DiMeo, Holbrook, Palmer Capture Sunday TC, TCA, TCB New Jersey Wins
Michael DiMeo, of Toronto, and Shea Holbrook, of Groveland, Fla., repeated their Round 5 wins in the Touring Car and Touring Car A classes in Round 6 for the Pirelli World Challenge at New Jersey Motorsports Park. A third young gun, Tyler Palmer of San Diego, Calf., has now taken his first Touring Car B-Spec win of the season after a dramatic late-race pass.
For DiMeo, driving in the No. 71 Grand Alarms Honda Civic Si, it was another perfect race to complete a six-pack of victories to open the season. From the Motul pole position, which he earned after setting the fastest race lap in Round 5, DiMeo launched well from the start at the 2.25-mile Thunderbolt road course and led all 27 laps for his second straight flag-to-flag win. DiMeo won by 3.012 seconds.
"We had a great day today and an even better weekend here at NJMP," DiMeo said. "The Children's Tumor Foundation had NF families here yesterday, and I was proud to get a win for them on the last day of NF Awareness Month. Today's race was all about managing TCB traffic, trying to get by them clean and without hurting the gap I had to second place," he added. "I was pushing until the end, and wanted to give C360R a well-deserved win; the guys work extremely hard to give me a solid car."
Second in TC for the second consecutive race was Kevin Anderson, of Huntington Station, N.Y., in the No. 23 TechSportRacing.com Mazda RX-8. Anderson started second but lost the position to a fast-starting Emilee Tominovich, of Laurel, Md., in the No. 19 Emich Racing Volkswagen Jetta GLI. Contact between the two on Lap 4 knocked Tominovich out of the position; Anderson was penalized 20 points for the incident. Still, for Anderson, this was a very good debut weekend within Pirelli World Challenge. Third for the third consecutive race was DiMeo's teammate, Karl Thomson, of Toronto, in the No. 72 CTF.org/Touge Tuning/Racing4Research Honda Civic Si. Jeff Riccia, of Milford, Conn. in the No. 77 GenRacer.com/Stance USA Hyundai Genesis Coupe and Randy Hale, of Haddam, Conn. in the No. 83 TransAero Mazda MX-5 finished fourth and fifth.
Shea Racing completed a comeback weekend from a tough three races at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park with the team's first 1-2 finish in TCA this season. Holbrook, in the No. 67 TRUECar/Lucas Oil/Radium Honda Civic Si, took the lead on Lap 8 after starting third and class and progressing through to the top spot. "It's almost unreal how amazing this feels," she said. "We were strong right from the standing start, running consistently quick laps, and the car never fell off."
The win is her third this season and fourth of her Pirelli World Challenge career. Holbrook also took home two awards, the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for gaining four positions from start-to-finish, and the StopTech Brake Late, Finish First Award for her pass of new teammate Jason Cherry for the lead. "I'm really feeling like we're onto something great here," Holbrook said of the team's evolution. "This is our fifth season as a team and our second year as a multi-car effort. I'm beyond proud of what we've accomplished together. Two wins is exactly what we needed, and I can't wait for Road America!"
Cherry, of Gambrills, Md., equaled his season-best result of second in the No. 13 Autism Society of America/Avpro/Purposeful Architecture Mazda MX-5 in his first weekend with Shea Racing. After gaining three positions on the start, Cherry secured the Optima Batteries Best Standing Start Award. TCA polesitter Ernie Francis Jr., of Dania, Fla., finished third in the No. 98 Breathless Performance Mazda MX-5. Francis Jr.'s pass over Jason Wolfe, of Mt. Vernon, Ohio in the No. 36 Wolfe Trucking Kia Forte Koup for third place on Lap 22 was the Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the Race Award.
The TCB battle was particularly entertaining as Palmer, in the No. 37 MINI USA Mini Cooper, four-time 2014 winner Brian Price, of Middletown, Va., in the No. 51 Unlimited Racing/RP Performance Honda Fit and Paul Holton, of Tallahassee, Fla. in the No. 65 Radium/TRUECar/Lucas Oil Honda Fit all took turns leading the race.
Price led from Laps 1-10, with Holton moving into the lead from Laps 11-15. Palmer then took the top spot for a lap on Lap 16, before Price regained the position on Lap 17. But Palmer would not be denied. On Lap 24, the penultimate lap, Palmer made the move past Turn 3 to take the lead for the final time and make it home to his third career series victory. The move was the Cadillac CTS-V Move of the Race. He continues an incredible run of podiums; Sunday's result marks his 12th podium in 13 career starts.
"We were switching positions nearly every corner," Palmer said. "I don't know how many lead changes there were or position changes in general. Price got loose in Turn 1 and I took that corner great, I had speed coming out of 2, went to the inside for 3, cleared him and was hoping he wouldn't be close enough to get around me on the front straight with the power of the Hondas. That was the best race of the year excitement wise for the fans by far."
Added Palmer, "Thanks to Chris from MINI USA, Brad and Stuart from MINI of Charleston, Mobil 1, Flying L Racing, Ridings Racing, Discount Tire, my Dad along with all my family."
