ALTON, Virginia – August 26, 2014 — Brad Jaeger had Doran Racing’s #14 Nissan NISMO 370Z up to fifth place on lap 20 in Saturday’s IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at VIRginia International Raceway when a failing alternator caused him to lose control on the backstretch. The car went into a series of spins, careening sideways on the track at about 155 miles per hour right in front of traffic and then onto the grass trackside.
Somehow Jaeger’s fellow competitors didn’t T-bone him. Even more amazingly, he didn’t land in a gravel trap or a tire wall. He proceeded back to the pits with aplomb, and didn’t even bring out a full-course caution flag.
Unfortunately he didn’t get off scot-free, however. Although the crew did an amazing job, it took 10 laps to make repairs and/or replace the necessary parts, spoiling the top-running Nissan’s chances for a podium finish.
Jaeger, co-driver B.J. Zacharias and the rest of the team soldiered on. Although it wasn’t in contention anymore, in the late stages of the race the Nissan ran as fast or faster than any other car on the course. Zacharias is convinced his mount was the car to beat, and Jaeger is sure the car could have won. The mechanical failure and spin were costly, however, and the team ended up 17th in the Grand Sport class at the checkered flag after 2.5 hours of competition on a hot, humid day near the Virginia/North Carolina border.
The race started with the #14 gaining one spot before the green even dropped. One of its rivals failed post-qualifying technical inspection, so Jaeger started eighth. He had been ninth on the provisional grid after he qualified with a time of 1:59.311.
Jaeger, who is from Charlottesville, Va., and is studying for his Masters degree at the University of Virginia there, got off to a great start. He had a great battle with Tom Kimber-Smith in the early going of the race, and he set the car’s fastest lap of the race on lap three with a time of 2:00.660 for the 3.27-mile, 18-turn road course.
A half-hour into the race Jaeger was seventh, 0.767 of a second behind Ian James, who was driving the Aston-Martin that eventually won, and 0.295 of a second ahead of Kimber-Smith. Three minutes later the first full-course caution flew when Ted Giovanis stopped in Turn 1 due to a blown engine in his BMW. A couple of front-runners elected to make pit stops at that time, and Jaeger was fifth for the restart on lap 20 before the spin occurred on the backstretch.
After the repairs were made, Zacharias got into the cockpit and started his stint around the halfway point of the race, 19th in class and 10 laps down. Ironically two laps later the driver Jaeger had been battling and was ahead of at the time of the spin, Kimber-Smith, was leading when the 370Z returned to the fray.
With the team’s hopes for a podium finish here dashed, Zacharias simply soldiered on and logged the time he needed in order to gain any points he could. That doesn’t mean he was slow, however. He set lap times that were comparable with the leaders in the process.
Jaeger got back in the car for the last 22 minutes of the race to ensure he had satisfied the time requirements to earn points, and once again he was fast. He was in the car at the finish, where the team was scored 17th in class.
A couple of other top runners also ran into problems at VIR and there are two races remaining this year, so every point is important. Jaeger was fourth and Zacharias was fifth in the driver point standings going into Saturday’s race. Unofficially they are now sixth and seventh, respectively.
The next race is at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas Sept. 20. The season finale is Oct. 3-4 at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga.
Saturday’s race will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 at 10 a.m. Eastern time this Sunday, Aug. 31.
For more information on Doran Racing, see DoranRacing.com and the team’s Facebook page. The series’ Web site is at imsa.com.
Driver quotes follow:
Brad Jaeger: “We had been having issues with the alternator; it was dying. I had a low voltage warning, and I radioed in and the team was going to have me come in. When the voltage dropped it affected other things, like the radio and then the ECU, and the engine started to misfire.
“Right after the restart, I was on the backstretch going about 155 miles per hour. When the alternator finally died as soon as I hit the brakes it locked up the rear wheels and I went for one crazy, wild ride.
“I don’t know how many spins I did; maybe two or three, but it sort of felt like just one long one. Luckily I had a sense of where the cars around me were. I knew where the cars ahead of me were, but I didn’t know where all the cars behind me were. I was trying to modulate the brakes and not hit anyone. I was just fortunate that there wasn’t a big crash.
“I got the car refired and got back to the pits. Actually we were pretty lucky considering what could have happened for that kind of failure at that speed.
“It was just unfortunate. The team worked so hard getting the car as good as possible, and we had one of the best cars that we’ve had all year. Later in the race I passed the people running third and fourth, although we were many laps down at the time.
“We were really quick here. I had a good battle with Tom Kimber-Smith before the spin. He passed me once at the Oak Tree Turn, and I passed him back on the outside of Turn 1.
“The Nissan definitely suited this track. We need long runs, and there was only one full-course caution, so that was playing into our favor too. It was just an unfortunate mechanical failure.
“Now we’ll just refocus, concentrate on the two races we have ahead of us, and see how many points we can make up.
“That’s racing. Everyone at Doran Racing should be proud of their efforts though. We worked hard together as a team. Now we’ll refocus and go on to COTA.”
B.J. Zacharias: “We had THE car to beat. The alternator connection broke and killed the battery.
“The team did an awesome job and pretty much right off the trailer we were fast.
“Brad had a great opening stint with some seriously tight racing.
“The crew did a great job getting the wiring fixed and the battery changed.
“We were one of the fastest Grand Sport cars at the end. I was running 2:01s.
“It’s one of those things that just happen in this sport.”