No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro moves another step closer to a win
Team is in the pink about second place finish at New Jersey Motorsports Park
At this past weekend’s Grand-Am Rolex Series race at New Jersey Motorsports Park, and wearing pink numbers and stripes in support of the Susan G. Komen For The Cure organization, the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, driven by Robin Liddell and John Edwards, crossed the finish line with a very welcome second place finish.
After starting from the pole and leading the GT field for most of the race, a late restart after a caution period saw the No. 42 Sahlen’s Mazda make a daring pass on the outside which allowed him to tuck in front of Liddell as the traffic-filled field headed into the first turn. Unable to immediately get back around the Mazda, Liddell charged hard until the closing laps when the Mazda driver went wide in a turn giving way to the Camaro. Earlier, in traffic, a Ferrari had managed to wend its way past both cars and he would eventually go on to take the win with Liddell coming up fast behind him.
Team Manager Mike Johnson was very pleased with the team’s second consecutive podium finish.
“Today was another great performance all around by the Stevenson Motorsports Team.” Johnson said. “It was great having John back as he put the No. 57 on the pole by .535 seconds, and having the pink accents on the car for Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was a nice touch.”
Johnson starts the tale of the race: “John got beat into turn 1, by the No. 70 Mazda, but it was all working to plan as we ran through the first round of pit stops without a yellow flag. We then took the lead when the Mazda pitted. Robin then got into the car and we ran in second until the Mazda pitted again and re-took the lead. At that that point we were very short on fuel. We got a yellow just when we needed it and as the cars cycled through, we moved into first with about 40 minutes to go.
“Robin had a great restart, Johnson continues, “and quickly jumped to a four second lead, but then we went right back to yellow for debris. This time the No. 44 Porsche was on Robin's bumper at the restart as Robin tried not to run into the back of a slow DP. This allowed the No. 42 Mazda to get around our car on the inside, and take the lead going into the first turn. A few laps later the No. 69 Ferrari caught us and we knew they were going to be too quick as they drove by us as well.
“Robin kept the pressure on the No. 42 until he made a mistake and we finished 2nd. While it was not the win we were looking for, it was our second consecutive good result.”
John Edwards has to miss two races to recuperate from injuries he received in a skiing accident. He came back strong at this race, taking the GT pole position in qualifying.
Johnson: "I think John Edwards had something to prove to the team and to everyone in Grand-Am that his knee was healing fine as he put the No. 57 Camaro GT.R on pole by .535 and set a new track record by almost 3 seconds.
Edwards: “After missing two races due to my knee injury, it felt very satisfying to grab pole and a podium finish in the GT.R Camaro. However, it was a very hard-fought race as New Jersey has historically been a difficult track for the Camaro. We still found ourselves struggling with tire life relative to the Ferrari and the Mazdas, but not as much as the past two years thanks to the temperatures being 25-30 degrees cooler at this time of year. This gave us a chance throughout the race, although the Ferrari seemed to be untouchable.”
Robin Liddell too commented on the reduced heat at New Jersey and how that may have played a role in negating some of the tire disadvantage the Camaro has over other competitors,
Liddell: “"Obviously we had another successful weekend finishing on the podium with our Stevenson Chevy Camaro. The temperatures in New Jersey were not as high as we have seen them in the past (in mid-summer) of course, but it still became a race where tire conservation and error free driving paid dividends.
“I have to say that John certainly returned to the team in style,” Liddell continued, “taking the pole and doing a great job in the opening stint to stay in touch with the lead Mazda. We felt from looking at the results in practice that we probably didn't have the outright pace to win the race and ultimately although we were out in front in the last thirty minutes this was to prove correct. The race winning Ferrari was simply too fast and was able to get around us and the Mazda quite easily for the lead.
Liddell once again complemented the crew on their solid contributions to this successful weekend of racing. “From dropping to third spot after the last restart I managed to keep pressure on the No. 42 Mazda and I eventually slipped past into second with a couple of laps remaining, when he ran wide in a corner. It was a tough race and we struggled throughout with rear grip but ultimately we held on to give the team another well deserved podium. The car performed flawlessly and the efforts of all the guys in the pits once again ensured that we were always at the sharp end."
Edwards feels the team finally got a bit of luck to ride along with them all the way to the waving checkered flag.
“Considering we were expecting our two worst races on the schedule to be Homestead and New Jersey,” Edwards commented, “it is great for the team to come away with a couple of podiums as we head into tracks that should suit the Camaro better.”
Johnson: “The team has continued its excellent run this year with perfect reliability and completed laps. We have great momentum right now and we need to keep it going at this level through the next month as we will have four races over five straight weekends.
“I think the cars were all pretty evenly balanced today on the new Continental Tire,” Johnson continued, “but the Ferrari with its lighter weight and bigger tire is in a different league. The No. 70 Mazda would have also had us covered today if they didn't lose a lap in the pits. I think it's great the Ferrari has won a few races, but now it's time for Grand-Am to try to get the balance back to where it needs to be so all the teams have a fair shot to win."