SRO, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 2020

James Clay in the #36 BimmerWorld M240i Racing emerged from the SRO season finale at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the 2020 Touring Car championship. BMW was a contender in the SprintX GT4 championship chase as well; Nick Wittmer and Harry Gottsacker in the #28 ST Racing M4 GT4 finished a close second to McLaren racers Jared Andretti and Colin Mullan in Silver Class drivers’ points for the season; at Indy they finished second in class in both races.

It was a busy weekend at the Brickyard, where SRO shared the track with Indy Car, Skip Barber Racing, and the Intercontinental GT Challenge, another SRO series. With the crowded schedule, racing began on Thursday afternoon for Sprint X with the first of two sixty-minute races run at 5:00 PM. The second in class, third overall finish by Wittmer and Gottsacker was BMW’s best performance of the race. Cole Ciraulo and Tim Barber in the #25 CCR Team TFB racing M4 GT4 finished fourth in silver, and ST Racing’s Jon Miller and Samantha Tan in the #28 M4 GT4 finished sixth. In the Pro-Am class, the best BMW finishers were Bill Auberlen and James Walker, Jr., who were sixth overall and third in class in the #82 BimmerWorld M4 GT4. The overall and Pro-Am win went to the #37 Porsche Cayman of Charlie Belluardo and Jan Heylen, while Panoz racers Parker Chase and Roman DeAngelis were second overall and first in Silver.

The second SprintX race was run at 8:00 AM on Friday. Battles for the title were close; late in the race a hard-charging Wittmer closed on Andretti in the McLaren, but he could not get by; the two cars finished third and fourth overall. Ahead of them, Michael Dinan in the Flying Lizard Aston Martin that he shared with Robby Foley held off title rival Matt Travis in the Porsche Cayman that he shared with Jason Hart. Foley and Dinan won the Pro-Am title. Miller and Tan finished the race third in Silver, while Barber and Ciraulo finished fourth. Auberlen and Walker were fourth in Pro-Am. Greg Liefooghe and Sean Quinlan in the #19 Stephen Cameron M4 GT4 had a rough weekend, finishing well back in race two and not finishing race one. In the Silver class, Toby Grahovec and Chandler Hull also had a difficult weekend, not finishing race one and finishing sixth in class in race two. ST Racing’s Miller and Tan finished fourth in Silver drivers’ points for the season and ST Racing won the team championship.

Sean Quinlan in the #119 Stephen Cameron Racing M4 GT4 was once again the only BMW racer running in the GT4 Sprint series. He finished third in the AM class in race one and eighth in race two.

Mat Pombo in the #73 LA Honda World Civic Type R won the Touring Car class in both races, giving notice to the M240iR runners who had dominated the season before Indy that there was a serious new contender in the class. Behind Pombo, Toby Grahovec in the #26 Classic BMW M240i Racing (the only competitor with a chance to catch Clay in the title chase) finished second, 2019 champion Johan Schwartz in the #31 Hard Motorsports M240iR finished third, and Mike LaMarra finished fourth in the second Civic. Clay, who had run with Grahovec and Schwartz early, fell back after contact with another car; he finished eighth, leaving Grahovec’s title hopes alive for the final race.

But Grahovec would have had to win the final race to take the title, and even then Clay would have had to finish eighth or worse. Neither of these things happened; Pombo ran away with the class, leaving Grahovec second at the end ahead of his Classic BMW teammate Jason Lew. Clay, in the middle of close battles throughout the race, finished fourth to secure his title. Grahovec finished the season second in drivers points, with Schwartz third. Grahovec’s Classic BMW team won the team championship. The Hondas will be back in 2021, when BMW should be fielding the M2 CS Racing. It promises to be another great season.

In race one for the TCA class that runs along with TC, the Mini of Mark Pombo finished second behind Honda racer Kevin Boehm, who won the class drivers’ crown with one race remaining. Clay Williams was ninth in a second Mini, and Tomas Mejia in the third Mini exited the race with a clutch problem.

In the second race, Eric Powell, driving the #22 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ tS won ahead of Boehm and the three Minis of Pombo, Mejia, and Williams. Mejia was second in season drivers’ points behind Boehm, and Pombo was third. The Mini JCW team finished the season second in TCA team points to Boehm Racing.—Brian Morgan

[Photos Courtesy SRO America.]

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