Corvette and Dodge Viper have won the final two rounds of the 2011 US GT
Championship, held at Daytona International Speedway (October 21-23).
Driving for Whelen Engineering
Marsh Racing, Eric Curran (GT-U / Chevrolet Corvette) took the overall victory
in Saturday's championship race from George Whelen (GT-U / Chevrolet Corvette)
and Jim Stout (GT-1 / Dodge Viper).
The top three changed
positions throughout the race with Curran crossing the line just ahead of his
team-mate Whelen, after a late safety-car period resulted in a one-lap dash for
the checkered flag.
The result also gave Curran
the GT-Unlimited class win from George Whelen and David Pintaric (Dodge Viper).
Stout, and his Coastal Pet /
Cool Shirt sponsored Dodge Viper Competition Coupe set the fastest lap of the
race with a 1:50.804. His third overall also gave him the win in GT-1.
Russ Oasis (2nd, Dodge Viper)
and Frank Lussier (3rd, Dodge Viper) completed Saturday's GT-1 podium.
In GT-2, Steve Loudin (Dodge
Viper) survived a spin in traffic to take the class win from Kathy Stout (Dodge
Viper) and Nathan Stokey (Dodge Viper).
On Sunday, perhaps feeling the
pressure of Dodge SRT CEO Ralph Gilles looking on, Jim Stout looked determined
to prove a point.
From the pole, Stout stretched
out a commanding lead over George Whelen.
Starting further down the pack
was NASCAR Truck Series star James Buescher, who replaced Eric Curran in the
number 33 Whelen Engineering entry.
Buescher had travelled
directly to Daytona after placing third in Saturday night's Truck race at
Talladega, and Sunday morning's practice session was his first time behind the
wheel of the Marsh Racing Chevrolet Corvette.
As he became acclimated to the
car, Buescher rocketed up the field in Sunday's race.
Sonny Whelen, who also started
from mid-pack in the 39 car grid, did the same, and by the time the safety car
came out in the closing stages of Sunday's race the team mates were lined up
behind Jim Stout's purple Viper.
In a repeat of Saturday,
Sunday's race ended with a short dash to the checkered flag, however this time
it would be over two laps.
This was still enough time for
Jim Stout to gap the Corvettes by eight seconds and end the season with a
convincing outright win from James Buescher and Sonny Whelen.
It was a dream ending to
Stout's year, with his two GT-1 class wins crowning him 2011 USGTC GT-1
Fittingly, Russ Oasis finished
second in class to take second in the GT-1 Championship, and Michael Hartley
(Dodge Viper) finished third in class to finish third in points.
Also finishing the year with
two class wins was Steve Loudin. He took the GT-2 win from Nathan Stokey and
The wins cemented the GT-2
Championship for Loudin, whose main Championship contender, Tom Antonelli,
withdrew from the weekend to concentrate on testing for next year's season.
In fact, Antonelli was
relegated to third in the championship after Kathy Stout's two podiums promoted
her to second in points.
Kevin Ferguson secured the
GT-Unlimited Championship with fifth in class in Sunday's race.
As the sunset over Daytona on
Sunday evening, the inaugural year of the US GT Championship drew to a close.
With such a successful year
behind it, and marques such as BMW, Corvette, Porsche and Viper regularly
represented, the series' claim, of being the home for high-end and
high-performance racing, now must surely be a reality.
full race and championship results head to NARRAonline.com.