Watkins Glen Sees SpeedSource Score Valuable Points In Title Bid
Round 10 of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series joined the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule for a race-filled Saturday at the Watkins Glen International 2.45 mile short-course. In the first part of a two-weekend sprint format race, the SpeedSource team claimed a strong 4th place finish with the #70 Castrol Edge Mazda RX-8. Rounding out the top ten was the #69 FXDD Mazda RX-8 team car.
Opening driver, and team owner, Sylvain Tremblay started the #70 Castrol Edge Mazda RX-8 from the third grid position. The 2-hour sprint format race placed extra emphasis on an error-free showing, an area where the SpeedSource crew excels. An early yellow provided an opportunity for the #70 Mazda RX-8 to pit for a splash of fuel. Tremblay took advantage of the added Sunoco race fuel and extended his opening stint past the halfway mark of the race; this extension of range would prove to be critical in the race’s outcome. Co-driver Jonathan Bomarito took over with 52 minutes remaining and continued the charge to the race lead.
Strategist David Haskell called the car in for a timed fuel pit stop with about 35 minutes to go. The conservative strategy would allow Bomarito to continue pushing at an aggressive race-pace. In what would eventually turn out to be a very action-packed race finish, the #70 Castrol Edge Mazda RX-8 outwitted the competition by cycling up to a strong 4th place finish as other competitors ran out of fuel. With a slight disadvantage in straight line top speed and overall range, SpeedSource was able to make the best of the recent adjustment in fuel capacity rules and perform well through solid race strategy. Overall the finish solidifies the #70 RX-8 in 3rd place in the championship fight.
“I’m very proud of the effort this weekend from the team,” recalled Tremblay; “even though we didn’t necessarily have the outright pace today, our strategy and crew were awesome. We were able to maximize points and load a good racecar onto the truck for Montreal.”
Defending GT Class champions Emil Assentato and Jeff Segal ran a strong race to round out the top ten. Assentato, the Bob Akin award winner, drove a fantastic opening stint at the frontend of the GT pack before bringing the car to co-driver Jeff Segal. An excellent pit stop by the crew would send Segal out in prime position to contend with the GT class leaders through most of the race. Knowing that the car needed to run a two stop race to make it on fuel, Segal pitted for his final stop with around 40 minutes remaining. Segal continued to push through the field in the race’s closing minutes. The #69 FXDD Mazda RX-8 would go on to finish 10th.