year's SEMA Award for the top trending vehicle models in
four categories were presented during the 2013 SEMA Show
in Las Vegas. The
Ford Mustang was named
Hottest Car, the Scion FR-S took the Hottest Sport
Compact honors, the Ford F-Series won Hottest Truck and
the Jeep Wrangler received the Hottest 4x4-SUV award.
SEMA Show exhibitors chose the
Ford Mustang, Ford F-Series, Scion FR-S and Jeep
Wrangler as the winners of the 2013 SEMA Award.
Presented in four categories—Hottest Car, Hottest Truck,
Hottest Sport Compact Car and Hottest 4X4/SUV—the SEMA
Award recognizes vehicle models that specialty-equipment
manufacturers believe are the best platforms for
accessorization and that showcase the year’s coolest
Check out more pictures of the show here:
O'Connell and Aschenbach Win at Houston, Claim Drivers'
TX - Johnny
O’Connell, of Flowery Branch, GA (GT) and Lawson
Aschenbach, of Jupiter, FL (GTS) captured Pirelli World
Challenge class championships after dramatic victories
in the 14th and final round of the 2013 season. The
FOAMETIX Grand Prix of Houston was part of the Shell and
Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston weekend.
O’Connell secured his
second straight GT Drivers' Championship, driving
the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V.R.
Meanwhile Aschenbach achieved his third Pirelli
World Challenge title, in a third different class.
The driver of the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop
Chevrolet Camaro took his first GTS championship.
Aschenbach won the GT class championship in 2006 and
the Touring Car championship in 2011.
Both O’Connell and
Aschenbach entered the race second in points in
their respective classes. But the points leaders
each lost out in dramatic fashion at the end of the
race, with James Sofronas (GT) losing out after a
late race flat tire, and Jack Baldwin (GTS) dropping
down the order after running second most of the
O’Connell’s win was his fifth this season, and
Aschenbach’s was his sixth. Both drivers led their
respective classes in wins this year.
GT and GTS drivers had not had any on-track sessions
on the 1.634-mile MD Anderson Center Speedway at
Reliant Park since Friday’s second practice.
Complicating things further was the fact that
Friday’s sessions were run in the heat and with high
humidity, while Sunday’s Round 14 began in 59 degree
temperatures in wet, rainy conditions.
Points leaders Sofronas,
of Villa Park, CA in the No. 14 The Thermal
Club/Swisher Racing/GMG Audi R8 and Baldwin, of
Marietta, GA in the No. 73 Motul/StopTech/Foametix
Porsche Cayman S started on pole as a result of
qualifying being canceled because of track
alterations and time constraints.
The race began with two laps under yellow and the
start switched from a standing start to a single
file, rolling start, due to the wet conditions.
Sofronas got away cleanly in GT while in GTS,
Aschenbach surged ahead of Baldwin after starting
There was an incident at Turn 3 as Alex Figge, of
Denver, CO, in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60,
dove down the inside of his teammate Randy Pobst, of
Gainesville, GA and series debutante Rene Rast, of
Minden, Germany, on the outside, heading into the
90-degree left-hander. Figge’s car contacted Rast’s
No. 95 Swisher Racing/GMG Audi R8 LMS and they both
hit the tire barriers, but were able to resume.
Pobst emerged from the chaos unscathed in the No. 6
K-PAX Racing Volvo S60.
Sofronas then led the Cadillac teammates of
O’Connell and Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, FL in the
No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V.R. At one point
Sofronas surged ahead of O'Connell and Pilgrim.
Asked if it was a strategic move to let Sofronas run
out front, O'Connell responded with "there was
absolutely no strategy in that at all. You gotta
give credit to James Sofronas and the Audi guys. It
was all I could do to stay close. We have a couple
things we could play with in terms of traction
control. I fell back to fourth and had to come back.
If the fans didn’t enjoy watching this race, man,
they’re not gonna enjoy anything."
Behind them Pobst, whose Volvo with all-wheel drive
excelled in the conditions, charged forward along
with Rast, who wound up setting laps anywhere from
two to three seconds faster than the leaders.
Pobst got past O’Connell for second on Lap 7 and
immediately began closing down the gap to Sofronas
in the lead as the GT field cycled through GTS
traffic. By Lap 17, as the track conditions
continued to improve, the top four in GT could
basically be covered by a blanket – Sofronas led
from Pobst, O’Connell and Rast.
Sofronas’ Audi, though, failed to keep up the pace
as the track conditions improved. Pobst and
O’Connell moved through for first and second by Lap
23, and that put Sofronas into the clutches of his
teammate, Rast, and Pilgrim in the second Cadillac.
