July 25, 2005 / San Jose, Ca./Ryan C. - After a mid-season month's break, The Hankook United States Touring Car Championship returns to action this weekend for the most anticipated race of the season on the streets of Downtown San Jose as one of five support series races for the Champ Car World Series' Inaugural Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose.
The action begins Friday, July 29th with
The Hankook USTCC field on the track first for practice,
followed by Champ Car and the rest of support race series
- Historical NASCAR, Trans-Am Series, Toyota Atlantics
- then onto a 5:20PM qualifying, to wrap-up Friday's events.
The Hankook USTCC field will be taking the green flag
on Saturday, July 30th at 5:30 PM to kick off the Champ
Car Race weekend. The main event will be the Champ Car
Race on Sunday afternoon. This weekend will be the 4th
Round of The Hankook USTCC Series and we are expecting
another record-breaking car count on the starting grid.
The Grand Prix of San Jose, being a new race circuit venue with a fresh and un-tested 1.6 mile street course in the heart of Downtown San Jose, gives the entire Hankook USTCC field an even racing ground to capture a win on the inaugural race, in which only experience could pay off at the end. And after 3 rounds of racing, Dave Brown behind the wheel of the #96 CCGroup/Premier Choice/Spoon Sports/OPAK Racing Acura RSX Type-R leads the Driver's Championship going into San Jose. Dave's experience surely has a lot to do with this after two poles and placing in the top five three times to start his first full season in USTCC. Brown piloted his RSX-R to fourth Place in the season opener in California Speedway, then he endured a scorching 115 degree heat weather of Phoenix International Raceway with a dominating win from the pole and finished a solid 2nd Place at Buttonwillow Raceway Park to hold on to the points lead. Brown and his RSX-R will definitely be one to look out for on the track. He's not only a fan favorite, but Brown is also a local resident.
Not too far behind Brown, currently in second Place in the 2005 Championship is USTCC 2004 Co-Champion Jeff Lepper of Martinez, Ca. behind the wheel of the #88 AGPTurbo.com/Eagle Awards/Collision Craft Dodge SRT-4. Lepper drove the SRT-4 to win the season opener in California Speedway and gave the Dodge SRT-4 brand its first ever professional road-racing win. With the Co-"Defending Champion" title on his belt, one win so far in 2005 and two Top 10's placing Lepper in second place in the championship, it would be difficult to count out the young Lepper. And his drag racing experience may give him a slight edge at the standing start.
Currently sitting in third Place in the standings is the 2004 Apex-I USTCC Rookie of The Year and second place finisher in the driver's championship, Justin Elin of Port Orchard, Washington piloting the #19 T1-R/Motul/Position 1 Honda Civic. So far, Elin has not let off, continuing on his consistent and strong driving performance from 2004 onto 2005 season with two top 10 finishes, a sixth place finish in the season opener and a strong second place finish in Phoenix. He has had only one disappointing outing at Buttonwillow, where he qualified and started fourth, only to be bumped off track during a turn 1 melee. Just like the racer that Elin always is, he was able to shake off the incident and was already working his way back. But he couldn't avoid a damaging contact with a spinning Brett Erickson of Sunnyvale, Ca. behind the wheel of the #12 Bay Area Volkswagen Dealers GTI VR6, that resulted in an early retirement from the race for both drivers.
Brian Lock of Scotts Valley, Ca. in the #44 Subydude.com/DMS/Goto: Racing Subaru WRX is currently sitting in fourth place and just fresh of the top step of the podium after a dominating run at Buttonwillow where he started and qualified second, got a great launch off from the standing start and quickly broke away from pole winner Dave Brown, then went on to lead all laps flag-to-flag. Lock is also the current leader on the Apex-i Rookie of the Year standings with 2 podiums and only one bad outing. That bad outing was at Phoenix with a mechanical gremlin. With the power of his Subaru WRX, Lock is primed to surprise everyone on the streets of San Jose. If Lock continues his consistent aggressive driving and avoids anymore race car bugs, especially after claiming that his GOTO Racing Team finally figured out the new Hankook spec tires set up for his WRX, then Lock will definitely be the one to beat for the championship.
Rounding up the current Top 5 in the season standings is Pete Bovenberg, behind the wheel of his #94 MBO/McDonald's/PPG Racing Honda Civic. In 3 races, Bovenberg showed that patience, consistency and experience definitely results in positive production. Bovenberg has quietly amassed his points with three Top 10's and one Top 3, a ninth and eighth place finishes in the first two races without any incidents and then breaking on to the podium with a third place finish at Buttonwillow. But it is only mid-season and with Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose around the corner, no positions in the standings are for certain. It would take preparation, consistency and experience over total racing brute to win it all.
The Top 3 in the USTCC Season Standings may seem locked already, but there are definitely plenty of other stout racing efforts from capable drivers & teams in the entire Hankook USTCC racing field that are ready to overtake and grab the top spots. It is up to the current leaders to drive hard to hold on to their positions.
Dale Sievwright, currently in second place in the Apex-i Rookie of the Year standings has been very fast since Round 1 behind the wheel of his #3 MPACT Motorsports BMW 328is, but a blown motor at California Speedway cost him. Sievwright was back to speed in Round 2 and 3 with consecutive fourth Place finishes. Sievwright should be another of younger USTCC driver to look out for in San Jose.
Other drivers and teams that could be strong, include Jonathan Meris and Jeff Mishtawy. Meris in his #10 Motorsport Dynamics/Meris Motorsports Honda Civic is currently sixth in the standings whose experience in both road racing & drag racing could also pay off at San Jose. He's a very experienced USTCC veteran and was the 2000 Rookie of the Year as well as the second Place finisher in the standings of the inaugural season of USTCC Series. On the other hand, Jeff Mishtawy will lead the contingency of East Coast Hankook USTCC drivers into San Jose along with the silver rings of Audi on his #20 Motorkars Audi A4 race car. In 2004 with his first full USTCC season, Mishtawy practically ran away with the 2004 USTCC title, consistently driving in a dominating fashion on famous and historic tracks like Road America and such.
Ryan C. is a long time observer of USTCC since its inception. He is not a direct affiliate of the Hankook United States Touring Car Championship and his views should not be considered a direct representative of the NASA Pro Racing Sanctioned Hankook USTCC or of C & R Promotions.
For additional photos and contact information,
Public Relations Director, USTCC