Monterey, Calif. – 05.05.2015 – The #14 Doran Racing/GT Academy 370Z NISMO of Brad Jaeger and BJ Zacharias earned its first podium finish of 2015 this weekend at the third round of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (CTSCC) at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca in Monterey, but series veteran and race finisher B.J. Zacharias thinks the team had a good shot at a win at the scenic 2.238-mile road course on the Pacific coast.
“If the race had stayed under green flag that last 12 minutes to the end, I think we had something for the (race winning) Camaro Z28 at the finish,” said Zacharias. “The last caution gave the two V8 cars time to cool off their tires. It was anyone’s race among the top three cars. We all crossed the line within eight tenths of a second. My co-driver Brad Jaeger had one of his best stints ever, and the team made all the right calls, so I felt like we could win it.”
The Doran team tried an unconventional strategy by keeping qualifier and starting driver Jaeger in for the first 90-minutes of the 150-minute race. Once the driver change was made and the car was fueled, Zacharias pulled out of the pits in sixth with an hour to go and enough fuel to make it to the finish. Picking off cars in front of him, the Cincinnati native moved up to second place with 28 minutes remaining, drawing closer to the leading Camaro each lap. After the final caution period ended, there were only two laps remaining, and the third place Mustang on fresher tires was able to out-brake Zacharias for second as the three leaders battled flat out to the finish.
“It was a solid race for Doran and Nissan,” Zacharias said. “I’m proud of the team effort and proud of Brad for getting us to the front.”
The second Doran/GT Academy team car had a faster qualifying lap, courtesy of 2013 GT Academy North America Champ Nick McMillen. The #41 370Z NISMO started fifth on the grid, but was hit by another car on the opening lap of the race, destroying a rim and tire.
“I went through the first three corners side-by-side with the number 15 Mustang. We ran clean, but mid-corner of turn four, he pushed me wide. As we reached the exit curb he bumped me and we both went off track,” said the 21-year old Oregonian. “It damaged the front wheel, so we had to pit. The car stalled out with low voltage in the pits, so we lost a lot of laps. I wish I could have turned it over to (2012 GT Academy Champ) Steve Doherty in a good spot for his first race in the Doran Z.”
After taking a sixth at Daytona and a fifth at Sebring, the #41 Doran 370Z NISMO managed only 17th at Laguna, but gave new team member Doherty some valuable seat time in preparation for the next CTSCC race will be at Watkins Glen in upstate New York June 25 to 27. Jaeger and Zacharias finished second in the 2014 race there.
This week’s race from Laguna Seca will air on Fox Sports 1 on Sunday, May 17 at 9:00 a.m. Eastern/6:00 a.m. Pacific.
For more information and the latest news about IMSA Racing and the CTSCC, follow the series online at IMSA.com/.