Keating remains unbeaten this season after sweeping both events during the weekend at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., just as he did in the season-opener at Road Atlanta. Keating’s margin of victory on the 14-turn, 4.048-mile circuit was 7.5 seconds over former IndyCar driver Richie Hearn. Keating’s teammate Jeff Courtney was third.
While Keating was making his drive to victory look easy, there was intense competition from fourth through eighth. Ralph Gilles, third in Saturday’s race, just missed a podium finish. He ended up fourth followed by Jim Booth in fifth.
The inverted field from the previous day’s finish proved to be only a temporary obstacle for Keating. He was up to second after two laps and took the lead on the third. He led the final 11 laps.
“I don’t like that last race stuff,” said Keating referring to clinching the 2011 championship. “This gives me a pretty good advantage, but we still have a lot of racing left. David (Pintaric) was the closest to me in points, but after he crashed yesterday, that opened things up a little.
“I’ve only been driving six years and I’ve changed a lot over those six years. My first season, I didn’t get a podium finish. It’s a matter of learning the car, getting the setup right and being a smart driver. When I get somebody in front of me, I get more focused, more competitive. I’m one of the most competitive guys I know. Everybody has to have a vice and this is mine. I’m going to do it well.”
Contact as the field took the green flag from a standing start proved costly for Hearn. His left front fender was damaged. “The damage just killed my aero and that killed my tires. I wasn’t going to catch Ben and didn’t see anybody close behind, so I made sure I made it to the end.”
Gilles finished third in Saturday’s race and was challenging Courtney for a podium finish in the closing laps Sunday. “That was easily the busiest race of my life,” said Gilles. “It’s the first time I’ve ever run a race with the field inverted. Everybody was very fast, very technical. In my case, we were probably a little low on tire pressure at the start. It finally came in and I started putting down some great laps. I was able to close in on Courtney, but couldn’t make the pass. It was smart racing as everyone gave each other room. This SRT Viper has depth. No matter how hard you drive it, it’s there for you.”
Stunt coordinator/actor Darrin Prescott, the second celebrity driver along with Hearn, won’t soon forget his weekend at Road America. “This is one of the best things I’ve ever done in my entire life,” said Prescott. “It’s so much fun. These guys are so fast, so fast. The course is so challenging and everything is happening three times as fast as what I’m used to. I was going at my limit and these guys are so far ahead of me. The car is so predictable. It’s all car; the only thing holding it back was me.”
Source SRT Motorsports