SpeedSource Lands Win and Two Top-Five Finishes as Season End Draws Near
SpeedSource Race Engineering headed to Mid Ohio Sports Car Course in late August for the Emco Gears Classic. The team arrived in Mid Ohio ready to stretch their current lead in the Team, Driver, and Manufacturer's point standings. Unfortunately, the race in Lexington did not go exactly go exactly as planned.
"The track was not well suited for our cars, with the long straight-aways the Cobalts, Acuras, and the BMW with more HP we knew that the balance of our cars would not be enough, but we did have some really great runs. There was a lot of traffic and contact, too," team owner and driver Sylvain Tremblay stated.
Tremblay and co-driver, David Haskell took 3rd at Mid Ohio's qualifying round. Then in a field of 31 cars Tremblay and Haskell took the # 70 car to a 5th place finish. Despite the large field the fifth place finish was a disappointment to Tremblay. In the seven Sport Touring races leading up to Mid Ohio, five ended with a # 70 SpeedSource celebration on the podium.
The team did fight hard with four other cars hitting the track through the race. The SpeedSource lineup included an exciting list of drivers ready to compete in the Sport Touring class. Marcello Abello and Charles Espenlaub finished out the race at Mid Ohio in 20th place. Scott Schlesinger had an excellent run in the SpeedSource # 68 car with co-driver Ken Dobson, until electrical problems sidelined their march to the front. John Bisignano and Rich Walker joined as co-drivers in the # 67 Mazda RX-8. The # 67 drivers held up very well at the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course and took 23rd place.
Jeff Altenburg and Jacques Guenette, Jr. finished at 16th place in the SpeedSource # 65 car. This was Guenette's first time on four wheels at the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course.
"Jacques has typically raced motorcycles at Mid Ohio but we were happy to see him do so well in our Mazda RX-8's," Tremblay commented about his teammate.
Upon leaving Mid Ohio Sports Car Course, SpeedSource prepped the cars for a track very different from what they had seen in Lexington. As the team left for Arizona and Phoenix International Raceway they had new issues to consider.
With the race being held late Friday afternoon, teams needed to make the most of their track time. This caused a significant issue for most Sport Touring teams at PIR, but the SpeedSource crew felt they had the upper hand.
The Mazdaspeed team was able to take into account their success of last season. SpeedSource took a win in April of 2004 at the Phoenix track. Tremblay applauded their record keeping and attributed it to their win.
"We had good notes and our team shined. All the practices went well and David took the pole which gave us the best starting position possible," added Tremblay.
After taking the pole, SpeedSource knew that the Acuras would give their Mazda RX-8's the biggest challenge during the Phoenix Twin 200 race. An Acura led until a full course yellow on the 27th lap. It was at that lap SpeedSource began to engage their attack. The SpeedSource crew saw this yellow as an opportunity and pitted. The exceptional ability of the team, its fast pit stops, and excellent strategy to pit early is what brought SpeedSource the checkered flag.
"With the yellow so early in the race we had to change the way we were driving. We adjusted well to the situation and to a race with few cautions," stated Tremblay.
Gaining the lead after the pit stop of the #29 Acura, Tremblay finished the race for the team. He held on as SpeedSource took their 5th victory and 6th podium of the season as other teams did not conserve fuel and had to pit with a few laps remaining.
SpeedSource finished with another top-five with the effort of Ken Dobson and Scott Schlesinger in the SpeedSource No. 60 car. The Phoenix race was the best finish for both Dobson and Schlesinger in the 2005 season.
Jon Bisignano and Jacques Guenette, Jr. came close to a top-ten finish but ended up in 12th place at Phoenix. This was Bisignano and Guenette's first race together and Tremblay commended the drivers on their success.
"Both drivers were new to this track but they did very well and just missed a top-ten. Jacques is getting more and more comfortable with each race and he should do very well at VIR," added Tremblay.
SpeedSource now begins preparation for their next and final race at Virginia International Raceway. The team still leads the Team, Driver, and Manufacturer's Standings in the Grand Am Cup Sport Touring class. The entire effort is set for another strong finish at VIR to close out the year.
"The entire team worked hard to put us in this position, which is the reason why we are here. Our goal for the final race of the season is to be smart and bring Mazda the championship," Tremblay concludes.
The Grand Am Cup race will take place at Virginia International Raceway on Saturday, October 8th at 1:50 pm EST. For additional race information log on to www.GrandAmerican.com.