For the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, the season-opening BMW Performance 200 is a chance to shake off the cobwebs, get back on the track and have some fun with a number of rivals. Friday afternoon saw some excellent action in both the Grand Sport and Street Tuner classes, but familiar names came out on top.
Multimatic Motorsports’ duo of Billy Johnson and Scott Maxwell overcame a poor final pit stop to pass the Rum Bum Racing Porsche 911 of Matt and Hugh Plumb with 32 minutes to go. After a caution due to a stalled ST-class BMW, Johnson pulled away to take his fourth win at Daytona when the Rum Bum Porsche ran into apparent fuel pump issues on the final restart.
The fact that Rum Bum Racing had an issue with their Porsche did take a little bit away from the win, according to Johnson.
“After the pit stop, we had a six second disadvantage to [Matt Plumb] and unfortunately, they had some kind of motor problem because I was able to catch him fairly quickly and draft by,” Johnson said after the race. “Earlier in the race, I was fighting tooth and nail with them and we didn’t have the straight line speed.”
“You never want to inherit a win like that because they’re a fierce competitor and always great to race against,” Johnson continued. We had a great battle in the middle of the race and I’m pretty sure that battle would have lasted all the way to the end.”
The misfortune for Rum Bum Racing ended up being a positive for Compass360 Racing. Their own Ford Shelby GT350R-C (Multimatic’s No. 158 from last year) inherited second-place, but the pairing of Paul Holton and Pierre Kleinubing just could not reel in Johnson. CJ Wilson Racing’s Daniel Burkett and Marc Miller ended up third. Rum Bum Racing ended up finishing a lap down in fifth.
Meanwhile, in Street Tuner, it was a veritable free-for-all early on. Jeff Mosing, driving the No. 56 Murillo Racing Porsche Cayman, had contact with one of the MINI’s and ended up with a big donut on the drivers’ door. The contact ultimately did not affect the car, although it didn’t look very nice.
Once the race settled down, it was a three-car duel between Mosing’s battle-scarred Cayman, a similar No. 8 driven by Elliott Skeer for Rebel Rock Racing and owner/driver James Clay in his own No. 84 BMW 328i for BimmerWorld. The three drivers traded the lead multiple times during the first hour of the race.
While in that tight threesome, Mosing noticed some things that could help him.
“[When I was behind Clay], it gave me a chance to analyze what [Clay’s] car was doing under pressure,” Mosing said during the post-race press conference. “His car was tending to go a little bit free on him. A couple of times through the bus stop, it didn’t take much to get a better exit.”
With the limited on-track track time in the dry (a grand total of 20 minutes all weekend), a number of teams were forced to charge from the rear. A surprising performance saw LRT Motorsports’ No. 4 Honda Civic Si driven by Juan Carlos Leroux charge from 29th in class to the top 5 in the first hour. CRG-I Do Borrow’s Sarah Cattaneo also charged into the top 10 from the rear despite never seeing the track all weekend before the 20 minute warm-up. Cattaneo and co-driver Owen Trinkler eventually finished seventh in class Rennsport One’s Nick Galante also made a charge from outside of the top-15.
On the only stop of the race, Murillo Racing lost some time while trying to fix the driver’s door, but their opposition was delayed as well with slow stops or other problems. Once the dust settled, Mosing’s co-driver Eric Foss ended up still in the lead, with Juan Carlos Leroux’s brother/co-driver Jorge in second, but over 20 seconds behind.
The great run for Clay’s No. 84 came to an end when teammate Tyler Cooke stalled to bring out the yellow. On the restart, Foss pulled away from the pack and won to give Murillo Racing their second ST victory at Daytona in the last three years.
Afterwards, credit was given to the team for how well the Cayman has been developed.
“This is our third season with the car and we’re really getting to know the car and how it’s going to work,” Mosing continued. “[Team owner] Ken Murillo is really on top of it. I usually tend to feel exhausted after a stint because the car works us so hard. It was really nice to get out of the car and feel like I could go back in, put the doors back on, whatever it takes.”
Galante’s teammate Spencer Pumpelly charged past the rest of the ST contenders in the final green-flag run to finish second in his Cayman. The real race to the line was between Jorge Leroux and Skeer’s co-driver Robin Liddell for third. The two drivers swapped positions multiple times in the final laps. Coming to the finish, Leroux and Liddell were side-by-side, bumping and rubbing through the tri-oval. At the line, Leroux just nicked Liddell for the last spot on the podium by .017 of a second.
Taped coverage of the BMW Performance 200 will air on FOX Sports 1 on Feb. 13 at 8:30 a.m. The IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge’s next race will be another Friday afternoon race at Sebring International Raceway on Mar. 18.
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