Just two weeks after taking a terrifying ride into a tire wall at 136 mph at Circuit of the Americas, Tim Bell was only seconds away from an improbable podium finish with his backup car and new co-driver Bryan Ortiz at the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (CTSCC) finale at Road Atlanta.
“We knew it was going to be a crazy race, so our goal was to stay calm, stay out of the mess and move forward,” said 26-year old car owner Bell. “Bryan did a great job for his first time in this car. We started losing power and it was cutting in and out with a fuel pickup issue at the very end, so it’s a shame we didn’t hold onto third, but still a solid finish to the year.”
Bell got off to a great start from his 11th starting spot and immediately started moving his black and orange 370Z NISMO up through the field. By the time he handed the car over after about an hour to NASCAR K&N Pro series driver Ortiz, the car was up to third and looking strong.
“My last race was in a stock car, so getting used to the brakes especially was an adjustment,” said the 25-year old Ortiz, a native of Puerto Rico. “We lost some track position after our final stop, but we got it back in the top five with about 20 minutes left. The team worked really hard to get the car setup right and I really enjoyed it. I hope we can put something together for next year.”
The Doran Racing #14 car went into the season finale with Brad Jaeger fifth in driver points and co-driver BJ Zacharias in seventh. Starting the car fifth, they hoped to move up after a solid season. Early on, it was clear that the car didn’t have the pace it had in qualifying.
“Even though we were running sixth, I could tell it was losing power,” said series veteran Zacharias. “We brought it in, but it was an alternator issue, so we took it back out to try to finish the best we could. It was frustrating because I felt like we had a car that could have won today.”
Zacharias passed Eric Curran, who retired his Camaro early on, giving the Doran drivers fifth and sixth place in the final driver’s championship standings.
Vesko Kozarov had another solid outing in the Skullcandy Nissan Altima 3.5, coming from the back of the field to finish seventh in the Street Tuner (ST) category. The GT Academy team of Bryan Heitkotter and Steve Doherty suffered some damage early and brought the Skullcandy/GT Academy Altima home 14th.
The final Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge for 2014 race will be broadcast on Sunday October 12 at noon ET on Fox Sports 1.