Schwartz Is A Sonoma Touring Car Star

Johan Schwartz raced to victory in TC America competition Saturday at Sonoma Raceway.
Johan Schwartz raced to victory in TC America competition Saturday at Sonoma Raceway.

SONOMA, CALIF. – Johan Schwartz won Saturday afternoon’s TC America contest in dominating fashion at Sonoma Raceway’s 12-turn, 2.52-mile road course.

Schwartz led flag to flag to score his fourth TC America win of the 2019 season, adding to his lead in the driver’s championship points standings.

The 21-lap race was held under sunny and hot 91-degree Fahrenheit conditions. From pole, Schwartz, in his No. 80 Rooster Hall Racing BMW M240iR Cup, took the green flag to start the 40-minute race and led the pack through turn 1. Second-on-the-grid Steve Streimer piloting the No. 81 Rooster Hall Racing BMW M240iR Cup pursued his teammate slotting into second. Shaun Webster slotted into third with Auto Technic Racing’s Robert Nimkoff.

The top four held their positions through lap seven with Schwartz building his lead to 1.5 seconds over Streimer, while Webster pursued three seconds behind Streimer. Nimkoff remained in fourth.

On lap 8, Nimkoff battled with Tom Capizzi. The battle dropped Nimkoff back two positions as Capizzi moved into fourth and Toby Grahovec, the 2016 TC Driver’s Champion and second in the driver’s championship standings coming into the weekend, moving into fifth.

In the latter stages of the race with Schwartz continuing to build his gap on Streimer and the two drivers continuing to pull away from the pack, a heated back-and-forth battle emerged between Webster and Grahovec, who had moved into fourth. The battle came to a head on the white flag lap as the two competitors came together through turn seven. Webster spun moving him back to seventh, while Grahovec carried on in third.

At the checkered, Schwartz crossed the line 2.6 seconds ahead of Streimer. Grahovec finished third, with Nimkoff fourth. Capizzi completed the top-five.

Mason Filippi took the TCR field to the green flag and would lead for most of the race until championship leader Michael Hurczyn would make a daring pass on the outside of turn one over the Filippi-driven Hyundai for the lead with less than 10 minutes to go.

With eight minutes remaining Nate Vincent and Filippi would then make contact at the final hairpin while fighting for second position, allowing the stalking Victor Gonzalez to slip into second place.  James Walker would also pounce to claim third in his #34 Risi Competizione Alfa Romeo.  Vincent would salvage fourth position with Filippi coming home fifth.

With 47 seconds remaining, Gonzalez would chase down Hurczyn and make a diving pass for the lead into the final hairpin and go on to take the TCR win.

In TCA, MINI JCW Team’s Mark Pombo would jump from fourth to first in his #59 Mini Cooper at the start of the race and hold the lead until 21 minutes remained when pole-sitter Tyler Maxson would nab the lead back and go on to score his first win of 2019. Chris Haldeman would finish on the final podium step ahead of Nate Norenberg and Jose DaSilva’s.