Austin, Texas (2 March 2013) – The No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro of Matt Bell and John Edwards finished 10th in GRAND-AM’s inaugural race at Circuit of the Americas after an eventful race weekend in Texas.
After spending nearly 20 hours suffering from illness, Edwards qualified the No. 9 Camaro fourth on Friday, and was in much better physical condition on Saturday as the 2.5-hour race opened. Edwards fought in the top three for most of the opening segments of the race before turning the car over to Bell to take to the finish. Bell was more than holding up his end of the deal, fighting for a podium position despite having to play a conservative hand with the fuel strategy.
Unfortunately, that forward progress was thwarted when an overly ambitious and often-penalized competitor made a move that sent Bell spinning off track. The Californian was able to recover to make it to the finish, but the damage was done as he came home 10th at the checkered flag.
“We were conserving fuel the whole race, the strategy was great and the car was the most race-able Camaro that these guys have ever prepared,” said Bell. “So I was really happy. Unfortunately, right when the team said I was ok to start pushing and use all the fuel that I needed...I was hit and then pointing the wrong direction! It was unfortunate-he just packed me right as I was about to go back to gas. The car was great--when I wanted to push, it did everything I asked of it. I was racing with Bill (Auberlin, eventual race winner), and I was right there with him. So it is tough knowing that we could have put the heat on the leaders, but just didn’t get the chance to do that.”
“It’s just an unfortunate result,” added Team Manager Mike Johnson. “We had got ourselves into third with a few laps to go but we knew we were real tight on fuel. I think that was that driver’s fifth or sixth avoidable contact in the last year so I don’t know why the series still lets him drive. But we ran out of fuel on the last lap anyway so it was unfortunate. We were that close – if we had finished third or fourth we would have walked away with the points lead but it’s still another top-10 and we had a fast car all weekend so that was good. It’s a long season in this series and some of the guys that finished well at Daytona didn’t finish this one so off we go to the next one.”
The team will be back in action at Barber Motorsports Park April 3-6 for Round 3 of the 2013 Championship.