Penalty Hands Continental Win To Fall-Line
Fall-Line Motorsports co-drivers Shelby Blackstock and Ashley Freiberg claimed their first IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge victory in Friday’s BMW Performance 200 at Daytona International Speedway when the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 originally scored as the winner was excluded from the race due to a technical infraction.
Freiberg became the first woman to win overall in Continental Tire Challenge history. It also was the first Continental Tire Challenge victory for Blackstock, son of singer/actor Reba McEntire.
“It’s awesome,” said Blackstock, whose previous best Continental Tire Challenge result was a third at Kansas Speedway last year. “I can’t thank the Fall-Line team enough. They gave me an awesome car and made awesome calls to put me in position. I’m pretty speechless right now. I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get to celebrate on the podium, but I couldn’t be happier.
“Ashley might be a little spoiled now. It took me more than two years to finally win one, and she wins in her first start. I hope she doesn’t think this series is easy. But she did an awesome job today.”
Freiberg is the fourth female class winner in the Continental Tire Challenge – nearly a year to the day after Lara Tallman posted a Street Tuner class victory in the 2013 BMW Performance 200, also on the 3.56-mile DIS layout.
“I can’t describe the feeling – it’s everything I could ask for,” Freiberg said. “I’ve got to thank Fall-Line for putting me in one of their cars. Shelby helped me a ton and he really drove the wheels off the car. It’s definitely awesome. I’m pretty realistic and I understand that wins are not easy to get, especially winning at Daytona with all its history. That makes it all the more sweeter.”
Blackstock and Freiberg led what turned out to be a 1-2 sweep for Fall-Line Motorsports, as John Edwards and 18-year-old Trent Hindman took second in the No. 46 Trim-Tex/Criocco Ozzimo/Atlas Acon/DFL Interiors BMW M3.
“It’s a great day for Fall-Line and a great day for BMW,” Edwards said. “It’s bittersweet for me, because it turns out I threw it away with the tech issue _ but that’s racing. It was a good points day to start the season, and a great day for the team.”
Third place went to Michael Marsal and Tom Kimber-Smith in the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 ahead of 15-year-old Kaz Grala and Hugh Plumb in the No. 03 Rum Bum Racing BMW M3. James Davison and Joel Janco completed the top five in the No. 09 TRG-AMR North America Aston Martin Vantage.
Murillo Racing earned its first Street Tuner win, as Jeff Mosing followed up his first career pole by joining Eric Foss in the victorious No. 56 Mosler Motorcars BMW 328i.
“What we did today was three years in the making,” Mosing said. “I’m real excited to be running with such a competent team. Ken Murillo is a real magician when it comes to setting up BMWs.”
Foss passed Greg Liefooghe for the lead in the chicane at the end of the Daytona Superstretch with 15 minutes remaining, leading a group of five cars battling at the front. While Foss was making his move, Ryan Eversley and Michael Valiante tangled at the entrance of the chicane and spun. Eversley was able to continue in the No. 75 Compass360 Racing Honda Civic Si, but Valiante could not continue in the No. 93 HART Honda Civic Si, bringing out the race-ending caution.
“Greg was doing an awesome job, and raced me real close and clean,” Foss said. “I got a little nervous when I saw the Cayman coming up (Cory Friedman in the No. 24 Autometrics Motorsports Porsche), but everything worked out. Ken Murillo is the best engineer I’ve ever worked with. He knows what it takes to take a car to the finish line.”
Liefooghe and Tyler Cooke took second in ST in the No. 81 BimmerWorld Racing BMW 328i. Friedman and David Baum finished third in class, their best finish in the Continental Tire Challenge.
The next race for the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge will be its debut at Sebring International Raceway on Friday, March 14.
TV coverage of the 52nd Rolex 24 at Daytona will begin at 2 p.m. (EST) Saturday on the FOX Network. Live programming will continue on Fox Sports 2 from 4 to 9 p.m. Overnight coverage, from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m., will be carried on IMSA.com. Fox Sports 1 will pick up live TV coverage at 7 a.m. Sunday and carry it through 3 p.m.
Spirit of Daytona Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest in Friday’s final practice before the debut of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup in the Rolex 24.
Westbrook ran a lap of 1:39.256 (129.121 mph) in the No. 90 Corvette DP to lead the one-hour session. He will be joined racing for the Daytona Beach-based team by Michael Valiante and Mike Rockenfeller for Saturday’s race that begins at 2:10 p.m. ET.
“It’s nice knowing that we have the pace to be contenders under our right foot,” Westbrook said. “We’ve had a real nice build up for the Rolex 24. The car is fast and comfortable to drive. This is the first time I’ve been at the Rolex 24 in a DP where I can say I have a chance to fight for the win. We’ve got the pace. Now, we have to stay out of trouble and give ourselves a chance. We’ll give it a go.”
Pole winner Alex Gurney was second fastest on Friday, running 1:39.256 in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette DP.
After missing Thursday’s qualifying due to an electrical problem in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia, Matteo Malucelli turned in the fastest lap in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class in Friday’s session, 1:45.007. He will co-drive with Formula One veterans Giancarlo Fisichella, Gimmi Bruni and 2000 Rolex 24 winner Olivier Beretta in the event.
Sam Bird was fastest in Prototype Challenge (PC) in final practice, running 1:42.176 in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport ORECA FLM09, while Milo Valverde led GT Daytona (GTD) competitors with a lap of 1:48.073 in the No. 556 Level 5 Motorsports Ferrari 458 Italia.No Comment