VIR EPILOGUE - BOSCH ENGINEERING 250 LEFTOVERS IT'S IN THE HEART Just as Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates' Lexus engine is being taken to task for Rolex Series wins, so too are the Toyota cars of Joe Gibbs Racing's Tony Stewart and Kyle...
VIR EPILOGUE - BOSCH ENGINEERING 250 LEFTOVERS
IT'S IN THE HEART
Just as Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates' Lexus engine is being taken to task for Rolex Series wins, so too are the Toyota cars of Joe Gibbs Racing's Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch over in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series.
Both bearing power plants born of the "TRD" (Toyota Racing Development) brainchild, the San Diego-based outfit is getting a little shell-shocked as a result of the complaints.
In last season's NASCAR Sprint Cup there was hardly a thing "Toyota" could do right, starting right away with Michael Waltrip Racing's near meltdown after a "mysterious" and highly embarrassing substance was found in a Waltrip Toyota-engine intake manifold.
On the Rolex Series side Scott Pruett has finished second in Daytona Prototype points every year since his 2004 championship.
While this writer would love to drive well enough to finish as high as Jim Matthews, Pruett doesn't care to finish second to anyone at anytime.
He's now dine such three times in the championship hunt. Wanna bet he's not at least a little tired of doing so?
And what about Kyle Busch? In 2007 Hendrick Motorsports all but unceremoniously replaced him with Dale Earnhardt Jr. How one couldn't think Busch, as a consequence, isn't at least a tad bit irritated would be a question for the millennia.
Such isn't to say Little E ain't good looking, talented or isn't otherwise wonderful in all things, everywhere. It is to say, however, that it's easy to understand Kurt's little brother taking umbrage as a result of the shuffle.
So, between a sportscar racer who's tired of finishing second in the championship and a stock car driver who got dumped (if not dumped-on), it's more likely TRD just happens to share a coincidental common thread with both.
The bottom line is that should anyone want to beat these two in their respective arenas, the challengers - from car owners through floor sweepers - are gonna have to dig deep and at least as much as Busch The Younger and Pruett The Winer (the latter having more to do with "someone engaged in the production of wine" and nothing to do with a phonetic connection to "complaining in vitriolic manner") (hey, Scott, I could've chosen "Wino" but that was far worse; I was just trying to plug the winery, you know).
SPEAKING OF 'DIGGING'
Stevenson Motorsports posted their second-straight GT win at VIR's Bosch 250, the fourth round of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.
Stevenson Motorsports scored a GT win just eight days previous at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.
Post-race, the team cited its race strategy as the key difference between the North Carolina-based team and the rest of the GT pack.
Driver Andrew Davis started the No. 57 Pontiac GXP.R from the front row's outside pole, thereafter staying within striking distance of first place before handing the car off to co-driver Robin Liddell.
Liddell, in concert with team manager Mike Johnson, made a timely late-race race pit stop to put and keep the Stevenson team at the GT-field's front.
John Stevenson, who about a year ago likely concluded he had labored at this gig longer than he would care to remember, after the race said of the team's consecutive wins, "We just kept digging. That's what you gotta do in life."
On the edge of returning to the podium - if not winning outright - Brumos Racing's Nos. 58 and 59 Porsche-Riley Daytona Prototypes have been fast but not nearly bulletproof enough.
At VIR the race had barely gotten underway when the No. 58, David Donohue at the wheel, pulled into the pits with the car "incapable of putting power to the pavement," according to frustrated co-driver Darren Law.
The 58 Brumos car's problem was gearbox related and as the team worked to repair it the No. 59 - J.C. France at the wheel - tangled on Lap-31 with Jon Fogarty and his No. 99 GAINSCO Pontiac-Riley.
"Fogarty was just flat-out bulling his way up through the field," an agitated France said after he yielded the No. 59's steering wheel to co-driver Joao Barbosa. "I gave him room but, ultimately, it's the responsibility of the overtaking car to take the greatest care because he's got the momentum, closing rate and can determine his line. Besides, there is this thing called 'a point of no return,' you know. I've got to turn the car at some point, for (gosh) sake. I can't just literally park it because someone else wants to pass."
Following the run-in, and as series' announcer Michael Paz noted, the No. 59 looked as though a large can-opener had been applied to the car's right-side door and pod area, leaving an ugly open scar that didn't deter Barbosa from soldiering on to a 13th-place finish - one-lap down to race-winner Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas' No. 01 TELMEX Lexus-Riley fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.
Fogarty would later assign fault to someone or something else.
