When the lights went out for the standing start, Sandberg, in the No. 13 ANSA Motorsports KTM X-Bow GT4, got the jump he needed to keep the lead from pole heading into turn one, with Aschenbach who had started second, in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro, right behind him on the corner exit.
Meanwhile, Max Riddle, in the No. 07 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT4, charged from ninth to third through the opening corners, earning him the Optima Batteries Best Standing Start Award.
As the race developed, Sandberg and Aschenbach drew away from Riddle, who then came under attack from Nate Stacy, driving the No. 14 Roush Performance Road Racing Ford Boss 302, and Parker Chase, driving the No. 19 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta GT4, with Stacy passing Riddle for third on lap 2 in turn 12.
Riddle was then challenged by Dollahite, in the No. 46 SDR Motorsports Lotus Evora, who passed Chase for fifth, and continued his charge, getting around Riddle for fourth.
Up front, Aschenbach turned up the heat on Sandberg, trying to pass the X-Bow around the 20-turn COTA circuit, while Stacy at the same time caught the two leaders, making it a three-car fight for the lead. That didn't last long, as Dollahite tracked down the leaders, making it a four-car competition at the front of the field.
At the 15-minute mark of the 50-minute race, Sandberg continued to lead, but by just .216 seconds as Aschenbach, winner of the Round 1 race on Saturday, continued to challenge in hopes of a weekend sweep with Stacy and Dollahite in pursuit. Riddle continued in fifth ahead of Chase, who was locked in a battle with Dore Chaponick Jr., in the No. 12 ANSA Motorsports KTM X-Bow GT4. Chase then separated himself from Chaponick Jr. and challenged Riddle for the top five in hopes of chasing down the lead group.
At the 20-minute mark, Jack Roush Jr., in the No. 60 Roush Performance Road Racing Ford Boss 302, got around Chase for sixth, as Chaponick Jr. had dropped behind the battle in eighth place and then hit pit road to replace a cut tire. Halfway through the race, Sandberg continued to lead a close race over Aschenbach, but those two had broken away from Stacy and Dollahite, who were battling for third.
On lap 13, Roush Jr. passed Riddle down the back stretch for fifth, with Chase then attacking Riddle and following through as the two went side-by-side for the position through a number of corners with Riddle maintaining sixth at that point in the race.
Chase would eventually move past Riddle which set-up another showdown, but this time for fifth with Roush Jr, who would later be reported to have pulled off with a flat tire.
Up front, Sandberg continued in first while Aschenbach was just under a second behind with seven minutes to go. The race for third was where the action was, with Dollahite all over Stacy.
Aschenbach then closed the gap in his Camaro but Sandberg returned the favor and pushed a gap as the laps clicked off, taking the victory in GTS with Aschenbach finishing second. Dollahite passed Stacy through turn 1 for the final podium position, earning him the Cadillac ATS-V Move of the Race Award.
The VP Fuel Racing Hard Charger went to Mark Klenin, in the No. 62 Klenin Performance Racing Schomp/Premiere Copy/Mike Ward Maserati Maserati GranTurismo, who improved six positions throughout the race.
"The KTM X-Bow performed flawlessly today. The car was super consistent throughout the entire race," said Sandberg. "The ANSA Motorsports team worked outstanding in conjunction Reiter Engineering. The car felt so good through the entire run today. I felt some pressure from Lawson as the race went on and I needed to drive smoothly to keep our pace. To beat someone like Lawson, who really helped me out a few years back, this is a great feeling. It's been a challenge to try and get the Balance of Performance (BOP) up to the standard of the GTS which is the Camaro. They made a pretty significant change on our car from qualifying. They have done a lot with the car. The car performed great throughout the weekend."
"We had a good battle with Brett today. I'm really happy for him. He is a good friend," said Aschenbach. "I had a horrible start and then I tried to close and keep the pressure on him. I almost stalled the car so we'll need to work on the standing starts for St. Petersburg now. I thought I could drag race him to turn one and get the lead but it didn't work out. He drove a flawless race today. Our Chevrolet Camaro Z-28R was really fast and it was hooked up from yesterday. We made some changes from Saturday and the car was better. We didn't have the pace for the X-Bow today. A couple of times I thought about attacking and making a risky move. But I felt it was better to be a little more conservative and get the points since it is the first race of the season. I'm happy for the weekend and very excited to be back with Black Dog Speed Shop. Congrats to Brett."
"I had a great battle with Nate Stacy," said Dollahite. "He was playing some hard defense late in the race. I was able to make a couple of moves and he came right back. He was very clean. I finally got inside of him in turn one and was able to hold the position for third. I tried not to look back as much as possible. It was a great effort by our whole team this weekend. I was very excited to just be here to race at COTA. Then to make it on the podium is an honor and a thrill. The team had to develop the car with the Pirelli tire and they did a phenomenal job. We still have some development to go but we are very pleased with this finish."
Catch all the action from COTA on an expanded CBS Sports Network broadcast, scheduled for Thursday, March 17 at 9 p.m. eastern time. GTS teams next take to the track for Rounds 3 and 4 at the Streets of St. Petersburg, March 11-13, with live timing available on world-challenge.com and live video on motortrendondemand.com.
AUSTIN, Texas – Results from Sunday's March 6, 22-lap Pirelli World Challenge Championship GTS Round 2 race, part of the Nissan Grand Prix of Texas presented by VP Racing Fuels with finishing position, class, first name, last name, hometown, laps, and fastest laps.
1. GTS, Brett Sandberg, Allendale NJ, 2:17.500 2. GTS, Lawson Aschenbach, Palm Beach Gardens Fl, 2:17.622 3. GTS, Scott Dollahite, Austin TX / Austin TX, 2:17.606 4. GTS, Nate Stacy, Owasso OK, 2:17.875 5. GTS, Parker Chase, New Braunsfels TX, 2:18.499 6. GTS, Max Riddle, Vancouver Canada, 2:19.108 7. GTS, Kevin Marshall, Incline Village NV, 2:19.491 8. GTS, Mark Klenin, Lone Tree CO, 2:19.683 9. GTS, Tony Gaples, Libertyville IL, 2:20.146 10. GTS, Jeff Courtney, Milwaukee WI, 2:20.292 11. GTS, Nick Esayian, San Diego CA, 2:20.831 12. GTS, Jason Alexandridis, Ashland OR/Novato CA, 2:20.971 13. GTS, Ron Ballard, Phoenix AZ, 2:22.571 14. GTS, Dore Jr., Miami FL, 2:18.615 15. GTS, Jack Jr, Livonia MI, 2:18.715 16. GTS, Martin Barkey, Huntsville Canada, 17. GTS, Patrick Byrne, Spokane WA, 18. GTS, Bob Michaelian, Seal Beach CA/San Antonio TX,