THE FRONTSTRETCH NEWSLETTER
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The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
January 28th, 2013
Volume VII, Edition VIII
LEND YOUR SUPPORT TO VICTIMS IN THE WAKE OF THE SANDY HOOK TRAGEDY
After the senseless mass shooting last month, Frontstretch sends its love and support to all of Newtown, CT as they grieve over the tragic December 14th massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. That horror, the second-deadliest school incident in U.S. history claimed the lives of 26 innocent civilians -- including 20 first-grade children. No matter what you think we should do from here, there's one fact we can all agree on: these victims' families need us to come together and help. There's plenty of ways you can do it, and here at Frontstretch we've found a great charity to recommend: a fund set up by indie rock band OneRepublic. Click here and find out how, with a few simple clicks of the mouse you can send money to help rebuild the lives of so many that were unfairly torn apart. And together, let's make a commitment this holiday season to find a way to stop the violence -- whatever your solution, don't hesitate to speak up and make your voice heard.
by Phil Allaway
Despite the Ford-powered success during the Roar test a few weeks ago, it was Chip Ganassi's two-car squad that dominated the run up to the 51st Rolex 24 at Daytona. Scott Pruett claimed the overall pole on Thursday, and made it look kind of easy. Then, a somewhat controversial rule change restricted the Chevrolet Corvette DPs in response to alleged sandbagging.
Such actions may have made a Ganassi victory a foregone conclusion. Not exactly.
When the race began, Pruett basically ran away and hid, pulling away from the best of the Corvette DPs at a rate of one second per lap for the entire first fuel run. Such a pace was quite demoralizing to the Corvette contingent. The only car early on that could keep up with the No. 01 was the No. 02, also a BMW Riley DPG3 from Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Outside of pit stop sequences, the two Ganassi BMW Riley's swapped the lead multiple times for the first 14 hours of the race.
Grand Touring saw an all-out battle between the Porsches from Magnus Racing, NGT Motorsport and Alex Job Racing, the three factory-supported Audis (one each from Alex Job, Rum Bum Racing and APR Motorsport) and Ferraris from Scuderia Corsa and AIM Autosport. The pole-sitting car from Konrad Motorsport/Orbit, albeit very quick in the hands of class pole winner Nick Tandy, crashed in the opening laps and were not a factor.
Around the 15-hour mark, contenders started to drop off. Ganassi's No. 02, driven at the time by Jamie McMurray, hit the wall exiting the pits and had to go behind the wall for repairs. They returned six laps down, but still on pace before a rear end failure put them out. Other teams in contention for class wins, like the No. 30 NGT Motorsport Porsche, dropped out due to suspension issues.
A debris caution with 62 minutes to go resulted in the race playing towards fuel strategy. The No. 01 was the fastest car on track, but couldn't make it to the end. Juan Pablo Montoya chose to gun it and build enough of a gap to get a splash of fuel and still win. The stop came with eight minutes to go, costing the No. 01 the lead briefly. However, the Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette had to stop a couple of laps later, allowing Montoya to retake the lead and hold on to win the Rolex 24 at Daytona going away.
After the race, car owner Chip Ganassi was overjoyed with what he felt was a team effort.
"Well, I'll tell you guys...we knew we had good cars [as far back as the test]," Ganassi said. "My hats off to our guys in Indianapolis that put this car together. They worked very, very hard on the mechanical grip of the cars, which [allowed us to run less rear wing]."
The No. 01 team's margin of victory was just shy of 22 seconds over the Wayne Taylor Racing No. 10 Chevrolet Corvette DP. The No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley was third. Despite the fact that the race saw a record number of lead changes (74), the two Ganassi-owned cars combined to lead well over three-quarters of the race.
In GT, much like DP, the race came down to fuel mileage. Leaders Rene Rast (No. 52 APR Motorsport Audi R8) and Mark Wilkins (No. 69 Ferrari) stopped with 40 minutes left for their last stop. However, a number of teams stayed out in order to try to make the distance. The best of those teams was the No. 24 Alex Job Racing Audi, driven by Filipe Albuquerque. The team thought that they could make it all the way, but ended up having to do a splash-and-go with five minutes remaining. Luckily, the team had a big enough gap that they were able to stop, get their fuel, and keep the lead.
From there, they had to hold off the hard-charging Rast to claim Audi's first-ever win in the Rolex Series. Rast was just 1.5 seconds back in second, followed by Wilkins in third.
