Accardo and McManus score first time wins in Monterey.
Monterey, CA -- The fourth championship round of the United States Touring Car Championship took competitors to beautiful Monterey County at the legendary Laguna Seca circuit. 2.2 miles of undulating terrain was the site of many intense battles across the four classes racing this past weekend. Leading the charge with the overall victory was rookie Bob Accardo and his #29 Accurate Arms Chevrolet Camaro. Accardo’s debut was as dominant as could be with the pole position, fastest lap, and a flag to flag victory. Accardo was accompanied by his Red Panther Motorsports teammate Rob Harper and his P2i/Forgeline/Sparta BMW 335i as the team took first and second in the super quick GT category. Rounding out the podium was Reza Arsham’s Gogogear.com Konig Wheels Scion tC. Vik Czapla’s stunning Cool Boxx Audi R8 was yet again at the front of the Super Touring field. Czapla has his sights firmly set on collecting his first USTCC Championship. However, his main title rivals were never far away with Mike Sekhon continuing his impressive form for another second place finish in his Edge Motorworks GT Autolounge BMW M3. Reto Baumann’s West Coast Ravenol VW Jetta GLI bounced back from a tough weekend at Sonoma that saw him fail to finish the race to claim the third podium position to keep himself in contention for the championship at the halfway point of the season.
The Touring Car class saw another first time winner in TNI Racing’s Mark McManus. McManus’ Figs Engineering/Accel Lexus IS300 has been challenging the pair of GoGoGear.com Racing’s Hyundai Genesis Coupes all season long and after an excellent qualifying that saw the American grab pole position, he drove a fantastic race to claim an emotional maiden victory. The win boosts his title hopes and closes to within 15 points of the Gary Sheehan/Fred Snow team. Fred Snow was back in the #31 Konig Wheels Hyundai Genesis Coupe for the second time this season and matched teammate Gordon Pun as the pair finished second and third in TC with Pun just edging out Snow by a few seconds over the line.
The weekend’s drama was only beginning with a tight battle in Sportsman. Brad Austin’s TNI Racing Mazda MX5 picked up where he left off at Sonoma by setting another Sportsman lap record at Laguna Seca. Austin’s record time of 1:41.560 is impressive by any measure. Austin made it three wins in the last three races after he crossed the finish line to extend his lead in the Driver’s Championship. However, behind Austin, it was a fumbling scramble to pick up the remaining points. Joshua Lion’s Lion Racing BMW 330ci showed excellent pace to catch back up to the field and finish second after stalling on the start and falling to last place. The Sean Milburn/ Daniel Milburn team crossed the finish line in third place, but after being underweight at parc ferme, the final spot on the podium went to Pete Bovenburg’s ARG MBO Motorsports Honda Civic.
The teams can now enjoy a short summer break after a schedule change delays the next race until mid-September. The hiatus will allow for teams to reset and attack the final half of the season with more energy. Round 5 and 6 see a return to Laguna Seca Raceway for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey as the USTCC joins with IndyCar and teams will have a chance for teams to make amends for mistakes made here this weekend or to repeat victories at a familiar track.
Be sure to follow the action online and on social media and watch the entire season exclusively on Final Drive TV on NBC Sports BA available on Xfinity, Dish Network, DirecTV, AT&T Universe and Hulu Live. You can always watch the previous seasons on YouTube.