Pumpelly, Ende Take Garden State 250 KONI Sports Car Challenge Race at New Jersey Motorsports Park MILLVILLE, N.J. (May 2, 2009) - Spencer Pumpelly passed Charles Espenlaub during the final 15 minutes of Saturday's two-and-a-half hour...
Pumpelly, Ende Take Garden State 250 KONI Sports Car Challenge Race at New Jersey Motorsports Park
MILLVILLE, N.J. (May 2, 2009) - Spencer Pumpelly passed Charles Espenlaub during the final 15 minutes of Saturday's two-and-a-half hour Garden State 250 at Thunderbolt Raceway at New Jersey Motorsports Park, the third round of the Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge season, and earned a victory for himself, co-driver Duncan Ende and TRG's No. 39 DigiTrust Group/Adam's Polishes Porsche 997.
Using the inside line of Turn 5, Pumpelly slipped two tires off the track but managed to keep the Porsche 997 out of the side of Espenlaub's No. 91 Imported Car Store/Sparco BMW M3, which belonged to the Automatic Racing team.
In ST, Compass360 Racing swept the Street Tuner podium, with Randy Pobst and Christian Miller gaining the victory in the final four minutes as all three cars led during the final 10 minutes. It was the second straight victory for Pobst and Miller, who also drove the No. 74 Skunk2/034 Motorsport Honda Civic Si won March's Grand-Am Fan Appreciation Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Pumpelly led twice for 22 laps, and made his way through the field as most of the leaders - including James Gue and Todd Lamb - came in for a splash of fuel during the final 20 minutes. Espenlaub had built a multi-second lead when Lamb pitted on Lap 81, but Pumpelly cut deep into that advantage and on Lap 86 of the 93-lap event, drove underneath Espenlaub as the pair was coming up on slower traffic.
After Pumpelly made the pass, he started pulling away, and he took the checkered flag 2.505 seconds ahead of Joey Hand, who moved through the field after stopping 15 minutes from the checkered flag in the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3. Hand, who led three laps midway through the race, teamed with Chris Gleason in the pair's best finish of 2009.
Finishing third were Billy Johnson and Peter Ludwig, who drove the No. 18 Dietz & Watson Porsche 997 that wasn't entered until Friday morning. The car finished second at the track last August.
While Espenlaub and co-driver Charles Putman's car faded to sixth at the checkered flag, the Automatic Racing team's other car, the No. 99 Hands Tool/Imported Car Store BMW M3, was fourth with David Russell and Barry Waddell driving. Gue and Bret Seafuse, driving JBS Motorsports' No. 37 Trumansburg ShurSave Ford Mustang GT, finished fifth, and moved to within three points (83-80) of the lead of Ken Wilden, who finished eighth in the No. 59 Rehagen Racing Ford Mustang GT he co-drove with Dean Martin.
Pobst's winning pass in the ST race came in a wild three-wide drag race to Turn 1 with less than four minutes remaining. After watching Eric Curran and Travis Walker - who led an ST race-high 45 laps - battle for the lead, Pobst drove to the inside as the trio drove down the main straightaway on Lap 91. Pobst outbraked both drivers, then pulled away slightly to give himself and Miller a second straight victory.
Pobst and Miller also took over the ST point lead, now by six points (89-83) over Kristian Skavnes and Andrew Aquilante, who finished sixth in the No. 111 SRRT Phoenix/Subaru of America Subaru Legacy.
Orange-suited drivers dominated the podium. Walker and co-driver Matt Pritiko finished second in the No. 76 Skunk2/034 Motorsport Honda Civic Si, while Curran and team owner Karl Thomson earned third in the No. 75 Skunk2/034 Motorsport Honda Civic Si. It was the team's first 1-2-3 finish and gave Honda Civic Sis a stranglehold on the top five, as Bret Spaude and David Thilenius finished fifth in Bill Fenton Motorsports' No. 27 Southern Auto Auction/Honda of Keene Honda Civic Si.
Finishing fourth in the ST race was the No. 146 Freedom Autosport Mazda Mazda MX-5, co-piloted by polesitter Andrew Carbonell and Daytona Prototype regular Guy Cosmo, who was added to the car Saturday morning.
Two cautions - both for stalled cars - slowed the race's pace to 83.131 mph, nearly 20 mph faster than last year's inaugural race at the 2.25-mile track.
The next KONI Challenge weekend is the Verizon Festival of Speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., with a two-and-a-half hour race Saturday, May 16.
