Laguna Seca: Primetime Race Group race report

ANOTHER NOTCH ON THE PRIMETIME BELT October 20th, 2008 Monterey Sports Car Championship, Monterey California- After a week recovery from the Petit Le Mans, the diversified but extremely focused privateer team from Florida once again packed...

ANOTHER NOTCH ON THE PRIMETIME BELT

October 20th, 2008 Monterey Sports Car Championship, Monterey California- After a week recovery from the Petit Le Mans, the diversified but extremely focused privateer team from Florida once again packed their two rigs with all four race cars and headed west for another long week of racing.

With only a few days to work out their race prep on the four Primetime race cars taking the track at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the final event of the year, a dedicated team of 15 would give it one last shot to shine in 2008. Team owner, Joel Feinberg would face three races in two days as he would be piloting not only the big GT2, American Muscle Viper with co-driver Chris Hall, but also a pint sized Lites 1 car in the IMSA Lites series where he was hoping to advance to the series champion for 2008.

After an unfortunate off track excursion in the 10th round of the support series at Road Atlanta, Feinberg would receive only 1 point towards the championship after a tight season long battle with Jonathan Goring. With only two races remaining, it was unlikely that Feinberg would advance his position, but going into the weekend he had the speed to put his competition to the test. After qualifying, four drivers would share the front of the grid with only nine tenths of a second between them. Feinberg in the #7 Elan DP-02 would start the 30 minute sprint in the 4th position behind 3 very competent opponents.

On the Saturday morning prior to the 4 hour ALMS race, Feinberg would waste no time working his way to the front making moves on P3 and P2 within the first half of the first lap. As the field came around the front straight Feinberg was in P2, chasing down the points leader, Jonathan Goring. Feinberg would maintain that position throughout the race until the final lap where he had gotten tangled in lap traffic behind a slower car intentionally blocking for his teammate in P3. As a result the #7 car had fallen back, and would get hacked again by the same car as they crossed the finished line. The race officials had ultimately penalized Feinberg for unjustifiable contact and a 30 second penalty would find Feinberg letting go of his 3rd place finish, and settling for a 5th.

Later that afternoon the team would be ready to close out their ALMS season on a positive note and once again, Feinberg would suit up for battle hoping to move up the grid from their 12th position at the start. By lap 9 Feinberg had moved into 7th as he sliced and diced through the pack of Ferraris and Porsches. After another 15 laps, the Viper was scratching the top 5 from 6th place. After a 6 lap caution the green flag was shown and the field charged the front straight into turns 1 and 2. As Feinberg approached turn 2 side by side with the competition, a late brake would find the Viper out of control and ultimately buried in the gravel trap.

By the time the #11 car was back on track, it had lost 4 laps to the field and was back where it started in 12th. From there the track would continue to see multiple cautions and severe changes in track conditions due to the gravel spread across the 2.23 mile track. IMSA officials made their best efforts to keep sweeping the surface but couldn't keep up with the number of cars finding their way into trouble. At the two hour mark, Feinberg turned it over to teammate Chris Hall who got right up to speed with the flow of the race.

Another hour had gone by with Hall trading positions throughout his stint but as the 4 hour race into the dark continued, more yellow flags would be waived than green ones. With only 45 minutes remaining, the Primetime team would take one more pit stop for fuel and a driver change. Once Feinberg was back in the car, he would run another 25 minutes before the Vipers clutch started to fail. After a group of prototypes making a pass into the corkscrew put a wheel off and left a trail of gravel down the middle of the notoriously difficult three corner section, Feinberg had lost control again and found himself stuck in the gravel awaiting track officials for a tow. The Viper would only turn 2 more laps before a driveline failure ended its race 20 minutes short.

"This isn't the way we had hoped to finish the season", said Team Owner Joel Feinberg. "We made a solid effort this week with the Viper, the lap times and race results don't reflect it, but with all things considered, I think we finished on a positive note. Our year has been a true roller coaster of events between the unnecessary crashes, and repeated broken driveline bits. We now know what works and what doesn't, next year will be the true testament as to the competitiveness of the Viper".

As if the week wasn't long enough already, the Primetime team had one more race to go before ending their season. The final round of the 2008 IMSA Lites Series was still to come. Sunday morning following the 4 hour ALMS main event, remained a 75 minute endurance race for Feinberg and his teammates Anthony Nicolosi, and Jarrett Boon. The trio of drivers had already clinched a runner up position with Feinberg in the driver championship as well as a runner up in the team championship.

Traditionally, this series is comprised of two 30 minute sprint races at each venue. As a finale to the season, IMSA had extended the final race to a 75 minute enduro, with a mandatory 5 minute pit stop where teams had an option to fuel, but would require the driver to be out of the car. The 20 car field would have a 45 minute window to take their pit stop which would make keeping track of position a difficult chore.

With Feinberg on pole at the start, his strategy was to check out. When the green flag dropped, he did just that. Feinberg led the race for the first 45 minutes until taking his pit stop. Once back on track Feinberg still maintained the lead for two more laps until getting punted by another car that was a lap behind. The challengers behind in P2 and P3 capitalized on the incident and claimed the lead.

The second full course caution had come out, and as the field joined the pace car the clock was running down. Feinberg now held P4 and the lead was held by Richard Berry whose fuel stop strategy took him from the back of the field to the front at the restart. With only 11 minutes remaining, the green flag was thrown and Feinberg was on a mission, taking P3 on the front straight, P2 on the exit of turn 4, and P1 in the brake zone of turn 5. Another full course caution had come just seconds after Feinberg made his move. The race would end under caution and the Primetime #7 car would make its way to victory lane.

Feinberg had set the fastest lap of the day with a 1:22.1 throughout the 43 lap race and would have another trophy to add to his collection for the year. With 9 podiums including 2 wins in the 12 round series, Feinberg had ended his season with the entire Primetime crew joining him on the top of the podium. "This has been an incredible year", said Feinberg. "The balancing act that this team has managed to conquer this year between running our ALMS GT2 program, and 3 cars in this series, is a feat in itself. The win today just shows that this team is a contender at any level of racing, I couldn't have driven as hard as I did in both series this year without the solid support of my team, the 15 men and woman behind the wall are the true champions".

-credit: prg

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