Veteran racer Vesko Kozarov scored his second Touring Car victory of the weekend Sunday at Portland International Raceway, but it wasn’t as easy as it might have looked in the No. 3 Rearden Racing Nissan 370Z TC Spec car in the 58th annual Rose Cup Races featuring the Pirelli World Challenge Presented by Honda Racing/HPD.
Kozarov jumped out to a big lead early in Sunday’s 40-minute Round 8 event for the Touring Cars but slid off the track in the middle portion of the race. He re-entered the 1.97-mile, 12-turn course in turn 5 and chased down the leaders from a 12-second deficit to cross the finish line with a 0.775-second win.
While Vesko was fighting his way back towards the front of the field, drivers Johan Schwartz and Karl Wittmer put on a wild exchange with their respective BMW M235iRs. Racing a few feet apart, Schwartz, in the No. 80 Rooster Hall Racing/West Virginia University BMW M235iR, and Wittmer, in the No. 91 Classic BMW BMW M235iR, delighted the racing fans with a brutal battle in hopes of gaining the checkered flag.
But it was Kozarov coming back into contention with three laps to go in the 29-lap contest and passing both Schwartz and Wittmer for his second appearance of the weekend on the top of the podium. The win also gave Kozarov the TC point lead over Wittmer.
“The series made a change with the car’s regulations overnight and I thought we might have trouble with locking up the brakes, especially in the hotter (98 degrees) conditions,” said Kozarov. “The car was a bullet this weekend and I drove to the max, especially coming back to take the lead. If you have a chance to run up front, you have to drive the car has hard as possible. The Rearden guys really gave me a great car. My hat’s off to them.”
Schwartz looked to be on his way to his third 2018 TC win before settling for second. He placed third in Saturday’s Round 7 action as well.
“We had a very good car considering it was almost 100 degrees here today,” said Schwartz. “I’m not sure we had anything for Vesko and the Nissan, but Karl and I really battled when we were 1-2 towards the end of the race. I enjoy racing with Karl. He is a phenomenal driver and I can trust everything he does out there. I didn’t know what Vesko had left with his car. So, runner-up is okay for us today.”
Wittmer, the TC point leader entering the Portland weekend, suffered through a tough Round 7 on Saturday when his BMW was hit from behind in the first corner in the first lap. But he returned to give Schwartz all he could handle Sunday.
“We knew the Nissan was strong here and we just wanted to keep our pace,” said Wittmer. “Honestly, it came down to management with the tires and the cars. And I wanted to have my Classic BMW ready for the finish. The Classic BMW guys just give me a solid and fast car each race. Today was the same again. We’ll take another podium finish and get ready for Utah.”
Placing fourth and fifth Sunday in the TC Round 8 was Kozarov’s Rearden Racing teammate Paul Terry in the No. 33 Rearden Racing Nissan 370Z TC Spec and Matt Travis in the No. 2 Classic BMW BMW M235iR.
Rounds 9 and 10 for the Touring Car division now travel to the Utah Motorsports Campus on August 10-12 for the PWC Grand Prix of Utah.
1,1, ,Vesko KOZAROV,Salt Lake City, UT,USA,Nissan 370z TC Spec,29,Running,40:26.803,
2,2, ,Johan SCHWARTZ,Huntersville, NC,DEN,BMW M235iR Cup,29,Running,40:27.578,0.775
3,3, ,Karl WITTMER,Montreal, QC,CAN,BMW M235iR Cup,29,Running,40:27.804,1.001
4,4, ,Paul TERRY,Filmore, UT,USA,Nissan 370z TC Spec,29,Running,40:48.891,22.088
5,5, ,Matt TRAVIS,The Woodlands, TX,USA,BMW M235iR Cup,29,Running,40:50.100,23.297
6,6, ,Jayson CLUNIE,Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, CA,CAN,BMW M235iR Cup,29,Running,40:51.579,24.776
7,7, ,Steve STREIMER,Portland, OR,USA,Nissan 370z TC Spec,29,Running,40:53.552,26.749
8,8, ,Sean QUINLAN,Palo Alto, CA,USA,BMW M235iR Cup,29,Running,40:54.310,27.507
9,9, ,Jacob RUUD,Franksville, WI,USA,BMW M235iR Cup,29,Running,40:57.557,30.754
10,10, ,Henry SCHMITT,San Francisco, CA,USA,BMW M235iR Cup,29,Running,41:18.945,52.142
11,11, ,Greg NITZKOWSKI,La Canada, CA,USA,BMW M235iR Cup,28,Running,40:57.007,1 LAP