After qualifying both Stevenson Motorsports Sunoco Camaros in the top 10, on track contact has No. 6 car finishing 6th and No. 9 being knocked out early to finish in 24th.
The Stevenson Motorsports Sunoco-Camaro GS.R team had hoped to finally break through and run at the front at the Garden State 250 at New Jersey Motorsports Park this past weekend - the eighth round of the 2010 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series. In the end, an ill-timed return to the racing surface by another car forced one Camaro out with just half the race completed. The second Camaro also found the racing line a bit crowded and a BMW used this race as a physics proving ground bumping the Stevenson car out of a possible podium finish.
The No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports Sunoco-Camaro GS.R, driven by Matt Bell and Jeff Bucknum, finished in sixth place. Their sister car, the No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Sunoco-Camaro GS.R, driven by Hugh Plumb (almost) and Al Carter, finished in 24th place
Team Manager Mike Johnson: "So far, this weekend has probably been one of the most challenging for our team. We have had to deal with crashes on the No. 6 Continental car and the No. 97 Rolex Series car this weekend. We are also working with the hottest temperatures we have seen all year. I could not be more proud of the team with how they have persevered and kept a positive attitude while working almost non-stop while dripping with sweat from the high humidity.
"Saying that, all of our cars have been fast and we started the GS race in 7th and 9th. Matt Bell was also driving a DP in the Rolex race this weekend, so we had Jeff go for the pole and start the race. The race started out great as both cars were running up front with Jeff running as high as third and Al staying in the top 10. We got a timely yellow and decided to put Matt in the car and we left Al in the No. 9 for a second stint. He had a lot of his friends and family here for the race. They made the short drive from the Philadelphia area and we wanted to them to get to see Al in action as much as possible. Unfortunately, the next yellow was ours as a damaged ST car decided to come back on track and pull right in front of Al taking the No. 9 out of the race before Hugh ever got in."
Veteran and accomplished racer Hugh Plumb has been helping Al Carter to develop his skills through an ongoing coaching and mentoring partnership. Plumb regretted not getting some seat time at this race, but he was actually pleased that Carter's progress this season, and his performance in this race up until being taken out by an errant driver, show he is moving ever closer to a top notch performance level.
Plumb: "As Mike said, we wanted to get Al as much track time as possible. Al qualified the car ninth on the grid and he worked his way up to sixth before the accident. After a stop for fuel and tires he went back out in around 12th position and was beginning to move back up through the field when he was hit.
Plumb continued his recounting of the incident when he said, "The corner Marshall had given the ST driver the signal he could get back on track but he took so long to do it, and moved over so far when he did, that he ran into the side of Al's car. This was a fast, increasing radius corner and Al was in high gear moving at a great rate of speed. He naturally figured the guy would stay to one side but he didn't and the end result is we were knocked out of the race. The suspension was broken and a tire went down, not to mention the body damage. Thankfully Al was OK but this didn't have to happen. It was a stupid mistake. I'm convinced Al and I could have taken this car to a top five finish."
Johnson: "When the accident occurred Grand-Am waved the yellow flag and so we took the opportunity to pit the No. 6 for tires and fuel, and Matt jumped up from 13th to 3rd on the stop. We had spent most of the break between sessions working on pit stops and fueling and it really paid off in the race. Despite that positive effort, Matt got bumped off track by a BMW and he fell back to 8th. With a hard driving effort he was able to salvage 6th place finish. This was certainly not our best result, but it wasn't a bad one either, at least for the No. 6 car. I think with all the progress we have made over the last few races that if we can keep our noses clean, we finally have all the pieces to win our first race."
Bucknum too looked back on the hot weekend with some anticipation of better days to come.
"It was a solid race weekend for the No. 6 Sunoco Camaro." He said. "We switched things up this weekend between Matt and me. I qualified and started the race and Matt finished the race this weekend. I didn't get a clear lap in qualifying, so I ended up in 7th starting position. Even though I didn't get a great qualifying lap, I knew the car would be good in the race. Greg Jones, Grant Ford and Adrian Lindsey did a great job putting an excellent race car on the race track for me and Matt to race.
"At the start I was able to move from 7th to 4th on the first lap. I moved up to 3rd a little while later during my stint in the car before I handed it off to Matt. Probably the biggest problem in the race was how hot it was outside and on the track. The team gave us a great cool suit to wear in the car which kept us cool enough to not over heat. The track was so hot that the tires felt good for only a few laps, and then the car would start sliding all over the place. The only good news about that is all the cars on the track were having the same problem sliding around.
"Matt did a great job finishing the car for us in the race. He held 3rd place for most of the race even though he had heavy pressure from Joey Hand. Eventually Matt was pushed off the track but fortunately he was able to salvage a very solid 6th place finish for us."
The next race on the 2010 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series schedule will be August 13 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
-source: stevenson motorsports