Jim Stout wins Saturday's US GT Championship race at New Jersey
After qualifying on pole position, Stout and his renowned purple Coastal Pet / Cool Shirt® sponsored Dodge Viper Competition Coupe led the field to the green flag and never looked back.
He finished 3 seconds clear of the field to take the trophy and contingency prizes from Hoosier Tire and Cool Shirt®.
Behind him though, the action was fast and furious. After starting in 4th Michael Hartley found his rhythm, and with the crowd cheering him on, started closing in on Russ Oasis and Lenny Diller.
After dispatching Oasis, Hartley caught and passed Diller for 2nd place heading into turn 1, much to the delight of the crowd.
Diller refused to give up the place without a fight, but it cost him. While trying to hold position, he found himself off-line heading through turn 2 and ran wide allowing Oasis into 3rd. Diller ended up 4th, both outright and in the GT-1 class.
Meanwhile, behind the them another battle raged. After passing Tom Antonelli heading into turn 1 for the first time, Steve Loudin took the GT-2 class lead. However, Antonelli didn't give up and the pair pushed each other to catch the GT-1 car of Adel Elsayed.
Seeing an opportunity to gap Antonelli, Loudin passed Elsayed into the tight left-hander, turn 5. As the race went on it looked as though the plan had worked. Loudin seemed to have Elsayed's measure, but late in the race the #02 Braille Battery sponsored driver picked up the pace. On the last lap he got a run on Loudin's gold Tricel Honeycomb sponsored Viper, heading into turn 1.
Sensing Elsayed's presence Loudin moved down into the corner, but Elsayed didn't back out. The pair made contact and Loudin was forced off into the dirt. This allowed Antonelli to pass them both, to take the GT-2 class win. Loudin finished second in class, and 7th overall. Elsayed ended up 6th overall, and fifth in GT-1.
Kathy Stout, wife of winner Jim Stout, and the only female in the USGTC field, completed the GT-2 podium, finishing 3rd in class.
A huge crowd gathered for the podium after the race. The cheering and applause summed up the excitement of the race and the day, that included nonstop on track action from the US GT Championship, as well as the Whelen US TimeTrial Championship, US Performance Driver Education program and the Dodge Viper Cup presented by Pennzoil Ultra.
Commenting on the win and the electric atmosphere, Jim Stout said:
"I had plenty in my mirrors on lap one and I watched them get further from my mirrors and I just got into a routine, lap after lap, and stayed away from the ragged edge.
It's great to see this many people spectating for us."
The win extends Jim Stout's lead in the GT-1 class championship.
Today's US GT Championship race at New Jersey Motorsports park was captured using GoPro cameras by the Internal Production Group and will be broadcast later this year on GoRacingTV.com, hosted by motorsport television personality Tom Hnatiw.
US GT Championship action continues tomorrow (Sunday, June 12) at New Jersey Motorsport park with qualifying and race two. Stay up to date with the latest news by following www.facebook.com/NARRAonline.