PORTLAND, Ore. – In a repeat performance of Saturday’s contest, Johan Schwartz and Toby Grahovec, the two championship protagonists in the TC class, battled for the top step of the podium.
And, yet again, the driver of the No. 80 Rooster Hall Racing BMW M240iR Cup prevailed to win Sunday’s TC America series contest at Portland Int’l Raceway.
Schwartz won the race held as part of the 59th Annual Rose Cup Races presented by Fastlife.TV, Robert Nimkoff finished second, and Chandler Hull crossed the line in third.
At the green, pole sitter Grahovec, in the #26 Classic BMW BMW M240iR Cup took the lead over second-on-the-grid Schwartz in his #80 machine. Third-on-the-grid Paul Terry in the #33 Rearden Racing Nissan 370z slotted into third.
What followed for the next 24 laps was a clinical display of driving prowess between the former series champions – Grahovec the 2016 TC champion, and Schwartz the 2015 TCB champion and current TC points leader. While the leaders up front held their positions deftly hitting their marks and not making any mistakes, battles were waging behind them.
Nimkoff, in the #20 Auto Technic Racing BMW M240iR Cup would pass Terry through turn 1 on lap 13 and lead a four-car pack including the #33 machine, Chandler Hull, in the #94 Copart / BimmerWorld Racing BMW M240iR Cup and teammate Cameron Evans #82 Copart / BimmerWorld Racing BMW M240iR Cup.
Joining the pack was Tom Capizzi, who had moved up four positions into 7th in his Auto Technic Racing #52 BMW M240iR Cup. On lap 22, Evans, now in front of his teammate, would pass Terry through turn 1 and into fourth.
With under four minutes remaining in the race, Schwartz began to more aggressively look for a way around Grahovec on lap 24, but like on Saturday when Schwartz defended skillfully in the lead, it was Grahovec’s turn to defend the lead and hold off Schwartz. But then on lap 25 Schwartz aggressively move to the inside through turn 7 to take the lead.
On lap 27, Grahovec looked to return the favour through turn 7 – the #80 and #26 machines would come together door-to-door with both cars sliding off the circuit. Schwartz gathered up his machine first and returned to the track in the lead while Grahovec followed but not before the pack that Nimkoff led pushed through.
At the checkered, Schwartz scored his fifth win of the season to grow his points lead over Grahovec. Nimkoff, and Hull completed the podium with Terry and Capizzi rounding out the top 5. Grahovec would finish 10th.
Schwartz leaves Portland with 150 points to Grahovec’s 109.
After the race Schwartz commented on the battle he had with Grahovec.
“I hate that it happened like that. I actually made a pass on him (Grahovec) one time earlier and had contact with him and pushed him wide but let him go by again. I didn’t want to race him like that. It’s unfortunate, but we had such a great battle. I wanted us to finish 1-2, even if he had won. We put on a great show though.”