GTWC America Acura NSX GT3 Evo
- Matt McMurry
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Duo notch C360R's first podium of 2012 with new Civic Si.
Mansfield, Ohio -- Andrew Novich and co-driver Adam Burrows scored their best finish of the 2012 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season to date with a run to third at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday in the #74 Bellissima Be Beautiful / Speed Secrets Honda Civic Si for Compass360 Racing (C360R). Team-mates Ray Mason and Ryan Eversley finished seventh, keeping their championship hopes alive at the season's half-way point.
Novich opened the race as the fifth place ST runner in the 61-car combined class grid and ran a great first stunt before turning a perfect Civic car over to Burrows. Burrows moved steadily up through the order, from a top-ten run to fighting for fifth to then being the caboose in a three car train for the lead. A pair of late race yellows set the stage for a pair of shootouts as Burrows worked to fight forward while also trying to hold back the charge of a large contingent of ST class runners.
He kept his head down and delivered his tenth career GRAND-AM Continental Tire podium and the best result of Novich’s young GRAND-AM career.
“I’m really happy for the C360R guys and Andrew to be up on the podium,” said Burrows. “I have to give a tremendous amount of credit for this finish to the C360R crew and their pit work. It was lightning fast ... when I looked up from buckling my belts, they were already waving me out. That paid huge dividends in track position. It was a very close fight up front for the lead and I wanted to make the most of having such a strong car underneath me. Andrew did a great job to stay focused and put us in the position to fight for a podium. We’ve been building towards a result like this, so it was rewarding to finally bring it home today.”
The result brings the #74 back into championship contention, with the result moving Novich and Burrows up to seventh position in the hotly-contested battle for first.
Adam Burrows (left) and Andrew Novich celebrate their maiden podium as a driving duo.
Local boy and Columbus, Ohio-native Ray Mason, driving the #75 Columbus Truck / Children's Tumor Foundation car demonstrated that home-track knowledge can pay dividends by storming through the pack after the truncated qualifying session found him starting the race in 21st. By the time the pit call came at the 50-minute mark, he'd moved up to be knocking on the top-ten and handed a clean car off to co-driver Ryan Eversley. Ryan continued through the pack but was hampered by numerous caution periods during the second stint, with the #75 classified seventh at the flag. That result moves Mason and Eversley into fifth place in the very tight drivers standings, as the lead C360R car.
"These guys have built a great car and sure know how to run a race," noted Mason. "I think we could have pulled off a win if the race had gone green in the last half, but that's the way it goes sometimes. I'm happy with the result at my home track, and know we're moving up the championship ladder, but I also want to get on the podium pretty darned soon. These Compass360 boys have shown they can get it done."
Mid-Ohio marked a return to driving for Team Principal Karl Thomson, co-driving the #77 Joe Marina Honda / HPD car with Trevor Hopwood. Thomson qualified the car on the eighth row for the 2.5-hour race, moving all the way up to fifth before turning the car over to Hopwood. Unfortunately the pit cycle didn’t favor the #77 machine and Hopwood returned to the fray deep in the pack. Despite working to make up the lost ground, the eight caution periods that slowed the race cost Hopwood the racing laps to fight forward.
“It was great to be back here with C360R this weekend,” said Hopwood, who is looking forward to his first summer as a proud papa. “I didn’t have the brakes I really needed to make up much ground. I was able to get some very good runs out of the corners, but I couldn’t close the deal because I had to be careful with a bit of a soft pedal. But it was a good weekend overall, and a big congrats to Adam and Andrew for getting up on the podium.”
2010 Champion David Thilenius and co-driver John Kuitwaard looked on track to move ahead in the championship standings when late-race contact with the #10 Kia saw them tumble down the leaderboard, with the final result of 23rd. "I'm gutted for John and Dave," remarked Thomson. "They got taken out by the Kia and then had to serve a penalty for avoidable contact, which feels to me like being kicked when you're already down. I'm hopeful we'll see some changes in the calls from the tower in the second half of the year."
Compass360 Racing's four Honda Civics will next race at Road America in Wisconsin, June 20-22.
As always, thanks to Matt Cleary at Sunday Group Management for his stellar PR work. Special thanks to Wes Duenkel, and Michael and Leslie Stahlschmidt at Sideline Sports Photography for their amazing shots, which are shown above.