Mid-Ohio: Banner Racing race report

Collins and Edwards finish their Banner Pontiac GXP.Rs in 11th at Mid-Ohio Marc Bunting taken out of contention early in the ...

Collins and Edwards finish their Banner Pontiac GXP.Rs in 11th at Mid-Ohio

Marc Bunting taken out of contention early in the #06 Banner Pontiac

Lexington, Ohio (June 20, 2008): Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards made the best of horrible track conditions and failing transponder to finish their No. 07 Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R in 11th position in Round 8 of the Rolex Grand-Am Championships Presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 the EMCO Gears Classic.

Marc Bunting got taken out of the race when the #67 Porsche of Tim George slammed into the No 06 Banner Pontiac GXP.R was heavy rains were sweeping the Mid-Ohio track. The car was retired only 8 laps into the race as Bunting's co-driver Jan Magnussen never turned a lap.

The race here at Mid-Ohio began under threat of rain but the field took the green flag at 5:06 PM on a dry track on dry tires. Unfortunately that didn't last long as the rains began in earnest 7 laps into the 2 and three-quarter hour event.

And with the rains came trouble for both Banner Pontiac GXP.Rs as the Grand-Am Series supplied transponder that tracks the car each time it passes the start finish line was failing and not recording laps for Kelly Collins' #07 Banner Pontiac.

During the caution period on lap 18 Edwards had to pit the #07 Banner Pontiac to have the transponder replaced as it had failed very early in the race. The repair even under caution put the #07 a lap down and still the transponder didn't work.

The day for the #06 Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R was worse as Marc Bunting had moved up into the 11th position when the threatening skies stopped, threatening that is, and started a deluge that would in effect end the day for the #06 Banner Pontiac GXP.R.

"We went down into turn 7 at the end of the straight and there were cars all over the place spinning off the track." said Marc Bunting of his abbreviated Mid-Ohio race. "I got it slowed down enough to avoid the spinning cars but one of the TRG Porsches couldn't get slowed down and t-boned me basically. We knew it was going to come but it basically came out of nowhere. Standing water and slicks aren't a good combination.

"He was really moving because he hit me really hard!"

"All of a sudden he (Bunting) came over the radio and said 'someone hit me hard' and I thought 'what is Marc doing on my radio'," said Kelly Collins.

The #06 Banner Pontiac GXP.R was classified in 21st position.

"The car was good and right at the start I got by a few people but after that it got tougher because the Porsches and Mazdas were able to drive by me on the straight," said Bunting. "I was just trying to play it smart and slow and just hand it over to Jan but unfortunately it just didn't happen today."

Kelly Collins also got off to a good start in the #07 Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R and moved up to 4th position but you couldn't tell by the scoring monitor as the Grand-Am supplied transponder that registers every time the car passes the start finish line was malfunctioning.

"We were holding our own at the start and it was OK for awhile and I even moved up a couple of spots," said Collins. "But once things settled down and the race started falling into place we started losing positions and I fell back to where were destined to be.

"Then the deluge came and I slowed way down and made it through but during the caution the heat from the engine fogged up my windshield. On that restart (after the rain delay) I couldn't see anything. Fortunately we went back to yellow right away.

"The car was good and I was just setting a reasonable pace and biding my time. I wish we had a defroster though!"

From there Paul Edwards soldiered on just turning in laps and trying to finish the race as the wet conditions continued until there was less than a half hour left.

Edwards survived to record an 11th place finish which considering all that had transpired that day gave the Banner Racing team some solace on what could have been a disastrous weekend.

"Dude, you finished better than you think," said Kelly Collins to his co-driver when he got out of the #07 Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R they share.

"We just went roundy round and took the checker without hitting anybody or going off the track. It was one of those days but it could have been lot worse," said Edwards of the race. "The 70 car had a tough race too and we did gain points on both the 67 and 87 Porsches because they crashed.

"We lost some ground to the #57 Pontiac team of Liddell and Davis in the points but they finished second for Pontiac so we are happy about that.

"I was just cruising out there. I was a lap down and there was no sense in trying to be a hero and risk anything. I drove about 80 percent and just tried to stay out of trouble and keep that #40 car behind me. I was able to get on it a bit for those last few laps.

"We were pretty strong here in the dry but we were just giving away too much on the straights and I think that the car would have been ok so had we been in the race I would have pushed it harder but being a lap down I completely stayed out of everything. I just cruised today trying to stay out of trouble and score the best finish we could."

"It was a tough one," said Banner Racing team owner Leighton Reese. "But we stretched out a lot of points on the 67 car but we lost a few positions to the #70 Mazda. We lost our points lead a little bit but we are still in a strong position. It was ugly but it wasn't a DNF! We suffered through a broken transponder in Paul and Kelly's car and Marc Bunting had a big crash in the #06 Banner Pontiac.

"It was an expensive weekend but it probably could have been worse!"

"It is a shame we couldn't have a better run for all of the Banner Engineering people here today but that happens sometimes," concluded Paul Edwards of a very soggy Round 8 at Mid-Ohio. "We just got caught out by a Grand-Am part when the transponder failed and we lost a lap when we had to come in and change it."

-credit: br

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Paul Edwards , Jan Magnussen , Kelly Collins , Leighton Reese , Marc Bunting