BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (August 2, 2006) -- The driver lineup for the i-MOTO Racing team at the 7th stop on the Grand American Cup Series schedule consisted of E. Glenn Bocchino and Roger Foo in the ...
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (August 2, 2006) -- The driver lineup for the i-MOTO Racing team at the 7th stop on the Grand American Cup Series schedule consisted of E. Glenn Bocchino and Roger Foo in the #188 car and Lee Niffenegger with new team driver Jeff Jensen in the #187 car. This would be the first time any of the team members has raced at Barber Motorsports Park. This is a spectacular venue with an incredibly technical track for the drivers to learn in a very short time. With that said, we all had to traverse a very steep learning curve to get the job done. The combination of fresh pavement and none of us have been here before created some excitement in itself. As well, not having any testing or racing data for this track, nor any other tracks resembling this narrow and tight technical circuit., The suspension setup was also a challenge. Unfortunately, the #187 car sustained moderate damage Saturday morning when an encounter off track with wet grass at the T12 exit resulted in contact. Luckily, Jeff was able to walk away uninjured! Our crew performed their magic, but, the car was unable to make the qualifying session and therefore had to start the race from the back row.
We wanted to try a different approach for this race at Barber Motorsports Park. Roger qualified and started the race for the 1st time this season to see if it would make a difference in the outcome. Wow, did it work out! As in the previous races the GS and ST classes would have a split start again. We started in the 8th spot and when the green flag flew, the GS cars had already started finding their ways into the gravel traps. Needless to say, by the time the ST group made our way to T1, the T1 gravel trap had already collected 3 GS class cars. Apparently the ST cars behind the #188 (Roger Foo) did not recognize the yellow flag before passing into T1. By T3, we had been passed by no less than 5 ST competitors before the race was slowed by a full course caution (yellow flag) condition.
During this full course caution, Roger had been in contact via 2 way radio with our crew chief to communicate what had transpired on the opening lap. The team had high hopes that the GA officials would find a way to straighten the grid back out. The 3rd lap under caution one of the Cobalt's that had made that pass into T1 slowed going into T3 to let the #188 car by and the # 27 car followed. Now we only had to make up 4 more positions! We were shuffled from our 8th place starting position back to 13th or so. Grand Am had mentioned to our crew they were going to re-grid the group for the restart. This action did not actually happen. Instead, they assessed drive through penalties to select teams for the passes made on the opening lap.
The restart came and we just had to get busy and make as many passes as we could muster. It was fun, but, definitely hard work getting by these guys. By lap 8 we had broken into the top 10 again and kept getting better as the laps and time progressed. By lap 23 we made it into the top 5. Roger stayed in contact with the team communicating the progress of our fuel level during this time. We thought that we should be in good position by the time refueling and the driver change would need to take place. Another 10 laps go by and we are now solidly into 3rd place. "This has by far been one of the toughest races I've been involved in quite some time!"
The #95 Turner BMW 330i is now in the lead, the #70 Speed Source Mazda RX-8 holding down 2nd and here we are, the #188 I-MOTO Racing Acura TSX commanding the 3rd position. We moved up to 2nd when the Speed Source #70 made their way to the pits on lap 41. By this time we also were in a low fuel situation and could only make a few more laps before our fuel would be completely depleted leaving us stranded on course. We made our way into the pits on lap 45 for our driver change to Glenn, refueling and installation of fresh front tires for his stint. The crew did a fantastic job during the pit stop to get Glenn back on track in what happened to be the fastest pit stop to date for our team. Awesome!
3 laps later, the Turner BMW #95 made their stop and shortly thereafter the full course caution yet again slowed the pace. This would hand the lead over to the #27 Acura RSX of the Plumb brothers during what would be the last caution period.
7 laps later Grand Am officials would make the call to red flag the race and halt racing due to the strong threat of an impending thunderstorm. After the gail force winds that wreaked havoc at Mid-Ohio in June, Grand Am did not want to take the risk of more damage. The race was halted under full course caution so that the teams and spectators could prepare for the storm. All of the teams were disappointed that the race did not conclude with racing under the green flag in the rain. While the stoppage was prudent, it ended our campaign to a podium finish. We would remain classified in 8th place for the final standings. Our feeling is that Glenn would have charged back to the front. We'll take a top ten, but, a podium finish would have been a nice reward for our crew's hard work and tireless efforts throughout this season. Our crew performed flawlessly during the event. We feel that they had prepared a car capable of winning the race if it had gone the full distance.
The 187 car apparently suffered from hidden mechanical damage sustained during practice contact and would be classified further down the order.
The I-MOTO Racing team will be sitting out the Trois-Rivieres event August 4-6 to better prepare for our assault on Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. The race will take place during the August 31- September 2nd Labor Day weekend. This race should also deliver good results as it is a new venue to a lot of the Grand American Cup competitors.