Elkhart Lake, Wis. – After a history-making visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last month, Stevenson Motorsports was hoping for another strong outing as GRAND-AM returned to Road America for Round 8 of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge championship and Round 9 of the Rolex Series championship.
The first race of the day was the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge and the Road America 200.
Matt Bell and John Edwards were hoping to return to podium form, but a mechanical issue on the Stevenson Motorsports No. 9 Camaro GS.R early in the run cost the team several laps to the competition. After getting the issue sorted, Bell returned to the track looking to try to gain ground and possible points.
While the young Californian newlywed enjoyed the handling on the Camaro once it got back on track, the day had yet more frustration in store as the car lost drive in the final moments of the race.
"The first time the car came in we couldn't really see what it was because there was smoke and oil everywhere,” said team manager Mike Johnson. “But once they got it wiped down and with the way the car was going through the turn they figured it was a seal in the diff, so they replaced that seal.
We lost about two laps doing so and then lost two more waiting for the parts and everything. Then we got it fixed and the car was running really well. We were running lap times close to the front, but then we had to go into fuel-saving mode. Matt Bell was doing everything he could and we just couldn't save any fuel. So maybe there was something else going on with the motor."
The Rolex Series race saw Edwards teaming with Robin Liddell in the No. 57 Camaro GT.R for the final SPEED broadcast of the Rolex Sports Car Series as the conversion to FOX Sports 1 commences next weekend.
The duo faced an uphill battle after starting from the back of the pack following a ride height infraction in qualifying. But Edwards made the most of the start to move up to seventh on the opening lap and then up into top-five contention just a few laps later.
A lap 20 driver change saw Liddell slide into the seat and take back to the track from seventh in the order. The experienced Scotsman was able to move up to fifth as the race entered its final stages. But an issue at the rear of the car forced him into the pits for repairs. The team made quick work of the challenge—diagnosing and then fixing the problem quickly. But the track position was gone, and with the laps reeling off, the team had to accept an eighth place finish.
“It hasn't been a great day overall for Stevenson Motorsports,” offered Johnson. “We had a mechanical failure and an engine failure and we couldn't even save fuel very well. Nothing really worked out for us. The only saving grace is that as bad as this day was in both races, I don't think the points have changed that much. This is two in row, so we really have to bring our A-game to these last three races if we want to have a fighting chance to stay in the top three of the season ending points."