Price finished second, continuing his run of success with six top-two finishes in as many races this year. Nathan Stacy, of Owasso, Okla., made it to third late in the race in the No. 14 MDG/Ford Racing Ford Fiesta. Andrei Kisel, of North Vancouver, B.C. in the No. 57 Racing.ca/LaptopScreen.com Mini Cooper and Dave Rosenblum, of Langhorne, Pa., in the No. 18 Leo & Tommy's Men Shop/VAC Ford Fiesta finished fourth and fifth, for season-best results. Holton fell to seventh by the checkered flag.
Points are final. DiMeo and Thomson are 1-2 in TC with 898 and 511 points, respectively. In TCA, Wolfe leads Holbrook by just 31 points, 670-639. Price has 819 points to lead TCB, with Stacy second on 603.
The next two races, Rounds 7 and 8, are at Elkhart Lake's Road America from June 19-21, as Pirelli World Challenge returns to the picturesque Wisconsin road course for the first time since 2009. With GT, GT-A and GTS also in action there, it will be the second of four all-class weekends this season.
MILLVILLE, New Jersey - Results from Sunday's 27 lap 60.75 mile Pirelli World Challenge Championship TC/TCA/TCB RND 6 race, part of the Great Railings 150 at NJMP at New Jersey Motorsports Park/Thunderbolt, with finishing position, class, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, laps and reason out (if any).
1. TC, (1), Michael DiMeo(R), Toronto, Ontario, Honda Civic Si, 27.
2. TC, (2), Kevin Anderson(R), Huntington Station, N.Y., Mazda RX8, 27, -3.012.
3. TC, (6), Karl Thomson(R), Toronto, Ontario, Honda Civic Si, 27, -15.180.
4. TC, (5), Jeff Ricca, Milford, Conn., Hyundai Genesis Coupe, 27, -32.723.
5. TC, (4), Randy Hale, Haddam, Conn., Mazda MX-5, 27, -1:17.514.
6. TC, (3), Emilee Tominovich(R), Laurel, Md., Volkswagon Jetta GLI, 26, -1 lap.
1. TCA, (3), Shea Holbrook, Groveland, Fla., Honda Civic Si, 27.
2. TCA, (2), Jason Cherry(R), Gambrills, Md., Mazda MX-5, 27, -9.678.
3. TCA, (1), Ernie Francis,Jr, Dania, Fla., MAZDA MX-5, 27, -27.437.
4. TCA, (4), Jason Wolfe(R), Mt. Vernon, Ohio, Kia Forte Koup, 27, -28.941.
1. TCB, (3), Tyler Palmer, San Diego, Calif., MINI Cooper, 25.
2. TCB, (1), Brian Price(R), Middletown, Va., Honda Fit, 25, -.227.
3. TCB, (2), Nathan Stacy(R), Owassa, Okla., Ford Fiesta, 25, -1.292.
4. TCB, (7), Andrei Kisel(R), N. Vancouver, British Columbia, MINI Cooper, 25, -8.822.
5. TCB, (6), Dave Rosenblum, Langhorne, Pa., Ford Fiesta, 25, -16.216.
6. TCB, (8), PJ Groenke, Toronto, Canada, MINI Cooper, 24, -1 lap.
7. TCB, (4), Paul Holton(R), Tallahassee, Fla., Honda Fit, 24, -1 lap.
8. TCB, (5), Jason Fichter(R), Jupiter, Fla., MINI Cooper, 24, -1 lap.
9. TCB, (9), Jim Cleveland, Brisbane Australia, , MINI Cooper, 24, -1 lap.
10. TCB, (10), Austin Snader(R), Fulshear, Texas, FIAT 500, 24, -1 lap.
11. TCB, (12), Marc Boily(R), West Chester, Pa., Mazda 2, 23, -2 lap.
12. TCB, (11), Tom Noble(R), St. Louis Park, Minn., MINI Cooper, 23, -2 lap.
Time of race: 41 minutes, 03.288 seconds
Average speed: 88.783 mph
Margin of victory: 3.012 Seconds (TC), 9.678 Seconds (TCA), 0.227 Seconds (TCB)
Lap leaders: Laps 1-27, #71 Michael DiMeo(R) (TC); Laps 1-7, #13 Jason Cherry(R) (TCA), Laps 8-27, #67 Shea Holbrook (TCA); Laps 1-10, #51 Brian Price(R), Laps 11-15, #65 Paul Holton(R), Lap 16, #37 Tyler Palmer, Laps 17-23, #51 Brian Price (R), Laps 24-25, #37 Tyler Palmer (TCB)
Fastest race lap: #71 Michael DiMeo(R), 1:29.748 (90.252 mph) (TC); #67 Shea Holbrook, 1:30.724 (89.281 mph) (TCA); #7 Jason Fichter(R), 1:40.378 (80.695 mph)
Fastest qualifier: #71 Michael DiMeo(R), 1:29.919 (90.081 mph) (TC); #98 Ernie Francis Jr., 1:30.939 (89.070 mph) (TCA); #51 Brian Price(R), 1:40.289 (80.766 mph)