"I had a clean pass but we got hit from behind," Fogarty said of the clash while waxing his Simon Legree mustache.
"He was on the outside of me. I went underneath him and was well on my way exiting the corner, accelerating hard, hit the apex of the turn and was tracking out and then just 'bang!' from behind. I have no idea what happened."
Along with determining Fogarty's chosen mustache wax, interested parties will be watching the race's May 3 SPEEDtv broadcast to ascertain who did what, when, where and how.
Still others will have forgotten about it by the series' next stop at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, May 16.
A DODGE CHALLENGER?
Look for an announcement at any time about a ground-breaking Grand-Am Dodge program which will compete in the GT class of the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.
Mentioned in the same breath by some (even though one would have to inhale big-time before the mention began) is driver/car-owner Tom Nastasi (paired with co-driver Jean-Francois Dumoulin) who has been a longtime and winning Ford-power kind of guy but who at Homestead-Miami Speedway expressed some relationship-ending frustration. Nastasi went on to state his intention to change brands - though stopping short of precisely divulging the car make to which he might switch.
Various sources at VIRginia International Raceway's Bosch Engineering 250 said Nastasi's Black Forest Motorsports-managed car will be a Crawford Composites-built Dodge Challenger.
If everything works as perceived it'll be the first time a Dodge has competed in a full-season Rolex Series GT-class effort.
Back in the Roaring Twenties, hearing such a thing made men salivate like dogs; Pavlov's puppies, to be exact.
Things change (starring Don Ameche and Joe Mantegna).
The No. 01 Telmex and No. 99 Gainsco cars were sent to the field's rear when Rolex Series officials found their respective Gurney Flaps to be slightly larger than allowed.
Give or take, each illegal Flapper was somewhere in the neighborhood of one-thousandth of an inch out of allowed spec - less than the thickness of commonly used 24-lb. printer paper but nevertheless evidently having grave impact in things "aero."
With the penalty, at race start the Nos. 99 and 01 were respectively scored in positions 19 and 18, behind the rest of their DP brethren.
Choosing to sit out the grid's rolling start, the Telmex car kicked it into gear from the pits when the "green-means-go" flag flew and wedged itself between the DPs going into VIR's Turn 1 and the GT cars looming behind on the front straight.
Rojas at the wheel, the team saved two pace-laps' worth of fuel. Later, with Pruett in the seat, the CGRwFS team led the race for 20 laps before taking the checkered flag.
Fogarty and his GAINSCO car compiled 18 lead laps, but he and Alex Gurney would fade to a 14th-place finish after the above-mentioned run-in with the No. 59.
As a result of their success, more teams might be inclined toward using the Telmex's race-start variation. Perchance, do you, too, "feel" an impending rule-modification?
Absent a rule change, should enough "parked" cars render future rolling green-flag-starts nearly meaningless, perhaps a count-down clock could be introduced and, neater still, starting drivers could sprint from one side of pit lane to the other, climb in their cars, fire 'em up and peel out while playing dodge.
Hey, I can dig it.
Ian Waitt, former Cheever Racing engineer and present-day member of NASCAR's Gillett Evernham Motorsports' organization, hung out with his immediate family at the Bosch Engineering 250 at VIRginia International Raceway, Sunday.
Seeking to channel airflow formerly lost to the DP's side instead to the DP's rear deck and wing area, Waitt's cutting-edge work on the Fabcar-turned-Coyote likely should in that regard be credited with having broken the Gen-1 DP "mold."
Though the team's 2007 Crown Royal Special Reserve (now, Crown Royal Cask No. 16) had largely been only on the series' radar-screen perimeter, Waitt's work landed the team in center-screen at last season's Mid-Ohio EMCO Gears Classic when driver Christian Fittipaldi put the car on the outside pole - the purple DP having been the only other car to hit the same time "zone" as that of the rail-riding, pole-sitting No. 99 GAINSCO Pontiac-Riley.
When Gen-2 DP renderings started showing up at Grand Am's offices last fall most had air-flow channels similar to Waitt's.
"The direction we were going hadn't come from a computer or air tunnel tests as much as from inside my head," Waitt said. "I was just thinking about how the car might perform better aerodynamically and applied it."
Though it may be incorrect to solely credit Waitt with the evolution (other designers might well have been heading in the same direction with respective, but behind-closed-doors Gen-2 projects) the transplanted Scotsman's evolutionary effort was certainly first seen by any who cared to look at a car that morphed slightly from race to race while the team used race events as wind-tunnel test sessions.
