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Mar 16, 2014 - 06:28 AM
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Doran Racing's Jaeger And Zacharias Finish Third At Sebring Friday
Posted by: newsla on Mar 16, 2014 - 06:22 AM
Sports Cars
Doran Racing's Jaeger And Zacharias Finish Third At Sebring Friday


It was a podium finish for Doran Racing in Friday's Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Sebring International Raceway. Brad Jaeger and BJ Zacharias brought the team's #14 Nissan NISMO 370Z RC home in third place after two and a half hours of torrid competition and an amazing pass on the last green-flag lap before the race ended under yellow.

 

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The Lebanon, Ohio-based team's other Nissan NISMO 380Z RC had a top-10 finish too, as the Tower Events #41 driven by John Farano and David Empringham finished ninth in the 59-car field despite being hit and spun by a BMW on lap 19 of the 55-lap race.

Jaeger, of Charlottesville, Va., qualified ninth but actually got to start eighth when another competitor's car failed the post-qualifying technical inspection. Although many full-course cautions were predicted the event only had two of them and both occurred in the second half of the race, so Jaeger had no time outs for the 52 minutes he was in the cockpit.

He let Lucas Bize's Mustang by at the start to avoid an accident but Jaeger was back in eighth by lap four when he passed another Mustang driven by Kurt Rezzetano. He set the fastest lap of his stint on that lap when he was timed in 2:18.014. Jaeger passed Bize working lap five to move into seventh place, and then stayed in that position until he passed Billy Johnson's Mustang for sixth with 16 laps in the books. He was still in that position when he pitted under green for Zacharias to take over with 21 laps complete. The pit crew had problems changing one of the tires on that stop so it took a little longer than they would have liked, and Zacharias was in 19th position for the start of his stint.

Zacharias, of Cincinnati, wasted no time in getting to work. He was 14th by lap 24, 12th by lap 27 and still in 12th place on lap 31 at the race's halfway point, still with no full-course cautions. He passed Brett Sandberg's Porsche for 11th on lap 32 and ran in that spot for the next six laps.

With 57 minutes remaining in the race he moved into ninth place when Shelby Blackstock pitted due a broken left-rear suspension piece in his BMW, and Zacharias passed Matt Plumb's Porsche. Three minutes later the race's first full-course caution occurred on lap 40 for debris.

Team owner Kevin Doran brought Zacharias in under that yellow with 42 laps down and 44 minutes remaining in the race. That stop went without a hitch. The yellow was extended due to some stranded cars, but Zacharias was still in ninth place for the restart with 29 minutes left and 46 laps complete.

Some of the cars ahead of him made contact while jockeying for position on that restart. Zacharias darted through it all and suddenly found himself in fifth place. He turned that into fourth on the next lap by passing David Levine, who was in the same Mustang that Bize had been driving earlier. Zacharias set the fastest lap of the race for the #14 on lap 49 too with a 2:17.920.

He wasn't done, however. With 49 laps down he also passed Kris Wilson's Aston Martin for third, which was the move that ended up being the pass of the weekend for the team.

Instants later a Mazda driven by Marc Miller took a heavy hit into some tires by the Mobil 1 Bridge near the Chateau Elan Hotel, causing the second and final full-course caution on lap 50 with 20 minutes remaining in the race. Shortly thereafter a BMW driven by James Clay lost its brakes and hit another wall while trying to catch up to the field after a pit stop. With two crashed cars and many tires for the track crew to clean up the race ended under that yellow with 55 laps compete, and the Doran Racing Nissan 370Z #14 was on the podium.

(Reportedly Miller was treated and released from Heartland Medical Center in Sebring. Later he told his Facebook friends that he had broken ribs and a broken ankle, and that the accident was caused by a broken left-rear control arm. Clay walked away from his accident.)

A Camaro driven by Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell won the race, with the pole-winning BMW of Trent Hindman and John Edwards placing second.

The Tower Events #41 of Farano and Empringham was fast too, and recorded a solid top-10 finish for their Canadian fans. Both drivers are from Toronto.