NEWS & NOTES:
- The GS victory was the third career victory for Spencer Pumpelly and first for Duncan Ende. It was also the second victory of the season for Porsche.
- This is the first GS victory of the season for TRG, which last won in KONI Challenge last season at Iowa Speedway.
- Turner Motorsport scored its second podium finish of the season with its No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 and drivers Joey Hand and Chris Gleason.
- Motorsport Technology Group also earned its second podium finish of the season with its No. 18 Dietz 7 Watson Porsche 997 and drivers Billy Johnson and Peter Ludwig, who won at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
- Automatic Racing put two cars in the top six.
- BMWs put five cars in the top 10, while Ford earned three top 10s and Porsche two.
- Eleven GS cars finished on the lead lap.
- Nine drivers in nine cars led laps in the race: Matt Bell (28), Spencer Pumpelly (22), James Gue (22), Jack Roush Jr. (8), Charles Espenlaub (5), Joey Hand (3), Todd Lamb (2), Billy Johnson (2), Nic Jonsson (1).
- The ST victory was the sixth career victory for Randy Pobst and second for Christian Miller, who won their second straight race win together. It was also the Honda's second win of 2009, which earned four of the top five positions.
- This is the second victory of the season for Compass360 Racing, which now has eight career team victories in ST.
- This is the first time in the team's history that all three cars earned podium finishes. Only Freedom Autosport had multiple cars in the top 10.
- While Hondas dominated the top five, six different manufacturers finished in the top 10.
- Six ST cars finished on the lead lap.
- Five drivers in five cars led laps in the race: Travis Walker (45), Andrew Carbonell (35), Mike Halpin (6), Randy Pobst (3), Adam Burrows (3).
POST-RACE QUOTES (RACE WINNERS):
Duncan Ende (No. 39 DigiTrust Group/Adam's Polishes Porsche 997; co-winner in GS): "I had a really good stint. I was able to get a good start, even though I was on lined up on the outside. I was able to avoid any type of carnage in the first couple of corners. I was running second pretty comfortably the first 10 minutes or so. I then got boxed by some ST traffic coming on the straight-away and then I lost a few spots. I settled in after that and ran consistent laps. I was able to maintain a gap and gave it to Spencer who ran a great race to bring it home in first place."
Spencer Pumpelly (No. 39 DigiTrust Group/Adam's Polishes Porsche 997; co-winner in GS): "We originally thought that the 91 was going to have to pit for gas. Then Kevin (Buckler) came on the radio and said maybe they won't. I then had to get a little more aggressive, I was able to get a run on him and get by. TRG did an awesome job the last pit stop. It was super fast, we got on and off pit road the best we have all season. I think that was more than the four second gap than we won with, I really have to hand it to them. Duncan did a great first stint and they helped with those four seconds as well."
Randy Pobst (No. 74 Skunk2/034 Motorsport Honda Civic Si; co-winner in ST): "Was that wild? What a great camera opportunity for the Compass360 team. Karl Thompson must have been absolutely biting his nails. From the moment I got in the car - Christian gave me the Honda Civic in great condition - the Hoosier tires were still sticky and I drove as hard as I could every minute. I was seventh or eighth when we got in. Christian stopped a little bit later. I wanted a yellow, because Christian and I don't have our seat belts match, so our stops are little longer as a result, and I don't want to risk doing it under green. That worked out OK for us. I consider myself very lucky. I was just running my pace, and I didn't know Travis (Walker) tangled up with a GS car, which is a shame. He drove a good race. That helped me get to him and Eric Curran in the other Compass360 car. I had a little more tire. If this race had been 10 minutes shorter, I wouldn't have gotten it. But coming on the front straight, I think Eric Curran missed a shift, Travis had to lift a little to miss him, and that gave me a run at both of them."
Christian Miller (No. 74 Skunk2/034 Motorsport Honda Civic Si; co-winner in ST): "My thoughts at the start of the race was don't wreck the car on the first lap, because you can't win it that way. Being on the outside at the start is not the easiest thing, because there are three rights in a row, so I got shuffled back a couple of spots. Matt (Pritiko) who was behind me, gave me some space so I was able to race. I fell in line and the four of us checked out. My job was easy - keep the car clean, keep it out of the dirt, keep brakes and give it to Randy (Pobst). It was a matter of doing that for 45 minutes or an hour, whatever we did. The Compass 360 guys did a great job and I gave it to Randy."