O’Connell & Aschenbach Scorch COTA
In GTS, Aschenbach started from the Motul Pole and gained an early advantage in his No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro. Unlike O’Connell, the restarts did not go as smoothly for the two-time series Champion. On the lap-11 restart, Aschenbach watched the pair of Kia Motors America Kia Optimas of Nic Jonsson and Mark Wilkins drive by heading up the hill into Turn One.
It took Aschenbach four laps to move around Wilkins, and then another two to move past Jonsson and back into the lead. In the closing laps, Andy Lee, of Colorado Springs, Colo., began to close on the leader. On the final lap, Lee turned the fastest lap of the race in his No. 20 Best IT Chevrolet Camaro, but came up 0.348-second short at the finish.
It was Aschenbach’s second-straight win, and moved him to within one point of Championship leader Jack Baldwin. Aschenbach’s resurgent run earned him the Cadillac CTS-V Move of the Race.
“This win is a big deal,” Aschenbach said. “With only 14 races, you really need to be up front as often as you can. Fortunately, today, it worked for us.
“It was quite hot. Something happened about halfway through, so I had to back it off a little bit. But Andy [Lee] drove a hell of a race out there, too. He was right there. Two Camaros up front for GM is always good.
“This is only our third race and we’re winning races. It’s quite a testament to our sponsors and the work the guys at the shop have done. We’ll take it, but I think we still do have some work to do for tomorrow, to help get this thing a little quicker.”
Lee’s runner-up finish equaled his best on the season. The fast lap of 1:41.032 (81.954 mph) means Lee will start Sunday’s Round Five race from the Motul Pole.
“This has been one of the most grueling races heat wise, in the car,” Lee said. “I opted to go without the cool suit just to stay as light as I could. I was saving everything, the motor, the brakes, the tires. I was just driving it 90 percent most of the race. I thought if I went for it on the last lap I might catch him at the right time. I closed, but I probably should have started a lap earlier. But, it was a great battle and he [Aschenbach] drove flawlessly. It’s good to be a Chevy Camaro one-two.”
Baldwin started sixth, but worked his way around the front-wheel drive Kias and the Acura TSX of defending series Champion Peter Cunningham to take the final spot on the podium in his No. 73 Motul/StopTech/Foametix Porsche Cayman.
“I didn’t get a great start at all, ending up eighth,” Baldwin said. “I just ran hard all day and did the best to manage everything. I think third is pretty good. I’ve got nothing for the Camaros, so that’s what we’ve got. Third is third. I’m good.”
Jonsson and Wilkins completed the top five.