Finally, the Rolex 24 marked the debut of the new GX class. The class got most of its publicity from the Skyactiv-D, diesel-powered Mazda6's, but it was the Porsche Cayman that was the car to have. While the Mazdas had engine problems, the Napleton Racing Porsche that had led the class since the Roar test ran a near flawless race to claim the inaugural class victory by ten laps over a similar Cayman from Bullet Racing.
Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Race Recap: Roush Performance Repeats as Winners
by Phil Allaway
Last year, Roush Performance drivers Jack Roush, Jr. and Billy Johnson shook off years of frustration at Daytona by breaking through and claiming the BMW Performance 200 victory. This year, both of Roush Performance's Ford Mustang BOSS 302Rs were very fast, qualifying second and third in class (the No. 51 of Joey Atterbury and Shelby Blackstock was later DQ'd for a ballast violation and started in the back).
Everything was in place to allow Roush and Johnson to repeat the successes from 2012's season opening race for the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (CTSCC). However, it wouldn't be easy.
At the start of the race, pole sitter Jade Buford in Multimatic Motorsports' No. 55 Aston Martin got the jump on Roush. Ultimately, Roush's No. 61 was overrun by two of Fall-Line Motorsports' BMW M3's and the Rum Bum Racing No. 13 Porsche driven by Nick Longhi. The first segment of the race was marked by a frenetic battle for position between the aforementioned five cars, plus Mark Boden in a third Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3. Eventually, Boden went off at Turn 5 from sixth and hit the tire barriers, bringing out a full course yellow. Boden would return to the race after repairs, but was out of any contention.
During cautions, lapped drivers who choose not to pit when the leaders do can take a wave-around in order to make up a lap prior to their own pit stops. While in the process of catching up to the rear of the field, David Thilenius in the No. 74 Compass360 Racing Street Tuner-class Honda Civic Si spun and went into the Armco hard in the Infield. The Civic hit on the passenger side, dug in and nearly rolled over multiple times before coming to rest. Safety crews had to cut Thilenius out of the Civic before he could be put on a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance. He was transported to nearby Halifax Health Medical Center immediately with no stop at the Infield Care Center in-between. X-Ray scans showed that Thilenius suffered six broken ribs on his left side. At last update, Thilenius was still resting at the hospital in Daytona Beach, but plans to check out this morning and fly back to his home in California. His status for the next race at the Circuit of the Americas is unclear.
After pit stops, Longhi claimed the class lead before heck broke loose on the restart. Longhi was hit from behind and spun on the restart. Meanwhile, Al Carter hit the back of Buford's Aston Martin and sustained steering damage, which cost him three laps in the pits. Shortly afterwards, Roush ran over debris and cut his left front tire, forcing him to make an unscheduled stop that allowed the team to put Johnson in the car.
A long green-flag run eventually put Johnson back amongst the frontrunners and he eventually took the lead from David Empringham in the No. 15 Multimatic Motorsports Aston Martin. From there, Johnson ran away and hid, eventually making his final stop with 55 minutes to go and keeping the lead.
The No. 32 i-Moto Mazdaspeed 3 driven by Taylor Hacquard hit the tires on the backstretch with 25 minutes to go, setting up one last sprint to the finish. However, while the competition fought amongst themselves, Johnson was able to open up a gap and held on to win the BMW Performance 200.
Johnson was very happy to win such a wild event.
"What a crazy race," Johnson said. "It was exciting all the way through. There was probably more drafting and passing back and forth than I've ever seen here. I was trying pretty darn hard the last few laps [since the] Astons and Porsches were pretty quick."
Behind Johnson and Roush was the Rum Bum No. 13 of Longhi and Matt Plumb, 1.8 seconds back. Empringham and John Farano were third.
In ST, the RACE Epic/Murillo Racing No. 56 BMW 328i driven by Jesse Combs and Jeff Mosing was the class of the field for much of the race, along with the No. 23 BMW 128i driven primarily by Terry Borcheller. However, the Skullcandy Team Nissan No. 33 Altima Coupe driven by Vesko Kozarov claimed the lead as a result of pit strategy. Earlier, team owner Lara Tallman, who qualified the car 19th in class, stopped prior to the 30-minute mark so Kozarov could replace her in the car. Such a move meant that Tallman wouldn't earn drivers' points. Kozarov then set a blistering pace for much of the remaining two-plus hours. Despite being marginal on fuel due to their early first stop, Kozarov pushed hard and outran his competition in order to win the ST class. It is the first-ever victory for Kozarov, Tallman, the Altima Coupe and Skullcandy Team Nissan in the CTSCC.
