DP driven by Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor started second, and took the lead on lap 20. When Taylor took over the cockpit, he continued to lead for a total of 12 laps, but a wreck while leaving pit road on lap 36 caused damage and left the 2012 two-time winners with a 10th-place-in-class finish.
The No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP, driven by Michael Valiente and Richard Westbrook, briefly led before it, too, was involved in a wreck that caused damage. The incident led to a ninth-place finish for the team that won earlier this year at Barber Motorsports Park. Starworks Motorsport added a third DP for Detroit, the No. 7 Ford/Riley driven by Colin Braun and Scott Mayer. The team also plans to run the car at Road America and the Sahlen’s Six Hours of Watkins Glen. Donohue was second in the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP he co-drove with Terry Borcheller, just .440 seconds behind at the finish. Scott Pruett, who led for two of the 72 laps in the first half of the race, finished third in the No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley co-driven by Memo Rojas.
No. 8 Duncan Ford/Riley co-drivers Enzo Potolicchio and Ryan Dalziel finished sixth to retain the points lead in the featured Daytona Prototype class, just one point ahead of Law. Jeff Segal and Emil Assentato – who finished fourth in class Saturday in the No. 69 FXDD Ferrari 458 – added one point to their lead in GT.
Joao Barbosa, No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP:
"It was an interesting race," Barbosa said. "We had a great car and had been very close to winning in previous races. For whatever reason, it just didn't happen. … We were really motivated to get a good result for Chevy here in Detroit. It was an interesting race. We had a great car and had been very close to winning in previous races. For whatever reason, it just didn't happen. … We were really motivated to get a good result for Chevy here in Detroit. Just a fantastic job all we finally I took advantage of it.”
Darren Law, No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP:
“You know what? If I bit my nails I would have no nails left,” Law, who started, said about being a spectator at the end of the race. “I was going crazy, but Joao did a stellar job. I have to thank all the crew and Action Express and also to win this in Detroit in front of Chevy’s headquarters, this is unbelievable. I’m just super happy.”
It was the fourth straight victory for the Corvette DP, which stretched its lead in the Daytona Prototype manufacturer standings to 17 points over Ford. Ferrari leads the GT manufacturer standings six points over Chevrolet.
The series resumes June 9 in at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.