INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana – The Doran Racing #14 Nissan NISMO 370Z RC driven by Brad Jaeger and B.J. Zacharias started sixth, set the second-fastest race lap and finished a hard-fought fourth Friday afternoon in Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (CTSCC) action on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's road course.
The team's #41 Tower Events Nissan 370Z of Canadians John Farano and David Empringham was the second-best mover in the Grand Sport class, starting 17th and improving nine positions to take the checkered flag in eighth place. Empringham recorded the fourth-fastest race lap of the event.
It was the fourth top-five finish for the #14 in the first eight races of the season, and it was the third top-10 finish for the #41 in seven events in this very competitive series.
Tim Bell Racing’s #28 370Z NISMO was running in second place with about 20 minutes left when driver Dane Cameron ran out of fuel as it entered the pit road. The black and orange Z appeared poised for a top 10 finish after a strong run, but it had to be pushed to the pit box for refueling, relegating Cameron and Bell to 18th spot.
The closing laps provided some spirited racing for series veteran B.J. Zacharias in the #14 370Z NISMO. Mustang Boss 3012 driver Andrew Aquilante passed Zacharias just three laps from the end, knocking the Cincinnati-based driver back to fifth position. Zacharias, wasn't about to concede, running more than a second a lap faster to catch and pass Aquilante on the final lap to regain fourth place at the flag.
"When Aquilante got around me, it was at the chicane and he had a pretty easy pass,” said Zacharias. “I wasn't comfortable trying to out brake him, but he went into the marbles a little coming out of turn seven and I passed him on the inside. We ran door-to-door and it was clean. (Andrew) is a good kid and it's fun to race against him because he races clean.”
The race featured three full-course cautions on laps 13, 25 and 33, but the final 53 laps were run under green so fuel strategy posed interesting challenges. The podium finishers all pitted on lap 53, and Zacharias made the #14's final pit stop on lap 67. He said he only had about three gallons of fuel left at the checkered, so the three cars ahead of him likely finished the race with even less.
Empringham started his stint in the #41 Nissan in 18th place, and he started aggressively, setting the car's fastest lap of the race shortly after taking over. He was embroiled in a torrid battle with Jade Buford's Mustang at the halfway point, but by lap 48 with an hour to go he was up to 12th, two spots behind his sister car. Empringham passed Billy Johnson's Mustang for eighth place with less than 10 minutes left for the solid eighth place finish.
"We struggled with our handling in practice and qualifying, but the team worked really hard and we had a really good car in the race,” said Empringham. “The Doran Racing guys did a great job on the set-up. Neither John nor I had any contact that I know of. I got really lucky with (catching) the ST cars during my stint. I enjoyed the track more than I expected to, and we're pleased to finish in the top 10.”
The Indy CTSCC race will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 at noon Eastern time Aug. 3. The next CTSCC event is Aug. 9-10 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.
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