REPEAT: Roush Jr., Johnson Defend CTSCC Win At Daytona
By Team Ford Racing Correspondent
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Having twice sponsored the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge's season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway, a particular German car manufacturer has likewise now twice passed the winner's trophy to a couple of Ford Mustang Boss 302R drivers.
Indeed, the very same Ford drivers.
Roush Performance drivers Jack Roush Jr. and Billy Johnson all but dominated a race that they weren't supposed to win a first time, much less twice in the CTSCC Grand Sport division.
"It's really great to win to win at Daytona two years in a row," Roush said.
In the No. 61 and running comfortably in the top-5 while under green, Jack Roush Jr. gave up the spot under yellow-flag conditions when the car's left-front tire lost its pressure.
"I think it went down in the East Horseshoe because of some debris," Roush said.
"At first I thought I'd picked up some rubber and then scrubbed the tires but it soon became apparent that it was going down, so I tried to find a speed where I could stay up with the pack but keep the rubber on the rim."
Roush somehow did, steering the car around much of the 3.56-mile DIS road course with the rubber falling from the rim only after the team's left-front tire changer pulled the wheel from the car.
With Johnson in the car but much farther arrears, a 2013 rule change suddenly came in quite handy.
NASCAR-style rules dictate that upon a start or resumption of green-flag racing, race competitors must hold their respective positions until reaching a course's start-finish line.
This, too, was the prevailing rule at NASCAR's sports car-racing cousin, GRAND-AM, until last fall's buyout of the American Le Mans Series which prompted a rules change to that which matched much of the rest of the sports car racing world.
GRAND-AM drivers may now advance from wherever, whenever the track goes green.
"It helped a ton," Johnson said. "I was able pass guys right away on the tri-oval, like those in the (slower) Street Tuner class, that I would've eventually passed anyway."
Winning by nearly two seconds ahead of the Porsche of Nick Longhi and Matt Plumb and by four seconds over the third-place Aston Martin of John Farano and David Empringham, there was little suspense at the race's end -- the Mustang was flat-out galloping.
Coming to a rather ironic light Friday were additional details concerning the disallowance of the No. 51 Starstruck Mustang Boss 302R's Thursday qualifying time: The car was too heavy.
"Yes, it would seem a little odd that GRAND-AM would reach that decision," Roush deadpanned.
An extra bag of ballast, used to bring a race car to its minimum race weight as stipulated by the sanctioning body, was inadvertently left in the car prior to the qualification run.
"It wasn't a case of sandbagging as much as that of a sand bag," Roush chuckled.
Having clawed his way to the pack's front after starting dead last, first-shift driver Joey Atterbury was running fourth when he dropped to the East Bank's apron and brought the car into the pits midway through the race.
The verdict: a blown transmission ruined the team's almost miraculous recovery before closer Shelby Blackstock even had a chance to climb in.