Lexington, Ohio - Saturday 28 June 2003 PM Tommy Riggins and Dave Machavern teamed again tonight to win the GTS class and finish third overall in the Grand American Road Racing 250 mile (or 3 hours) race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course just...
Lexington, Ohio - Saturday 28 June 2003 PM
Tommy Riggins and Dave Machavern teamed again tonight to win the GTS class and finish third overall in the Grand American Road Racing 250 mile (or 3 hours) race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course just outside Lexington, Ohio. The race, starting at 6PM ET, was timed to finish as the sun bowed golden just behind the scoring pylon at Mid-Ohio, and ran 102 laps around the 2.258 mile road course. At the end the Mustang GTS and three prototypes were the only four on the lead lap, Riggins just sixteen seconds back.
What's most interesting is that the contestants did not run in this order the entire race. The Stu Hayner driven Sky Blue Racing number 29 GTS Mustang stayed with the prototypes early on, leaving the number 48 Mustang of Heritage Motorsports to run an early conservative pace. By the end of hour one Hayner had the 29 in the lead. Hour two passed the same way, with a different order trailing behind and the 48 Heritage Mustang firming up to fourth place overall.
Race strategy is so important. Riggins and Machavern obviously are a winning pair in this respect. At the first full-course caution the Hayner Mustang pitted, taking only fuel and no driver change. The Heritage Motorsports car pitted, changing all four tires, taking fuel and making a driver change from Riggins to Machavern.
Driving a more conservative pace can be a difficult strategy when a seemingly identical car is running faster, but it may be what paid off tonight. Late in the race came another full-course caution, just a lap after the 29 Mustang pitted during green-flag racing, Stu Hayner fulfilling a mandatory driver swap with Eric Curran and finally taking tires. This move may have thrown the race to Heritage Motorsports. The double yellow flags were thrown moments after the now Curran driven 29 left the pits, allowing the Heritage Mustang GTS to fuel, re-tread and do another driver swap, back to Riggins who caught the field before the green dropped on a dash to the finish.
At this point it still looked as though the 29 Mustang would dominate, but in the end two additional factors emerged: 1) the 29 car would probably have to stop toward the end for a splash-'n-go while the 48 Mustang not, and 2) the 29 Mustang team, putting in a stunning run, simply broke their motor with the effort. It is suspected that the Sky Blue team may have been issued a penalty for a pit-lane infraction, but if that was to be, the opportunity never presented.
The end became even more exciting for Mustang and Ford fans, even GTS category stalwarts. Tommy Riggins, always putting on a great show, fought his way into third, behind Le Mans winning Hurley Haywood in the number 59 Brumos Porsche prototype. With about ten laps remaining a battle raged for second place, David Donohue, son of legend Mark Donohue, in the 58 Brumos Porsche prototype team car getting by both Riggins and Haywood to claim that second spot. The three were hashing at it nose-to-tail, with Riggins also passing Haywood. Once more, as the trend has developed, the 48 Heritage Motorsports Mustang GTS mixed it up with the technically advantaged Daytona Prototypes, only 16.549 seconds separating the top four cars.
Heritage Motorsports has lengthened its existing team owner points lead and closed the gap, with this race, on the drivers' points, now behind only 5 points to first place.
Television coverage of this exciting race is tape delayed to air Sunday, June 29, and will begin at noon ET on SPEED Channel.