Farano qualified 19th but he started 18th after a post-tech penalty was bestowed on another entry. He had a fabulous start, passing Steve Phillips' Aston Martin and DJ Randall's BMW to move into 16th by the end of lap two. He got 15th on the next lap when another Aston Martin driven by another driver from Toronto, Anthony Mantella, dropped back. Farano set the fastest lap of his stint on lap three with a 2:20.070.

He moved into 14th position with six laps down when Kurt Rezzetano's Mustang encountered a problem, and dropped back to 15th again with 10 laps complete when Randall got him back. He remained in 15th until he passed Boris Said's BMW with 17 laps down to move back into 14th position.

Said tried to repass him, but he got into the passenger side of Farano's Nissan instead, creating a big dent in the #41 and damaging his own BMW enough that he was forced to pit and then retire with 18 laps complete. Farano spun from the contact but then regrouped, pitted and continued on, dropping back to 16th in the process. The incident did not bring out a yellow.

A few laps later, with Farano's required time behind the wheel met, the #41 pitted again for Empringham to take over. That dropped the entry back to 27th overall and 21st in class, one lap down, but Empringham was still able to reel off a 2:18.258 on lap 26.

Shortly after the halfway point Empringham became engaged in a good battle with Dane Cameron's Nissan, which continued until the first full-course caution with less than an hour remaining in the race.

Empringham made the car's third and final pit stop under that yellow. The standings were altered due to other cars pitting too, coupled with the changes at the front due to the melee on the restart, and Empringham was able to get back on the lead lap with about 45 minutes remaining.

With 25 minutes to go Empringham passed Brett Sandberg's Porsche to move into tenth place. Just like Zacharias he got around one more car right before the final caution, as he passed Plumb's Porsche to nail down ninth before the full-course yellow under which the race ended. That was the #41's fastest lap of the race too, at 2:18.110.

Friday's race will be broadcast on a tape-delayed basis on Fox Sports 1 at 1 p.m. Eastern time March 19, and rebroadcast at 7:30 p.m. March 23 on Fox Sports 2.

The series takes a little breather before its next event May 3-4 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Salinas, Calif.

For more information on Doran Racing, see DoranRacing.com. The team also has a Facebook page. The series' Web site is at imsa.com.

Driver post-race quotes follow:

Brad Jaeger: "The podium finish feels great! It's amazing that the race went so long without any full-course caution flags. The Continental tires worked well. The track was greasy, but we kept a good pace that let us run to the front.

"On the first lap I had contact in Turn 5 with one of the Mustangs. It threw the alignment off, so we had to deal with that the entire race. It kept you on your toes the whole time, that's for sure!

"I want to thank Doran Racing. They did an amazing job on that last pit stop. On the first pit stop we had a problem with one of the wheels that hurt us a little as far as track position goes. We were in sixth before that.

"It would have been interesting to see where we would have ended up if the race hadn't ended under yellow. We had the faster car. If we hadn't had that last yellow, I think we would have been definitely fighting for second."

BJ Zacharias: "Brad had a great start and opening stint, keeping the car in one piece and inside the top 10. That is exactly what has to happen for a shot at great finishes in this series.

"During my stint, it just became an issue with tire management and working smart through traffic. We were a bit behind the leaders but able to lap as fast as the leaders once their tires fell off. We just needed a yellow to bunch up the field, and it happened with about 45 minutes to go.

"The crew was able to bang out a great pit stop so we had fresh tires and fuel to finish.

"On the restart there was an incident between a couple cars and I was able to pick through and make up four positions.

"After that I just tried to be smooth, focus on the cars ahead, not abuse the car, and beat everyone back to full throttle.

"Kevin and the crew really nailed the set-up for the track conditions. Again, running the 41 car has really helped with this. We have been able to try different things in a short amount of time.

"I feel badly for John Farano, as he had a very good opening stint as well before unfortunately being blindsided. David Empringham did what he does best and was able to bring the car back to ninth with a stellar drive.

"Having both cars finish in the top 10 is exactly what this team is focused on right now."

David Empringham: "I'm really happy for BJ and Brad. It's nice to see a podium for the team. John had some bad luck, getting a hit from Boris that put us a lap down. We finally got our lap back with 45 minutes to go, but the long yellow at the end hurt our chances for a good result. All in all, I'm really happy with the team. They all worked hard and I'm looking forward to Laguna."

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