2006 V8 StockCar GT-1 Champ Jeff Emery took the opening round of the 2007 V8 StockCar season on Sunday at the SCCA Winter Nationals at Sebring. Emery needed a little help and got it when leader Phil Simms got in some oil deposited by a backmarker and spun in turn 17.
While Emery was his usual wicked fast self, it looked for all the world that Simms, the tough, hard nosed 2006 SCCA National Champ was going to have his way with the field.
On Friday in testing, Simms made everyone take notice with a blistering fast lap of 2.03.909. The lap was right there with the fastest lap ever turned by a Trans-Am/GT-1 car at Sebring, and that by road racing superstar Boris Said.
Simm's immaculately turned out ex Tommy Kendall Rocketsports Jag took the pole on Saturday at a 2.04.547 despite having to deal with slower traffic and only getting in about one clean lap. Emery took the outside at 2.06.872 with Mike Canney in his new Rocketsports Corvette at 2.07.727.
South Florida's Kenny Bupp, a seasoned Trans Am and Grand Am veteran was fourth in his Hamilton Safe and Security Systems Camaro at 2.08.820.
On Sunday, at the green flag, Simms out dragged Emery by a half car length into turn one and made it stick, eventually pulling out to about a four and a half second lead over the worlds fastest road race stock car in just three laps. At that point the lead stabilized as the two were running nearly identical lap times around 2.06.
Midway through the 13 lap shootout Simms got into a well oiled turn 17 known as "Sunset Bend" and the resulting spin left him with a 10 second deficit he just couldn't overcome.
Emery stated after the race that he had also almost lost it several times on the slick track.
Just behind the drama up front, Mike Canney and Kenny Bupp were going at it, battling hard for the third spot, trading positions with Bupp finally taking it by a few tenths over the determined Canney.
The battle for fifth was just as heated as there was never more than a couple car lengths between Charles Wicht, the former Speed GT Camaro pilot, in his ex Kevin Harvick South West Tour car and long time South East SCCA and IMSA road race veteran Robert Borders in his C6 Corvette. The two came off the final turn side by side in four wheel drifts, using up all the track with Wicht edging Borders by a fender at the line.
Rob McElheny came home seventh in his ex Jim Briody Trans Am Camaro with Kim Ingravallo in her C6 Corvette, Glen Jung and Al Wicht rounding out the top ten.
Young gun, Jordan Bupp, in his ex Mike Canney C6 Corvette, and John Schaller in his Glacier Bear Camaro started shotgun on the field due to mechanical gremlins in qualifying, yet came ripping through the field together running some quick laps. Both had further bad luck and finished well down in the order despite their fine exhibition.
Photos from the event will be posted on the V8 StockCar gallery.
For more information on the series check out www.V8stockcar.com
The V8 StockCar series moves to Homestead Speedway next weekend with another race for the GT-1 cars before the full field including the stock cars takes to the track at Sebring in late February.
The V8 StockCar series thanks its' sponsors, Goodyear, Sunoco, Hoerr Racing Products, DRP, RaceCar Engineering and Advanced Grafix.