LEEDS, Ala. – "For the Want of a Nail" goes the old proverb recounting an ancient battle that was lost because a horse lost its shoe. In the case of the Doran Racing-NISMO 370Z, that 'nail' was a broken plastic connector on an aftermarket racing alternator, but the results were the same.
The Doran Z started the race from row three and set out on a mission, hunting down and passing two Camaros, two Aston Martins and, finally, the race leading BMW M3 driven by pole sitter Charles Espenlaub.
"That was a fantastic race car we had out there today. We definitely had the car to win this race, it was so balanced and fun to drive," said starting driver Tim Bell. "It's a shame we couldn't make it to Victory Lane today."
Leading the race at the one hour mark of the 150-minute enduro, Bell pitted for fuel. With a fast stop he re-entered the race in eighth place, with most of the cars in front of him due to make their fuel stops soon. Then the alternator stopped charging the battery, giving Bell about five laps before he had to bring the car in unscheduled at about the halfway point of the race.
"We use an aftermarket alternator that is designed for sustained high RPM conditions in racing. A harmonic in this race car caused the plastic connector to snap off one of the spade pins and interrupted the current to the battery," said team owner Kevin Doran. "It's a small part, but in racing you have to have all the small things working for the full distance to win."
An alternator change would have been required to continue, but the relatively short duration of the event made it impossible to stay competitive for the race.
The Daytona-winning Skullcandy Altima Coupe was once again heading to a top five finish in the ST class when an axle broke just 2:45 from the finish. Vesko Kozarov had just passed into sixth position and was gaining on the fourth and fifth place cars when he felt a pop and lost power.
"The car was again very strong, and it looked like we had a chance at a top five today," said Kozarov. "These race cars have historically been quite durable and fast, but racing at a tight track like Barber we put a lot of load on the suspensions and tires up front. We'll be ready to go again at Road Atlanta"
A second team Altima, driven by former Navy Seal Geoff Reeves and Bondurant Driving Instructor Andy Lee, had to fight back from a pit row speeding penalty and a gearbox problem that sidelined the car just past the halfway point.
The Continental Tire Challenge race from Barber Motorsports Park will air flag-to-flag on SPEED TV on Sat. April 13 at 2 pm EDT/1 pm Central.
The next Continental Tire Challenge event is at Road Atlanta in Flowery Branch, Georgia on Saturday, April 20 at 2:00 pm EDT.
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