From left: The top three in Touring Car were Gary Sheehan, who finished second. Larry Bani took the win in GT. Beau Borders took first place in Touring Car, with Mario Lento taking third.

The driving team of Ali Arsham and Gary Sheehan won the 2014 Nitto Tires United States Touring Car Championshipchampionship with a second-place finish at the final race of the season on November 16, 2014 at Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, California.

The team had a 35-point lead over the second-place BMW M3 and a 46-point lead over a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo and a Mazdaspeed 3 that were tied for third place. That meant that the team had to finish the race to score enough points to secure the championship.

The Wheels/ Powerbuilt Tools Hyundai was on provisional pole on Saturday, but was beaten by .02 seconds during Sunday’s qualifying session, which meant that they would start in second place. Things started to look less promising at the start of the race when the Genesis Coupe went to fourth place at the start of the race. But soon the Arsham/Sheehan team charged ahead and waited for the halfway point of the 45 minute race. That is the critical point that the Hyundai needed to reach to clinch the title.

“Once the championship was clinched, I started to push to score a win,” said driver Gary Sheehan. In the end, there was not enough time for the race win, but the team was excited with a second place finish in the race.

“The championship was extremely important for all of our partners who have helped us along this journey. In our first race with this car we struggled to finish in the top 10, but we have continuously made improvements along the way culminating in a championship today,” said team principal Ali Arsham.

During their championship season, the team scored three wins in the seven races of the season, but the key to their championship was perhaps that their worst finish was fifth place.

“We certainly did not have an easy season, but the key is how you deal with problems that inevitably come up,” commented Arsham.

A great example was the intermittent ignition issue that surfaced at round three in May. Rather than take a chance, the team worked until midnight on Saturday and all day Sunday to prepare their backup car for the race and ended up winning the race. The team is supported by crew members from Universal Technical Institute who learn real-world lessons at the races.

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