ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – This time, Eric Curran was watching from the pits as late drama unfolded Saturday at Road America.
Curran and teammate Lawson Aschenbach won the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series Grand Sport event when race leader Pierre Kleinubing, with about a half-second lead coming off the last turn, slowed and Aschenbach scooted past to win the race, the first of the season.
About one-third of a mile short of the victory, Kleinubing came off the last corner struggling to get up to speed.
“Something happened in the drive train,” he said. “It had nothing.”
Kleinubing and his teammate Ray Mason still managed a third-place finish. Kleinubing said it was nice to get the finish for the team, despite the sour taste of being so close to the race victory.
Robin Liddell rallied the Stevenson Motorsports entry and teammate Andrew Davis from 16th place after a pit-road penalty to a runner-up finish.
“It probably tells you how hungry I was and I’m still upset about it,” Liddell said.
Terry Borcheller and Mike LaMarra won the series’ Street Tuner event.
“Really proud of everybody,” Aschenbach said. “Everybody in this program has worked so hard. We’ve had a rough year; everybody knows it. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good and we’ll take it today.”
For Curran, he’s seen this before, the late-race drama at Road America working in his favor.
In 2011, while racing with the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series GT class, Curran made two last-lap passes because of cars running out of fuel on the last lap to pick up the victory. In both instances, it was a one-lap dash to the finish.
“It’s funny to be back here a couple years later with the same kind of scenario,” Curran said.
“I’ve had good luck here, he added with a smile.
In 2011, Curran was in third place behind then-race leaders Jordan Taylor and Spence Pumpelly entering the last-lap sprint around the 4.048-mile 14-turn road course.
With most of the cars stretching every bit of fuel they had, Taylor’s car slowed out of turn five and ran out of gas. Then with just more than a mile to go, Pumpelly was slow coming out of turn 12 and ran out of gas.
Curran coasted to the finish line, almost literally.