INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana – July 28, 2014 – The Doran Racing #14 Nissan NISMO 370Z RC driven by Brad Jaeger and B.J. Zacharias started sixth, set the second-fastest lap of the race and finished a hard-fought fourth Friday afternoon in Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge action on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course.
The Lebanon, Ohio-based team’s #41 Tower Events Nissan 370Z of Toronto-based drivers John Farano and David Empringham was the second-best mover in the Grand Sport class, as it started 17th and improved nine positions to take the checkered flag in eighth place. It had great pace too, as it recorded the fourth-fastest 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.
The beginning and the end of the race were the most thrilling for the red-and-white #14.
Jaeger, of Charlottesville, Va., went to the outside entering Turn 1 on the initial start and was able to vault from sixth to fourth before the field entered Turn 2.
Eighty-three laps later Andrew Aquilante passed Zacharias for fourth place, knocking the Cincinnati-based driver back to fifth. Zacharias wasn’t about to take that, however, and working the 86th and final lap he passed Aquilante back to regain fourth place both overall and in the Grand Sport class.
In between the start and the finish the entry was always in the thick of things. There were three full-course cautions on laps 13, 25 and 33 but as it turned out after that the race went green until the end, so both pit strategy and fuel mileage 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 3 gallons of fuel left at the checkered, so the three cars ahead of him likely finished the race with even less.
After his brilliant start, Jaeger ran most of his stint in eighth place, trying to conserve the car’s tires and avoid any contact. Due to pit stops by others he was up to fourth place when he pitted on lap 34 for his teammate to take over.
Zacharias started his stint in 28th position overall and 14th in class with 1:21 remaining. He set the entry’s fastest lap of the race on lap 38 when he turned the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in 1:35.427.
He broke back into the top 10 on lap 50, and then had good battles for position with Billy Johnson and Tom Kimber-Smith. He had been seventh and then rose to second due to pit stops when he pitted himself on lap 55. Then he had to work his way back up through the field again from ninth place.
The clouds over Speedway, Ind., thickened at that point and sprinkles were reported on pit lane with about 34 minutes remaining, but the rain held off. Zacharias was seventh again with 23 minutes remaining, but he moved up to sixth when Dane Cameron finally pitted with about 20 minutes remaining. He passed Aquilante’s Mustang for fifth place on lap 76, and he got fourth when the fourth-place Subaru of Pierre Kleinubing suffered a cut tire. After the seesaw battle with Aquilante he got fourth again on the very last lap.
Farano started 17th but like Jaeger he had a good start too and moved up a couple spots. He had a good battle with Lucas Bize’s Mustang and he advanced to 13th in the first 20 minutes of the race. He was in 15th when he pitted and turned the car over to Empringham in perfect condition at approximately the one-hour mark.
Empringham started his stint in 18th place in class but he got to work immediately, setting the car’s fastest lap of the race shortly after he took the wheel. 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 in 12th, only two spots behind his sister car.
Empringham was tenth with just 16 minutes remaining. He got ninth due to Kleinubing’s problem and he passed Billy Johnson’s Mustang for eighth place working lap 80 with less than 10 minutes left for the solid top-10 finish.
The race will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 at noon Eastern time Aug. 3.
The next event is Aug. 9-10 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.
For more information on Doran Racing, see DoranRacing.com and the team’s Facebook page.
Post-race quotes follow:
Brad Jaeger: “We had a good car, for sure. The Doran Racing team did a really good job.
“The highlight of my stint was the start. It looked like the polesitter had a problem going into Turn 1. Some drivers behind him checked up, and it allowed me to get around the two Mustangs and go from sixth to fourth.
“We ran with the leaders throughout the race. I just tried to keep the tires under me; our tire wear was pretty good.
“The way the pit stops developed, we were in the third block of cars that pitted, and we were the front-runners of that group. We made two pit stops; the one at the end was for fuel and outside tires.
“It was a good points day, so we’re happy!”
B.J. Zacharias: “It was a clean race. We were faster than a lot of cars. I think everybody’s brakes were shabby at best though.
“When Andrew Aquilante got around me, it was at the chicane and he had a pretty easy pass. I wasn’t comfortable trying to out-brake him, but I got him in Turn 7 or 8 I think. Going through 7 the line is to come back to your left, and he went into the marbles a little and I passed him on the inside. We ran door to door and it was clean. There was no contact. He’s a good kid and it’s fun to race against him because he races clean.
“It was a challenging race. The yellows were interesting. I think we had good pace throughout the race.
“It sprinkled a little, but that didn’t affect us.
“It was a hard race, just because the brake zones are so high-speed, but I think our tire wear was good and that we had one of the best-handling cars here. Set-up wise, Kevin [Doran] nailed it. We had a really good car.
“We only had about 3 gallons of fuel left, and we pitted after the top three cars pitted. I think another couple of laps they would have had to pit. It would have been awesome to be on the podium, but we’ll take the points. Some of the cars ahead of us in the points didn’t have a strong day today.
“The car was really good. It’s a good points day and we’ll take them and go on to Road America. We’ve been strong there in the past so we’ll go there and see what happens.”
David Empringham: “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. The Doran Racing guys did a great job on the set-up.
“We were unlucky with how they did that one yellow; the pits opened but then the race went green. I guess I need to read the rulebook again to understand how that works.
“My cool suit didn’t work so I was a little uncomfortable, but the car was so strong that it made it fun. If we can get luckier we can win one of these races.
“Neither John nor I had any contact that I know of. I got really lucky with 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.
“Now we go to Road America. This car was dominant there last year. The whole series is even more competitive now than it was last year, but I don’t see why our car won’t be as good or better there than we were here, so I’m optimistic.”