Joao Barbosa and Darren Law in the No. 9 Action Express Coyote-Corvette took the lead with sixteen minutes left in the Grand Am Rolex Sahlen’s Six hours of Watkins Glenn and fought off counterattacks by Alex Gurney in the No. 99 Gainsco Coyote-Corvette to win the team’s first race of the season.
Radiator damage cost a lap for the early leader, the Telmex-Ganassi Riley BMW of points leaders Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas. With this car sidelined, the Gainsco Coyote-Corvette of Gurney and co-driver Jon Fogarty led most of the rest of the race.
Joao Barbosa took the lead 16 minutes from the end with a brilliant bit of driving, squeezing his car cleanly between the Gainsco Coyote and a GT Ferrari, threading a needle at 120 mph without making contact.
“It was so competitive; everybody had such a good pace. I saw the opportunity—I had to push a little but I saw an opportunity, that hole in traffic, and I thought, ‘It’s now or never,’” Barbosa told Speed-TV.
Gurney had one really good chance to take the lead back, but was baulked by a driver who wasn’t using his mirrors. After that Gurney stayed within striking distance but Barbosa never gave him an opening. Gurney finished .238 seconds behind the Action Express car after six hours of racing.
The Six Hours was also the second round of the North American Endurance Championship; Barbosa and Law won twenty points in that three-race sub-series by leading at both the halfway point and the end. Action Express now leads the series by two points; the final race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27 will decide the championship.
The win was the second of the season for the new driver pairing of Barbosa and Law; the chemistry seems to have clicked, because the pair won its first race together, the Chevrolet Grand-Am Detroit 200 in June and now have added the Six Hours at the Glen.
In GT the No. 57 Stevenson Camaro of Robin Liddell and John Edwards took its first win of the series. A caution period in the final hour left a lot of teams guessing about when or if to pit, and how hard to push. Stevenson racing got the math right; the car had just enough fuel to finish, crossing the line 1.34 seconds ahead of the No. 94 Turner BMW of Bill Auberlen, Paul Dalla Lana and Billy Johnson.
“I am so proud of the guys they did an awesome job today,” team owner/driver Liddell told Speed. “It’s really emotional because we’ve been fighting so hard this year we just never seemed to catch a break. We had solid results but no real pace to get it done and John did an awesome job.
“Great strategy; we finished with half a gallon [of fuel.]”
Stevenson split the NEAC points with the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda, but still leads the GT class heading into the decisive Indianapolis event.