With a championship battle that changed on every lap, and a fight for the lead that went down to the very last moment of the season, the final race of the 2010 Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge was the best yet.
Rum Bum Racing's Matt Plumb and Nick Longhi brought the rookie team a third race win of the season. The duo held off the hard-charging Roush Racing Ford Mustang of Billy Johnson and Jack Roush Jr to score a victory in the Utah 200 at Miller Motorsports Park on Saturday 11th September 2010.
The team won the opening race of the year in Daytona, and went on to close out the year with three podium appearances in a row. "That was definitely one of the best races I ever had," Plumb said. "Conditions changed so many times. It was a constant battle between Joey and Billy, and we couldn't see a thing into turn one. Luckily I had Jeff Segal - who just finished up the GT championship - spotting for me in turn one, and he was telling me when to brake because I couldn't see the brake markers. We fought for Lou Bacardi, we wanted to make him happy."
The Ford Mustang of Roush and Johnson took their second-consecutive runner-up finish to close the year on a high-note. Sharing the podium was fellow BMW runners Joey Hand and Michael Marsal in the Turner Motorsport BMW, who were an outside chance to take the championship at the start of the 2.5-hour race. After a bold pit call saw the Turner Motorsport team take just two Continental Tires during the stop, the duo bolted to the front. But with the other runners taking on four new tires, they were powerless to defend at the end, finishing third, ending their shot at the championship title.
Instead, it was the long-time leaders Charles Espenlaub and Charlie Putman who powered to fifth at the finish and took the Grand Sport championship.
"It hasn't sunk in, but this is the neatest thing," Putman said. "We've been working at this together for years and years, and for it to come together is just like a dream."
The Street Tuner (ST) Class Championship could hardly have been closer, as two teams were tied in points and the championship was decided by a tie-breaker.
Entering the event, the Bimmerworld BMW of Bill Heumann and Seth Thomas enjoyed a healthy 19-point lead. But moments into the race a driveline problem caused a lengthy pit stop for repairs. The team fought back but the damage was done and this put the No. 81 BimmerWorld/GearWrench BMW 328i on the same points as the No. 74 Honda of David Thilenius and Lawson Aschenbach "My team was on the radio every lap telling me what to do," Aschenbach said. "The clutch was making a knocking noise but we pushed hard and continued to fight. Things needed to fall our way, and they did."
The points margin was so great that Thilenius hadn't thought it would be possible. "I came here knowing we were so far back in the points that I didn't even consider the scenarios," Thilenius said. "It's a real shame for the Bimmerworld guys, because they've had a fantastic season, but the Compass360 team pushed all season."
Also in a celebratory mood were Ian Baas and Aaron Povoledo as the duo scored their first victory of the year for APR in the No. 91 VW GTI. "APR nailed it today," Povoledo said. "We got the absolute maximum out of it. It was a perfect day and a perfect race."
Owen Trinkler and Sarah Cattaneo finished second in ST as the team ended the season with three podium appearances including two wins with the No. 198 RSR/Cruise America Mini Cooper S.