KANSAS CITY, Kansas – June 8, 2014 – Doran Racing finished eighth in Saturday night’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Kansas Speedway, but that doesn’t begin to tell the Lebanon, Ohio-based team’s story of perseverance, determination and just plain heart.
An honest mistake early in the race caused a penalty that helped put the team a lap down with its #14 Nissan NISMO 370Z RC. That threw team owner Kevin Doran’s race strategy out the window, but his team regrouped, put their heads down and just kept trying. Anyone watching closely had to smile and give them a tip of the old fedora when they had to pit in the last two minutes of the race for more fuel, but then set the fastest lap anyone turned during the two-hour-and-30-minute race on their very last lap.
It was definitely a statement, even if they were still a lap down when they did it.
Things began well enough. The starting driver, Brad Jaeger of Charlottesville, Va., qualified sixth but actually got to start fifth when a Mustang was penalized after post-qualifying technical inspection. He moved into fourth place right away, and then settled back into fifth on his fourth trip around the six-turn, 2.37-mile road course. He moved back into fourth place on lap eight, and then made a pit stop under the event’s first of two full-course caution flags on lap 12, about 22 minutes into the race.
With two cars in front of him blocking his view of lights that he said were hard to see in the first place, the trio of cars left pit lane at the wrong time and all three drew 60-second penalties. After the penalty was served Jaeger dropped to 44th place overall and 19th in the Grand Sport class, and was one lap down.
Jaeger kept trying, however, and the #14 started to creep back up the scoring pylon. He set his fastest lap of the race on lap 41 with a 1:22.560, and at the halfway point he was 11th overall and 11th in class. Some other drivers had to pit around that time, and when he made his third pit stop he was ironically in the position the car would finish, eighth place.
His co-driver, B.J. Zacharias of Cincinnati, took over in 14th overall and 14th in class. His drive was immediately slowed by the event’s second full-course caution flag on lap 54, and with some more pit stops by other rivals he was 11th for the restart on lap 61, although he was still one lap down.
Zacharias broke back into the top 10 with 34 minutes left in the contest, posting a 1:22.138 on lap 68 just for emphasis. He got ninth with 28 minutes to go, and was seventh with 18 minutes remaining.
When David Levine dropped back with just 4 minutes to go Zacharias moved into sixth place, and he was still in that position with 2 minutes to go when he had to make the car’s fourth pit stop for a splash of fuel.
Remarkably two other cars had to pit at the end too.
Just to give the bizarre finish an extra dash of pizzazz, after Zacharias came out of the pits he not only set his fastest lap of the race on his very last lap, but he set the fastest lap anyone ran in the race with a 1:21.876 on his 96th lap, taking the checkered with a flourish despite still being one lap down to the winning Aston Martin.
The team’s next race is June 28-29 at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y. More information is available on the series’ Web site at imsa.com and on the team’s Web site at DoranRacing.com. The team also has a Facebook page.
Driver post-race quotes follow:
Brad Jaeger: “We had a car to win. I want to thank Doran Racing, Nissan and just everyone involved for all their efforts.
“I made a mistake leaving pit lane and got a 60-second stop-and-go penalty that put us a lap down. Apparently pit lane was closed. The lights were difficult to see and I also had two cars ahead of me that went, so I went too, and we all got penalties. It was very unfortunate.
“But everyone on our team kept trying as hard as they could. B.J. was driving the car with everything he could at the end.
“I didn’t have any accidents but I had some light contact with a couple of people. It was just racing; it wasn’t enough to get me out of shape. B.J. had some issues with the 07 Aston Martin that I’ll let him tell you about.
“This was the first time I’ve been to Kansas Speedway and I love the track. It’s very different. It has some very unusual entries that really make you drive the car. It’s challenging and I personally enjoyed the track. But what a wild race!”
B.J. Zacharias: “We had to come in for fuel there at the end. I was just trying to put my foot in it as hard as I could. The checkered came out and I didn’t even know it. But we got the fastest lap of the race on the very last lap.
“When I got in Kevin said let’s just see if we can make up some positions, and then the yellow came out. When the green waved I just put my head down and went.
“The Aston Martin that won hit me several times. I am not in James Davison’s fan club. I have an issue with his driving tonight. One time he ran me very wide in Turn 1. Then once on the frontstretch, which is curved here, he turned right and hit me three times. Then about 30 minutes later he hit me again. I try to drive clean, and that was unacceptable as far as I’m concerned.
“But the Doran Racing team did a really good job here. We had a little mistake early, but the team showed its professionalism and kept digging. I’m proud of the boys today.
“I don’t know if this is the hardest eighth-place finish I’ve ever had, but right now it sure feels like it. We put our heads down and didn’t give up, and at the end of the day we made some good points. We’ll go to the Glen with a car that we know is very good.
“And now, Kevin and I are going to go eat funnel cakes and ice cream.”