In ST, race winner Kozarov gave it all he had.
"We were marginal on fuel at best, so we had [to] save a little bit. We used the draft to achieve that," he said. "The key for me was to get the pull from the GS cars and use it on the restart. And that's how it worked out."
The No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i of Greg Liefooghe and Tyler Cooke finished second in class, just ahead of the No. 75 Compass360 Racing Honda Civic Si of Ryan Eversley and Kyle Gimple.
SPEED will air tape-delayed coverage of the BMW Performance 200 on Saturday at 4:00 pm EST. The next race for the CTSCC will be on March 2nd at the Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas. It is the first time that the series will have traveled to the 3.4-mile road course.
- During the Rolex 24 at Daytona, there was an unusual incident in the garage area. The No. 19 Muehlner Motorsports America Porsche 911 GT3 Cup was in the garage for repairs. A large group assembled to watch the thrash, as is the norm during the race. The crowd dispersed after the car left the stall. The crew then jumped on a golf cart and drove at a high rate of speed to get back to their pit stall. One fan was unable to avoid the nearly out-of-control and overloaded golf cart and was hit halfway between the Muehlner garage and the entrance back onto pit road. The fan was knocked down, but appeared OK. The bag he was carrying was run over by the cart and dragged for a couple of hundred feet. Despite nearly tipping over from the contact, the crew did not stop to check on the stricken fan.
Have news for Phil and the Frontstretch? Don't hesitate to let us know; email us at email@example.com with a promising lead or tip.
We would like to congratulate Tracy Turner, our FanVision grand prize winner! Tracy, who won our essay contest last season, was picked at random from all of our race weekend FanVision contest winners in 2012! Tracy won her very own FanVision device and race weekend subscription! Congratulations Tracy and enjoy your new FanVision!
DRIVER REVIEWS -- A FULL SCHEDULE IS UP! FIND THE ONES YOU MISSED AND GIVE US YOUR TAKE ON YOUR DRIVER'S FAVORITE SEASON.
Pace Laps: Media Tour Takeaways And NASCAR Sponsors, Good And Bad
by the Frontstretch Staff
From Last Week:
From The Drawing Board To Daytona: What Makes A Gen-6 Car A Gen-6 Car
by Mike Neff
Q: In 1983, Darrell Waltrip ran sponsorship from Pepsi on his No. 11 Chevrolet advertising the Pepsi Challenge, the well-known double-blind taste test between Pepsi and Coca-Cola. However, Waltrip premiered his new sponsorship in the 24 Hours of Daytona, which Pepsi was the primary sponsor of at the time (it was officially known as the 24-Hour Pepsi Challenge). What car was Waltrip driving?
Check back next Monday for the answer, here in the Frontstretch Newsletter!
Last Monday's Answer:
Q. In 1986, Roush Racing came within an hour of claiming class victories at both Daytona and Sebring in the GTO class. Two of those drivers were in the top Roush Mustang in both races. Scott Pruett was one of those drivers. Who was the other?
A. The other driver just so happened to be Bruce Jenner. This was after Jenner's career as an Olympic-caliber athlete ended, but before he would have gotten with Kris Jenner. Granted, this driving career was in addition to an acting career and work on race broadcasts for NBC. 1986 was Jenner's best year in racing, finishing second in IMSA GTO class points to Pruett.
Frontstretch Trivia Guarantee: If we mess up, you get the shirt off our backs! If we've provided an incorrect answer to the Frontstretch Trivia question, be the first to email the corrected trivia answer to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll send you a Frontstretch T-Shirt ... FREE!
Coming this week at Frontstretch:
Mirror Driving by the Frontstretch Staff
Every Wednesday throughout the offseason your favorite experts will convene to discuss some major NASCAR issues of 2012 -- and what the series faces heading into 2013.
Throwback Thursdays by the Frontstretch Staff
New Year, old favorites. During the offseason, take a look at some of our columnists' best stories from 2012 -- and earlier in their careers -- as they share what features are near and dear to their heart. This week, Danny Peters steps up to take the stage. It's a guaranteed set of great reads that'll whet your appetite for racing to return in February.
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