NASA Texas ST2 driver Paul Costas has attended two NASA Championships. His first year was last year, when he won TT3. This year he can add an ST2 Championship trophy to his mantle.
Costas started from third place behind Todd Clarke, Michael McAleenan and Chad Gilsinger, both of whom were quick in qualifying. Costas got around all of them, held his position through the caution period and finished first to take the ST2 Championship.
“The two cars that were in front of us that we were kind of concerned about, obviously the NSX and the Mustang,” Costas said. “Both are heavier cars on narrower tires, so our plan was to push pretty good the first half and then literally as soon as we hit the second half, my crew is going to radio me and say go, and then I would turn it loose and push, push, push and either pound them into a mistake or have them burn their tires off or hopefully, if I’m in front, get away from them. It came together. Sometimes the sun shines on you.”
Team 5.2 Motorsports driver Anthony Magnagnoli started from dead last in the 12-car field and clawed his way forward, overtook McAleenan and hung on to take second in a brand-new Ford Mustang GT350TR at Mid-Ohio, a course he considers his home track.
“We’ve been developing this car all year with 5.2 Motorsports and this is showing the path of the work we’ve been doing,” Magagnoli said. “Every time we go out, we get faster and faster, and I think we just showed how much we’ve really progressed.”
McAleenan’s strategy related to tire management. His car is lighter than Gilsinger’s or Magagnoli’s, so he was hoping for their tires to go away, but the lengthy caution period foiled his plans.
“I knew the guys in front of me could turn faster laps at the beginning of the race, but our strength is over the long haul in the race, so we expected to be there at the end,” said McAleenan, who has four championships to his name. “The double-yellow for 15 to 20 minutes at the beginning of the race, allowed them to preserve their tires really well and it didn’t come back to us at the end, but still, everything went OK. The car felt good, happy in third, would of preferred higher, but you don’t always win.”