Two Top Ten's for Mitchum Motorsports at Season Opener in Daytona
Daytona Beach, FL - The 2011 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season kicked off in Daytona today with the GRAND-AM 200. Mitchum Motorsports' Camaros charged from the back of the field to finish in the top ten. The #6.2 car driven by Joey Atterbury and Lawson Aschenbach finished 7th and the #6 car driven by Robert Stout and Jeff Bucknum finished 10th.
After a difficult qualifying session on Thursday, where both cars struggled to find speed, the team regrouped and made the best of the remaining practice sessions. Both cars were significantly faster in the final session before the race, proving the team had found the speed needed for the race.
Team principal Chris Mitchum noted that this event is the start of a season long championship and that a true championship caliber team must be able to recover from adversity and move on. "I am so proud of this team. We had a really rough day Thursday with both cars struggling in qualifying and to come back and finish top ten is awesome", said Mitchum. "Everyone stayed focused on their jobs and the results show it."
"We had the top two Camaros in the field today. Joey, Lawson, Jeff and Robert all drove extremely well, staying out of trouble and taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them", added Mitchum. "Joey started 21st and when he pitted for the driver change he was in 1st - that is a heck of a drive. The field reshuffled after the pit stops and Lawson worked his way from 14th up to 7th, picking up two spots on the last lap. Robert and Jeff were even further in the hole after having to start from pit lane - dead last in GS class. Both drivers kept their heads in the game and earned an extremely hard fought top ten."
Atterbury, who started the race in the #6.2 car did nothing but drive to the front. Starting 21st he moved into the top ten within just a few laps and by the time he pitted for the driver change he was leading the race. "Qualifying didn't show our speed but we were ready come race time. I was able to move up through the field and turn the car over to Lawson in a good position", said Atterbury. "With both cars finishing in the top ten, it's a great start to the 2011 season."
Co-driving the #6.2 was Aschenbach, who took over for Atterbury just past halfway through the 2.5 hour race. "Hats off to the team, everyone worked really hard all weekend especially after qualifying. The team worked through some minor teething issues early in the weekend and gave Joey and myself a great car for the race", said Aschenbach. "I want to thank Chris Mitchum and GM for putting this opportunity together for me and I am looking forward to a strong season with the team."
Robert Stout, who made his GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge debut in the GRAND-AM 200, had a strong race in the #6 car. Starting from pit lane wasn't in the original game plan but Stout made the best of a tough situation by moving up through the field and turning the car over to co-driver Jeff Bucknum in great shape. "I didn't get much time in the car during practice as we were sorting some things out so the 15 minute qualifier was my first full session in the car and at this track", added Stout. "At race time the car was great and I was able to get comfortable and move up a few spots. The crew worked really hard to get Jeff and I a solid car and it paid off with a top ten finish. I can tell already this car and team is going to make a strong run for the championship."
"Qualifying was tough for us but everyone on the team stuck with it and turned out a great car for the race", said Bucknum. "I am really impressed with the attitude and drive of the team. We went from a poorly handling car in qualifying due to some mechanical issues, to one that was as good as any Camaro I have ever driven. I am really looking forward to the rest of the season with the Mitchum Motorsport crew."
Mitchum Motorsports Camaros are sponsored by GM, Lucas Oil, E3 Spark Plus and Rock Star Energy Drinks. "Without the support of these outstanding brands these results wouldn't be possible", said Mitchum. "I want to thank our sponsors for trusting us to put together two competitive cars."
Mitchum Motorsports is not done racing this weekend. The #86 GT Porsche starts the 49th Rolex 24 at Daytona this afternoon at 3:30 PM EST.
-source: mitchum motorsports