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Westbrook Holds Off Pruett At Mid-Ohio GRAND-AM Race

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Saturday, June 9 2012

Richard Westbrook in the Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP won at Mid-Ohio on Saturday.

Richard Westbrook drove the Spirit of Daytona Corvette Daytona Prototype to victory at the EMCO Gears Classic Rolex GRAND-AM Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday.

Westbook held off Scott Pruett of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates after a restart with 7 minutes to go in the three-hour race in Lexington, Ohio.

Westbrook, who co-drove with Michael Valiente, broke free of  Pruett’s BMW Riley on the restart but then had to withstand a final-lap charge. Pruett crossed the finish line on Westbrook’s rear bumper.

“It’s really satisfying,” said Westbrook. “I’m really relieved. This is where we should be. We came off the grounds a bit after Barber. Now we’re back on. A big thanks to Mike (Valiante) he drove awesome today. He put the car into the lead and then I just had to finish off the good run that he had done. He put us in this position today, really thanks to Michael.”

It was the second victory for the Spirit of Daytona as they won at Homestead-Miami Speedway earlier in the spring.

It was the second victory in a matter of hours at Mid-Ohio for Valiante, who claimed a Street Tuner class win in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race earlier Saturday afternoon.

“Richard and I talked about how much we wanted to win this race and we knew we’d have a good car,” said Valiante, who started the race from the outside of the front row. “I was optimistic just to be on the podium coming back and doing only a handful of races, so to get out front and maintain that position, I just had my fingers crossed that nothing would go wrong. It almost seemed too good to be true.”

Third was David Donohue in the Action Express Corvette DP.

The Max Angelelli-driven Corvette of SunTrust Racing was running second with just under 19 minutes remaining when he tangled with Pruett first, and then with the Action Express Corvette of Joao Barbosa.

Angelelli spun, was hit again by Barbosa and knocked out of the race.

“That was really disappointing,” Angelelli said. “I came up on a really slow Mazda that didn’t let me go, so I lost a lot of time there. The 01 (Pruett) had a good run and overtook me. It was a clean overtake, no problem. Then the 9 (Barbosa) hit me in the right rear and cut my tire. He hit me with his left front. I really don’t understand why he was there, why that happened. We were on our way to getting second-place points. Instead, we finish in the back. That is just devastating, once again. We will have to come back strong from these last two weeks.”

Pruett moved to second, where he restarted the race next to Westbrook.

In the GT class, Bill Auberlen got the victory in the Turner Motorsports BMW M3.

Second was Jeff Segal in the AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458. Third was Robin Liddell in the Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R.

Like Westbrook, Auberlen also faced pressure from behind following the final restart, but he held on to score the first victory for himself and Dalla Lana since the 2011 event at Barber Motorsports Park.

“We had a very good car here two years ago the last time I was here,” said Auberlen. “It’s like I never left. The car just likes Mid-Ohio.”

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Saturday, June 9 2012
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