SpeedQuest Racing is always looking towards the future, and this past weekend's event at Mid Ohio was no different. The team unveiled a new car and a new number as the beginning of many new things for the future of this program. The...
SpeedQuest Racing is always looking towards the future, and this past weekend's event at Mid Ohio was no different. The team unveiled a new car and a new number as the beginning of many new things for the future of this program. The new 2005 Mustang GT caught the eye of the media and fans, but most notably our competition.
With only one independent test session under our belts prior to arriving to the circuit, we were well aware of the hurdles we would have to overcome in our first event with a new car. The Thursday test day at Mid Ohio proved to be valuable for us by sorting so many of the bugs that come with having a new car. As both the drivers and team got acclimated to the car, our times began improving with each session.
The thought of a race at Mid Ohio with 70 cars fighting for position was a scary one, so we put a lot of stress on the importance of qualifying well. We decided to let the bulk of the competition go out first while we waited for a clear spot on track to send out driver Adam Pecorari. The first few laps went well enough to start in the top 10, but Adam felt there was more in the car if he had a clear lap and pulled into pit lane to cool the tires and find that gap. With only two minutes left in the session, we sent him back out knowing he would get back by the start finish line in time to do one last flying lap. On the last lap of the session Adam pushed hard and took another three tenths off our time to put us in the top five overall to start the race. "I was very happy with Adams qualifying times, he has done a great job qualifying the SpeedQuest entry every time out!" says co-driver Romeo Kapudija. Upset with himself because he felt there was still plenty of time in the car, especially through turn one, the team assured him we were all pleased with his efforts. "The car was great for qualifying, we definitely had a shot to be in the top 3," stated Pecorari.
Going from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in just a few minutes time, we were notified by the series officials that the control arm brackets, which hang below the rear bodywork hit on the ride height test, and we failed the test by just a few millimeters and would be relegated to the back of the GS class grid. Even though there is no competitive gain by having these brackets off by a few mills, the rules are the rules and we would have to start in 36th position.
Adam was to start the race with driver Romeo Kapudija to finish, an order that worked very well for us the last time out. With Team Director Eric Burch telling his young driver to keep his nose clean, push hard at the start, but pick his spots wisely to pass, Adam was off and running at the drop of the green flag. After only four green flag laps, we were going under yellow and Adam had already picked up 15 positions, and found himself in 21st in the overall order. With 10 laps under yellow flag conditions, we felt strongly we could finish the race on one stop. Going back under green, Adam found more time in the car and was now running some of the fastest laps in the race and clicking off positions every lap.
Only six laps back under green, Pecorari stated that the car had a massive push and wasn't easy to drive, but kept turning off quick times. Now in 13th position the driver advised us the engine was cutting out in the turns, something like a fuel pickup problem. We told him there was plenty of fuel in the car, and we had to keep him out there under green flag conditions. As the problem got more severe, and our lap times started to drop by seconds every lap, we began loosing all those positions that Adam worked so hard to take. We had to make the unfortunate decision to pit him under green and fix the problem. "It was an extremely difficult decision to come in under green, but in a lap or two we could have lost all power. The team did a great job with the car as we were developing the 05 Mustang GT throughout the weekend. Hats off to SpeedQuest and Rehagen Racing for providing a great car, and hopefully we will get our taste of victory in Pheonix" stated Pecorari.
During the stop, bypassing a clogged fuel filter, we put driver Romeo Kapudija in the car and fresh rubber under him. With the two minute pit stop to address the problem, we dropped back to 52nd overall position, loosing 39 spots. Romeo was told he had the green light to push hard to get those positions back, but just two laps into his stint, our competition got the yellow flag that we so desperately needed, which only hurt us now.
Romeo restarted and quickly made up 16 positions within his first seven laps of green flag conditions to move into 36th overall. Now a timely yellow that hurt us earlier, gave us back our lap as we received a wave by from the pace car. Kapudija stated he would do what he could when we went back green, but similar to Adam Pecorari's comments, the car was just handling horribly. Romeo stated "It was very challenging, just to keep the Mustang on the track due to the huge push we had in the car".
Moving up another 14 positions to 22nd overall over the next 15 laps, Romeo stated the car had nothing left, and has having difficulty getting around the competition. With 20 laps remaining in the event, he made a few more passes before the handling problem caught him out and put us into the tire wall ending our day. "I know how much time and effort was put into the preparation of our new car and I felt terrible for the SpeedQuest/Rehagen crew after I crashed!" continues Romeo Kapudija "Hopefully we will put the #59 Mustang GT on the podium in Phoenix!"
All was not lost this weekend as we learned a great deal about the new car, with the team and drivers feeling very confident going forward about our potential in the new machine. Next up we will work very hard to take the checker at Phoenix at the front of the GS pack.