Jeff Segal Survives Rough Road America Debut In The No. 69 FXDD/SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 GT for 10th Place Finish In The Rolex Sports Car Series 250
Jeff Segal’s career debut at Road America Saturday in the Rolex Sports Car Series 250 Driven by VISITFLORIDA.com started in a way he liked but finished in a way he didn’t as he joined co-driver Emil Assentato for a disappointing 10th place result in the No. 69 FXDD/SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 GT.
Assentato started the FXDD car but only had a few laps of green flag racing before the event was slowed for a 51-minute full course caution period for lengthy track repairs after two other GT entries came together and crashed in Turn 1. Segal took the wheel of the No. 69 during a pit stop under caution just past the race’s 30 minute mark.
“We were right there when the race went green after the long caution,” said Segal, who ran as high as fourth. “We were with the lead group of cars and things were looking really good. On the restart, when everybody was on cold tires, our car was just as good as anybody’s, so it was really encouraging. I had some really good races with the 59 car and some other guys around there.”
Segal’s first setback came when he lost a few positions to avoid a spinning car, but it also soon became apparent the No. 69 was lacking the pace of some of the competition.
“I lost a few track positions when the 57 went off the track and I had to kind of avoid around him, but really we just didn’t seem to pick up the pace when everybody else did,” Segal said. “I was really fighting the handling of the car and it seemed like, for a variety of reasons, we just couldn’t produce the lap times. Slow on the straight, really having a lot of trouble braking and handling, and when you don’t have straight-line speed, you don’t have handling, you don’t have braking, you don’t really have much.”
Segal was also assessed a drive-through penalty for what GRAND-AM Road Racing officials deemed “avoidable contact” when the No. 69 and No. 41 Mazda RX-8 GTs came together while battling for position in the late stages of the race.
“Every position is important,” Segal said. “You look at how close the championship is this year, one or two points is a big, big swing. Near the end of the race we weren’t where we wanted to be, but we can’t give up those positions, we can’t afford to do that, and I think the other team is probably thinking the same thing. Unfortunately, at this point of the season, not leading the championship, we don’t have much of a reason to be conservative. If somebody does something a little bit outlandish, we are not going to let them get away with it. I am going to hold my ground.”
Despite Road America’s rough outing and result, the No. 69 FXDD/SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 GT team moved up to fifth in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT Team Championship standings with 171 points. The team is just five points out of fourth place and 20 markers behind the current class leaders.