ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—Jack Roush Jr. won his first Pirelli World Challenge GTS race Friday afternoon in a runaway. His second GTS win, in the second GTS race of the IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Pete weekend Saturday, evening, was a significantly tougher fight.
Roush made a bad start, dropped to fourth, fought his way to third, and took over the lead after a restart on lap 28. He was pressured to the end by an insistent Brent Sandberg, driver of the #13 KTM X-Bow, but held off his last-turn charge. Sandberg had to be satisfied with his second second-place finish of the weekend.
“I didn’t get a good start at all. I got a lot of wheel spin and I dropped to fourth,” said Roush Jr. after the race. “Then I tried to get the tires up to temperature and be smart in every turn. I was on my marks as best as possible. It was a battle the whole time. A much tougher race than Friday.
“The late restart was such a rush that I don’t remember that much of it. I have a lot of respect with the guys I race with in the GTS class. I didn’t know that Brett (Sandberg) was on the outside in the final corner. I don’t think I touched him. I was just focused on the front and getting to the checkered flag.”
The restart from which Roush benefitted cost the race for his team mate Nathan Stacy, who was leading when he went off at Turn 13.
“This is kind of bittersweet today because I thought Nate (Stacy) was going to run away,’ Rousg said. “I really felt bad for him when I saw him hit the wall. He really has a lot of talent and I’m sure we are going to see a lot of great results from him in the future.”
Roush’s team mate Nathan Stacy in the #14 Roush Performance Mustang Boss 302 took the lead from the green flag, and held it after a Lap Six caution brought on a restart. Stacy’s led shrank lap after lap as Brent Sandberg pressed forward, until Lap 22, when a momentary lapse in focus ended Stacy’s day.
“I came around the turn 11 corner and hit the curb on the inside,” Stacy told PWC in the pits after his wreck. “Then when I landed the steering wheel had no input and I was just along for the ride. I just tried to save it and not hit anyone. Just glad that the KTM (Sandberg) wasn’t close or we both would have crashed. It was my own fault. I just hope that Jack (Roush Jr.) can avenge me and win the race now. Brett was on me pretty hard later in the race and I was hoping Jack could get by him and we could have the Roush finish 1-2 today. It just wasn’t the cards today.”
Stacy’s wreck brought out a yellow, and on the restart Roush used his Mustang’s big V8 to power into the lead. Brent Sandberg in the #13 KTM X-Bow pressed Roush hard actually drawing level in the final turn of the final lap, but ran out of road, scraped the wall, and had to back off.
“Overall, I am really happy for the crew because they worked very hard all weekend,” said Sandberg. “The track had changed today and the car was very loose compared to yesterday (Friday). I was trying to use my car’s advantages on the restart and make moves in the corners.
“I was hoping Jack’s big V-8 would get some wheel spin at the restart. He was able to out drag us down the front straight. I was trying to bide my time and get into position to make a move late in the race.
“At the end of the day, it was hard-fought battle and I gave it everything I had. I thought I had a chance in the final corner by going to the outside. I thought in my mind that Jack doesn’t know I’m here.
“He got a bit of run coming out of the final turn and I tried to stay on the throttle. But I touched the wall and I had to check up. I think if I had gotten side by side with him we might have bounced off each other. But he had a good run and I had to get off the throttle.”
“I fell back at the start as I had a problem in second gear,” said Chase. “I had a good battle with Lawson (Aschenbach) and I just waited to find a way by. Finally I was able to throw it into turn one and make the pass. I came here a little nervous because it was my first street course. But in the first session, I seemed to adapt well to the course.”