James Clay, a TC America series veteran with over 60 starts, claimed his second career TC series win on Saturday at Road America. The action-packed, 40-minute race saw 2016 TC Champion Toby Grahovec finish second, and Johan Schwartz — the championship points leader entering the weekend — unofficially clinch the 2019 TC title.
Pole sitter Jeff Ricca (No. 78 GenRacer Hyundai Genesis) headed the field to the green flag and took the early lead over second-qualifier Joseph Federl (No. 23 TechSport Racing Nissan 370z). Looking to keep his championship hopes alive, Grahovec, driving the No. 26 Classic BMW BMW M240iR Cup, slotted into second ahead of Schwartz piloting the Rooster Hall Racing No. 80 BMW M240iR Cup.
Clay (No. 63 Copart/BimmerWorld Racing BMW M240iR), who had qualified fifth, slotted in behind Schwartz.
Before the first lap could be completed, though, a full-course yellow was issued as Rearden Racing’s Paul Terry (No. 33 Nissan 370z) made contact with Cameron Evans (No. 82 Copart/BimmerWorld Racing BMW M240iR Cup) in Turn 5. Neither driver was injured, but their damaged cars had to be removed.
After 12-minute cleanup, Ricca led the field to the restart with Federl, Grahovec, Schwartz and Clay right behind, Clay quickly moving past Schwartz and up into fourth.
On lap 4, Grahovec overtook Federl through Turn 3 and took over second; Clay took third from Federl on the same lap. By lap 5 Grahovec closed on Ricca and the two scrapped for the lead and as they crossed the line to begin lap 6. Grahovec drag raced Ricca to Turn 1, and executed a pass for the lead. By the end of the lap, Clay, too, had passed Ricca, slotting into second and setting his sights on the lead.
As Grahovec and Clay crossed the line to start lap 7, Clay used the draft to swing up alongside, passing into the lead through turn 1. On Lap 8, though, Race Control issued a full-course caution for another disabled car on track.
The race restarted with under 10 minutes left, and Grahovec got a tremendous launch, overtaking Clay through Turn 1 to regain the lead. Schwartz also gained a position, moving past Ricca into third.
The battle up front continued through lap 11 as Grahovec defended against Clay with Schwartz looking for any mistake to move through. On the next lap Clay used the draft on the front straight to swing around Grahovec for the lead in Turn 1. Clay then successfully held off challenges from Grahovec and crossed the line just .232s to the good.
With his third-place finish, Schwartz provisionally clinches the 2019 Touring Car title.
Results are provisional until posted final. TC teams and drivers now look ahead to Sunday’s Round 12 scheduled for green flag start of 9 a.m. CDT. Watch the race live on TCAmerica.us.
CBS Sports Network coverage for TC America races at Road America airs October 2 at 7 pm EST. Check your local listings for additional broadcast time and channel information.