PRIMETIME SEES LIGHT AT THE END OF A LONG TUNNEL August 10th, 2008 Generac 500 At Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin- When the privateer team led by Joel Feinberg arrived at Road America on Thursday they were welcomed by a new surprise by...
PRIMETIME SEES LIGHT AT THE END OF A LONG TUNNEL
August 10th, 2008 Generac 500 At Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin- When the privateer team led by Joel Feinberg arrived at Road America on Thursday they were welcomed by a new surprise by their tire partner, "Hankook Tire USA".
A new wider front tire that the team had been looking forward to was delivered and ready for testing. Immediately following the first practice that day, drivers Feinberg and Hall were ecstatic with the gains from the 12inch front tire. The team had been struggling with the heavy load from their front engine V10 Viper on the front tires which caused an unruly amount of understeer. Once the new tire was brought into the cars setup it allowed the team to soften the suspension and work on keeping the car compliant through the corners.
By the time qualifying had come around on Friday, the Primetime team had shed nearly 5 seconds from their lap times and were moving into the top 10 on the grid. Co-driver Chris Hall would record a qualifying time of 2:11.8 leaving them only a few seconds out of the middle of the field.
Looking for some extra laps on the 4 miles course Friday afternoon, team owner Joel Feinberg was one of the hundreds of charitable entrants in the Tour de Road American benefiting the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Nomex had been replaced by spandex and riders would pedal their bicycle around the historic track into the sunset.
Unfortunately during the race warm up, team owner Joel Feinberg had found some brake handling issues causing a lock up and a set of flat spotted tires. The team had elected to abandon the qualifying tire and take their position at the end of the line for the start of the race.
Feinberg had the honors of taking the green flag for the start of the 4 hour (500 Mile) race. Once the flag was waved the mission was to reel in as many cars as possible while taking advantage of the new found results in the cars setup. As expected, the race times of the GT field were not as quick as the qualifying times and the bulky Dodge Viper had a chance of keeping up. Through the first few laps Feinberg was able to get by the 007 Aston Martin as well as hold off a factory supported Ferrari. Just as the field began to settle into its rhythm, the leading LMP cars had come around to break up all the fun and cause the field of GT drivers to look out all four windows at the same time.
After less than 25 minutes into the race, the double yellow had been thrown and the string of cautions and restarts had begun. Feinbergs stint would go on for another hour and fifteen minutes after a quick fuel stop during the first caution. Primetime co-driver Chris Hall would take the wheel as the team was confident they would finally break their string of bad luck. After forty minutes in the Viper, Hall radioed in to the pits that he had lost power to the wheels after exiting turn 12. Hall thought he had enough momentum to coast the car into the pits but after turning onto the front straight he had found himself looking up over forty feet of incline to make it to the teams' pitbox.
Bad luck would once again get the best of the teams unwavering efforts, Hall had come to rest halfway up the hill when the 3000 pound Viper stopped rolling. Corner workers and race officials had made a safety judgment call to instruct Hall to allow the car to roll back down the hill where he would get tucked behind a wall and once again be forced to watch the race go on without him.
Once the 4 hour race had ended the team was able to retrieve their car and tow it back to their garage where they would waste no time tearing down the car to find the problem. The obvious components of the driveline were all still intact leaving no other possibilities except the rear end. Once it was removed the rear end revealed a broken stub axle which connects the half shaft axles to the gears in the rear end. After inspecting the failed piece, crew chief Brent O'Neill was once again stunned with disbelieve. In his 30 years of racing he had never seen this type of freak incident occur, the solid steel stub had sheared clean from its post at the driveline.
"This is another slap in the face for our team" said owner Joel Feinberg. "We keep showing up every racing thinking that this will be the one and so far that time has yet to come. We leave these races wondering how we were able to make it through 12 hours at Sebring without a hiccup, but we can't get through a 2-4 hour race".
The teams' next stop is the 2008 Grand Prix of Mosport at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada on August 24th. The will have 3 extra cars to run in the IMSA Lites double header where Feinberg will be looking to advance his second place points position in the championship as well as co-pilot the GT2 Viper back into contention.