The GT championship turned on its axis on Lap 25. At
the same time a call from Race Control was issued
for the two Audis and Pilgrim’s Cadillac to “clean
it up,” Sofronas incurred a left rear puncture and
had to retreat to the pits for repairs. Pilgrim was
later issued a drive-through penalty for avoidable
contact, which he served.
By Lap 26 O’Connell had moved ahead of Pobst for the
race lead, which confirmed his place at the head of
the GT points standings. The move also secured
O’Connell the Cadillac Move of the Race Award.
"It was constantly changing conditions for the K-PAX
Volvo S60, which is all-wheel drive," said Pobst.
"When it was really wet we were in good shape. The
Cadillacs and Audi R8 of Sofronas ran really well
for the conditions though. I was conservative
because I knew I had a traction advantage. We have
AWD and no one else does. I hung on as long as I
could. The track started to dry a lot. GT/GTS cars
dried this track up, and the drier it got, the
slower I got."
With O'Connell in the lead Sofronas pitted, and a
win would net O’Connell the championship regardless
of Sofronas’ finishing position.
O’Connell took the win over Pobst, Pilgrim, Rast and
Sofronas. O’Connell averaged 75.820 mph over the 30
lap, 42 minute race.
"People at every level of Cadillac support us and
give Andy and I amazing race cars," said O'Connell.
"Coming down to the wire, I lost a lot of sleep over
it. That’s really the way a championship should be
decided. When you have a great car it makes things a
lot easier. I'm emotionally tired just because your
guys, they’re counting on you."
Aschenbach took the lead from Baldwin after the
green flag on Lap 3. But Aschenbach needed Baldwin
to finish either third or fourth or worse, depending
on bonus points gained, in order to overtake the
season-long GTS class points leader.
"The biggest thing I knew coming in, we had to win
and lead most laps, and hope things fell our way and
they did," said Aschenbach. "I got a good start and
a jump on Jack to get the lead. Peter and Mark
eventually caught up and I'm glad it ended how it
ended. More importantly, big thanks and job well
done to everyone at Blackdog Speed Shop and
Baldwin held second most of the race but as the
afternoon progressed, pressure began to mount in
Baldwin’s rear view mirror. Peter Cunningham, of
Milwaukee, WI in the No. 42 Acura/HPD/RealTime
Racing Acura TSX and Mark Wilkins, of Toronto, in
the No. 38 B.R.A.K.E.S. Kia Optima turbo were
running laps at a fast enough clip to catch, and
eventually pass, Baldwin.
Cunningham advanced to
second and Wilkins, who was running two to three
seconds per lap faster than Aschenbach in the waning
stages of the race, simply ran out of time. With a
fourth place finish Baldwin lost the title by just
Andy Lee, of Colorado Springs, CO in the No. 20 Best
IT/Crown Seven/Bondurant Chevrolet Camaro, rounded
out his season with fifth in GTS. One of
Cunningham’s earlier moves, past Lee, was awarded
the Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the Race Award.
Of note, local driver Don Istook, of River Oaks, TX,
took home the Optima Batteries Best Start Award with
a gain of seven positions at the end of the first
green lap in the No. 01 Milltek Exhaust/STaSIS/REVO
Audi TT RS. Istook finished 14th in the GTS class.
Also of note, Brian Kleeman, of Towson, MD was the
Sunoco Hard Charger Award winner after advancing
seven spots from his grid position by the checkered
flag in the No. 07 DXD Clutches/DWW Motorsports
Shelby Joins Hall of Fame
Carroll Shelby, founder of
the Carroll Shelby Foundation, Carroll Shelby Licensing
Inc., and Shelby American, Inc., wholly owned
subsidiaries of Carroll Shelby International Inc.,
(CSBI.PK), has been inducted into the Sports Car Club of
America (SCCA) Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony took
place at the SCCA’s Annual Meeting on March 2, 2013, at
the South Point Hotel in Las Vegas. The award will
reside with the Carroll Hall Shelby Trust and eventually
the Carroll Shelby Foundation, established by the
automotive legend in 1991 after his successful heart
“Carroll Shelby is an icon in
the automotive performance industry,” said SCCA
President and CEO Jeff Dahnert. “He impacted the SCCA as
a competitor, as an automotive designer and builder, and
his influence within the motorsports world elevated
SCCA. We are very proud to have had him as a member of
the SCCA and now as a member of the SCCA Hall of Fame.”
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