AUSTIN, Texas – After standing on the podium twice in his March visit to Circuit of the Americas with GRAND-AM, Spencer Pumpelly seemed to be en route to his third COTA podium on Saturday, but a malfunctioning fuel pump robbed him of a third-place finish.

#45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup: Nelson Canache, Spencer Pumpelly
#45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup: Nelson Canache, Spencer Pumpelly

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Starting seventh in the hotly contested GTC field, Pumpelly’s co-driver Nelson Canache sliced through the competition and moved the No. 45 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup into third place before handing it over to Pumpelly an hour into the two hour and 45 minute race.

“Nelson did a great job in the opening stint, moving us up to third,” Pumpelly said. “We had a pretty big deficit to first and second, but a nice cushion back to fourth, so it seemed like we were going to cruise home to third place. We were saving tires for the end in case we got a yellow.”

A yellow flag never came out, but a fuel pressure warning did with only minutes remaining in the race. The team had no choice but to pit from third place with only 12 minutes remaining in the race. Pumpelly rejoined the race in fifth, with no time or opportunity to make up the lost ground. He very nearly missed out on a fifth-place finish as well, when the fuel pump issue reared its ugly head once more, but Pumpelly managed to coast the car across the finish line for a top-five finish.

“With 15 minutes left in the race, when we knew we were good to go on fuel, we got the low pressure warning on the car and I had to switch to reserve,” Pumpelly recalled. “I came in the pits to get a little extra gas. Then, on the last lap, it happened again. I had to crawl across the finish line and park the car as soon as I crossed the line.

“The crew is taking a look at it, but we think a fuel pump failed and that stopped all the fuel from getting out of the tank. It’s nothing anybody on the Flying Lizard crew did wrong, just a part failure.

“It’s disappointing because the difference between third and fifth in the points was significant for us. The No. 22 Alex Job Racing car was having problems, so we were poised to enhance the Lizard’s lead in the team championship and take the advantage in the driver points as well. Even though we narrowed our deficit to the leaders, I still feel like we missed an opportunity today.”

Pumpelly is back on track in short order, as he heads to Lime Rock Park, Sept 27 – 28, for the GRAND-AM Rolex Series and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge finales. There, Pumpelly will be on a mission to secure a Rolex Series GX Championship for BGB Motorsports and co-driver Dr. Jim Norman in the No. 38 Porsche Cayman. The Rolex Series race is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. ET on Saturday. It will air live on Fox Sports 2. The CTSCC GS finale is set for 9:50 a.m. on Saturday and airs Oct. 6, at 5 p.m., on Fox Sports 1.

Spencer Pumpelly