Racers Edge Motorsports’ Harry Gottsacker put himself on a different pit strategy than the other leaders Sunday (July 15) at Portland International Raceway. Pitting early and turning in quick laps during the pit window allowed him to overtake Blackdog Speed Shop’s No. 11 Camaro in the pits. Once out front, Gottsacker was able to hold on to take his first career Pirelli World Challenge GTS SprintX win.
“It’s a huge weight lifted off my shoulders,” Gottsacker said after the race. “I can’t wait to get to Utah and do it again. From the first practice [on Friday], we were quick. Yesterday, I made one mistake [and that] let [Ian] James by. I was not going to make that mistake today and it paid off.”
Gottsacker had the pole by virtue of the fastest lap on Saturday and sped away at the start of the event. Blackdog Speed Shop’s Michael Cooper quickly moved up to second and began to try to reel in Gottsacker.
A crash on the backstretch for Mühlner Motorsports America’s Keith Jensen on the backstretch brought out a full course caution on lap 7, closing everyone back up. On the restart, Cooper was able to put the moves on Gottsacker and took the lead entering the Festival Curves.
Shortly afterwards, the pit window opened and Gottsacker ducked into the pits for his stop. Cooper stayed out for another seven laps before stopping and handing over to Tony Gaples. Unfortunately, there was some kind of hangup on the driver change. As a result, Gaples was over two seconds slower than Gottsacker in the pits, more than enough for Gottsacker to jump back into the overall lead.
Another full course yellow flew on lap 25 when Classic BMW’s Brett Strom slid into the tires in Turn 5. By that time, Gottsacker had put six seconds and a couple of lapped cars between himself and Gaples.
Once the race restarted, Gottsacker ran away from the pack while Gaples fought with the drivers around him. Team Panoz Racing’s Matthew Keegan was able to snatch second but he could do nothing with the young Texan.
Gottsacker’s margin of victory over Keegan and Ian James was 8.775 seconds. PF Racing’s Jade Buford and Scott Maxwell were third, followed by Blackdog Speed Shop’s Cooper and Gaples. Lawson Aschenbach and Andy Pilgrim in the second Blackdog Camaro were fifth.
In the Am class, Epic Motorsports’ James Clay started from the pole and led early. He was never seriously challenged after his stint in the car.
Following stops, Team Panoz Racing’s Dr. Preston Calvert moved into second. The caution for Strom’s issues brought the pack back to Epic Motorsports. Randy Mueller had the lead but Calvert was able to put the moves on Mueller during the final lap. From there, Calvert held on to take his first GTS victory.
Mueller and Clay finished second, three-tenths of a second back. Ian Lacy Racing’s Drew Staveley was third in his Ginetta followed by Greg Liefooghe and Henry Schmitt in the Stephen Cameron Racing BMW. Classic BMW’s Toby Grahovec and Chris Ohmacht were fifth.
Coverage of the GTS SprintX races from Portland will air in highlighted form on CBS Sports Network July 25 at 8 p.m. The coverage will ultimately focus on this race.
GTS teams are now off for the next four weeks before the SprintX championships are decided at Utah Motorsports Campus. The final two SprintX races of the year are scheduled for August 11 and 12.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.
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