Dempsey Racing 2009 season review

Mazda's Patrick Dempsey, Joe Foster and Dempsey Racing Turn in Best Season Yet in 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Series GT Team and Drivers Looking Forward To 2010 after Joining Ranks of GT Podium Contenders ATLANTA (November 25, 2009) -- Dempsey...

Mazda's Patrick Dempsey, Joe Foster and Dempsey Racing Turn in Best Season Yet in 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Series GT

Team and Drivers Looking Forward To 2010 after Joining Ranks of GT Podium Contenders

ATLANTA (November 25, 2009) -- Dempsey Racing and lead drivers Patrick Dempsey and Joe Foster gave Mazda another top challenger in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series in 2009 with career-best performances for both the team and its drivers in the GT class of Grand-Am Road Racing's top division this season. The Dempsey Racing team, Dempsey, Foster and frequent stand-in driver Charles Espenlaub combined to post career-high race, qualifying and championship results in the No. 40 Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 GT this year and the goal is to carry that momentum into the 2010 Grand-Am Rolex Series season.

Dempsey Racing contested the full Grand-Am Rolex Series schedule for the first time in 2009 after debuting the now familiar No. 40 Mazda RX-8 GT late in 2007 at Miller Motorsports Park. A solid record of seven top-10 finishes in this year's 12 races produced a team-best eighth-place showing in the final Grand-Am Rolex Series GT season championship standings and over a half-dozen other career milestones for the team and its drivers along the way.

The team's most significant development of the year was the emergence of Dempsey who put in the best season of his driving career. The popular star of the hit ABC television show Grey's Anatomy once again had to juggle his race schedule with the demands of his Hollywood "day job," but that didn't prevent the fifth-year driver from reaching new heights on the track in 2009 with a string of competitive performances, including strong stints in treacherous wet conditions at New Jersey and Mid Ohio.

"First of all, just being able to race with what is going on in the economy is a blessing," said Dempsey after last month's season-ending race at the Grand Prix of Miami. "The way the team has come along has been incredible. When we looked at our goals in the first part of the year, we just wanted to be competitive and I think we showed that day in and day out. I was out of the car for a number of races and when I got back in it was very competitive. The team never quit working and we will continue that focus and build for next year."

Dempsey teamed with Foster in more than half of this year's races and joined his co-driver in giving Dempsey Racing a then season-best sixth-place finish at Mid-Ohio in June. The result is Dempsey's career-best Grand-Am Rolex Series finish to date and he was also behind the wheel of the Mazda for three more of the team's top-10 showings this year.

Foster, the 2008 Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series GS Champion, also recorded career-best GT results this year as the team's anchor driver at all 12 events. Just two races after the strong run with Dempsey at Mid-Ohio, Foster joined Espenlaub for a breakout weekend at Barber Motorsports Park in July. Foster started on the GT front row after a personal and team-best second-place qualifying effort and then co-drove to a fourth-place finish in the race with Espenlaub, the best finish ever for Dempsey Racing. Foster and Espenlaub duplicated the top race result just two races later at Montreal while closing fast on the leaders as the checkered flag flew. Foster also put the No. 40 Mazda on the outside front row for the second time in 2009 when he qualified second fastest for the next-to-last race of the season at Miller in September.

"This season was very rewarding, which is nice, because all of your hard work doesn't necessarily pay off all of the time with positive results in racing," Foster said. "But we proved this year that if you put the right mix of equipment and people together with a solid and non-stop effort, you have a much better chance at coming out on top. Mazda and SpeedSource gave us great equipment, Patrick has never driven better and Charles is as good as any driver in the business. Most importantly the Dempsey Racing team raised its game in terms of engineering, pit stops and all the details required to run near the front each week. We were knocking on a top-three finish more than once this year and finishing on the podium -- and even a race win -- is the goal in 2010."

Dempsey Racing's great season also included a top-10 finish in June's 24 Hours of Le Mans where Dempsey and Foster combined to drive more than 20 hours. Along with teammate Don Kitch Jr., they finished ninth in the GT2 class in the No. 81 Dempsey Racing/Team Seattle Ferrari F430 GT. The team hopes to return to Le Mans this June where Dempsey and his teammates will be looking to improve on the strong rookie result.

On the Grand-Am Rolex Series front, Dempsey Racing will be back for its third season and fourth consecutive year with Mazda. Dempsey and Foster will be the primary co-drivers of the No. 40 Mazda RX-8 GT and the team hopes to field a second RX-8 GT for the entire 2010 season.

"Joe and the team have done a great job to push the 40 towards the front, Mazda has been very supportive and it's great to be racing in the Grand-Am Rolex Series," Dempsey said. "It is really like a family here in this series and I just had a blast all year. It has been a great time and I just can't thank everybody enough to just have the chance to participate in this great series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. We went to work on our 2010 plans while we were still in Miami right after the race and the hard work will continue in the short off season."

-credit: dr

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