Transitioning from a mostly single-car operation to having more cars under roof than some new car dealers have on sales lots, Waitt says his new NASCAR gig is one he's enjoyed since making his move late in the 2007 season.
"Going from a 10-person team to one having hundreds of employees is a bit different," Waitt said Sunday, referring to the new names he's had to learn as well as the work style of each. (Frankly, I hoped the Scotsman would say "a 'wee' bit different.")
Working now with largely fixed stock car aero styling, Waitt says he mostly concentrates on the mechanical grip side but often on cars that were already well into the production stage before he arrived.
"It's like turning around a big ship; the changes will take time," he said. "But I'm really enjoying the challenge."
The really strange thing about Waitt (brace yourself, Sean Connery): he doesn't play golf. Strange guy, this Waitt.
"HELLO" RUBY TUESDAY
Fielding a car for Beyer Racing's Jared Beyer, Ricky Taylor and Andy Wallace in the Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR, the full Crawford Composites contingent was on hand.
Fortunately, Ruby Tuesday's impending use of the Crawford DP08 Gen-2 Daytona Prototype was also fodder for discussion.
Slated for the June 6-7 Sahlen's Six Hours Of The Glen, the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Porsche-powered team clearly is excited about the new bodywork as well. With good reason: shod The Ruby in her new shoes and, the bet is, she's gonna fly.
Crawford designer Andy Scriven (who was at VIR, along with Max and Jan Crawford, purple-haired Katie and The Gang) started with a "clean sheet" when designing the Gen-2 Crawford DP08 (and if you think the new Dallara's nose is funky...).
According to the Crawford gang, other than having four wheels, a windscreen and other generically-named parts, the DP08 DP car looks nothing like its predecessor, now most frequently seen in the form of the present Ruby Tuesday.
Leading the Bosch 250 for 10-laps before its eventual seventh-place finish, while in the lead AJR contemplated trying to make a run to the race's end before they relented, opting for a fuel stop that somehow stopped just short of getting enough fuel in the car to make much more than a following muted dash for the checkered flag.
NOW COMES SOME TESTING
The No. 47 BSI/CDOC/Anasten Plus Ford-Dallara of Burt Frisselle and Gabriele Gardel hasn't had a lick of testing, according to team patriarch Brad Frisselle.
"Now, we'll finally get some time to do some testing and make some changes to the car," the elder Frisselle said.
Looking good but perhaps pushing a tad too much in the wake of recent abdominal surgery, Frisselle said one of the chief areas of focus will be ventilation.
"It's so doggone hot in that cockpit right now that it's going to be one of the first things we'll work on," he said.
The Kevin Doran-managed car first ran at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, whereupon its out-of-the-box speed quickly turned some heads. At VIR the car qualified 10th and finished the race in 8th place - one of 10 DPs on the lead lap at race end.
The No. 76 ProAuto-built Pontiac-Lola out of Krohn Racing and driven by Nic Jonsson outright led 15 laps in the Bosch 250 at VIR - third best among the competing drivers. Boys and girls, the car looked very competent.
Though eventually falling from grace two-laps down with a 17th-place finish - the No. 75 sister car finished 12th - the Lola and Jonsson were able to pull out and maintain a consistent, mostly unchallenged race pace.
"We've still got some work to do but the car's getting there," team owner Tracy Krohn said.
No, not William (a "Scot" having already been mentioned and all).
Andy Wallace was one happy camper after his closing VIR shift in the No. 19 Beyer Racing Ford-Crawford.
"Before today we had absolutely no data on the Pirelli tires," Wallace said, adding that he wouldn't have been able to gather any tire data had the car not come through unscathed from earlier shifts and that such was a testimonial to the driving skills of the previously untested (in DP) but up-and-coming youngster Jared Beyer.
Wayne Taylor offspring Ricky Taylor also shared driving duties in the car. (Brother Jordan Taylor, also a talented driver, was going stir crazy watching everyone else race. "Sheer torture," said he.)
Getting in about 19 laps, Wallace joined the race a lap down and just in front of the race leaders.
"I didn't want to get in the way of the leaders and just allowed them to pass and joust among themselves," Wallace said. "But once I let them by I kept a relatively similar pace."
Other than to note the Pirelli Grand-Am P-Zero is "a modern tire," Wallace preferred to keep his other "tire" thoughts from print - more a case of a really fast race car driver guarding proprietary thoughts than anything else.
NEXT: California's beautiful Monterey Peninsula in mid-May and some darn good golf. Give me a holler for tee times, Mr. Connery; Waitt won't.
DC Williams exclusively for Motorsport.com