The Racers Group (TRG)
TRG Has "Only If" Day at Homestead
Petaluma, CA (April 30, 2012) - As TRG discovered this past weekend at Homestead, making all the right calls and having the two best GT cars on the track sometimes isn't enough. TRG had a real chance to win but was tripped by the crazy weather and the even more bizarre decision by Grand-Am officials to end the race before its allocated 2:45 time. More laps were completed under the yellow flag than under green, authenticating the foul weather, but the rain eventually subsided late in the afternoon which could have allowed to race to continue, but officials had already made the call.
Brilliant first stints by both of the opening drivers, kept the cars in contention from the beginning. Strong driving by TRG drivers Steve Bertheau and Spencer Pumpelly in the No. 67 Sargent & Lundy Porsche 911 GT3 Cup saw them storm through traffic, mirrored by Emilio Di Guida and Jeroen Bleekemolen in the No. 68 Grupo SK18, ADE Cargo, Solar Cargo, Venezuela, Avior Air Lines 911. Picking off cars with ease, the TRG team cars seemed to get even better as conditions worsened. With each passing lap, as others spun off course, the team cars remained glued to the road.
About halfway through the race, Pumpelly had worked the No. 67 in second position and Bleekemolen was in third. When the next (and soon-to-be-last) caution came out, Buckler called the cars in for fuel and tires, ready to pounce when the green flag waved. But it never did, and the two cars settled into fourth and eight places respectively.
"The call by the officials to end the race early was one of the most bizarre, frustrating and unfortunate things we have seen", stated team owner, Kevin Buckler. "Yes, the conditions were difficult, but really no more difficult than we had been racing in all day. When the rain got too heavy, the tower would go full course yellow, and we would circulate around until it was raceable again. All that was fine but to actually END the race early is absolutely ridiculous. That is what we have a Red Flag for!!"
Driver Spencer Pumpelly echoed his team owner's sentiments: "With that much rain, I can understand why the race would be red flagged but never actually ended early. Why!?," said the veteran sports car driver. "It's a shame because the car was amazing! The crew absolutely nailed the set-up. We had the fastest car on the track. If the race had gone the distance, we really had a shot at winning."
"We spent nearly six days in Florida for this race with our two cars and entire crew and drivers," continued Buckler. "There were thousands of fans that braved the weather and wanted to see a race. Twenty minutes after they ended the race and while we were still within the original race time, the rain eased up and the sun even came out. We have two cars that were capable of winning and would have had an incredible race at the end. Steve and Emilio were awesome in their opening stint and Spencer and Jeroen were on fire. What a shame...."
"I can't believe how perfect the car was for these conditions," raved Bleekemolen. "We were able to keep charging forward when everyone else seemed to be spinning off into the grass. We had a winning car if we had been able to continue the race. Great job by Kevin and the guys on the setup and the team was awesome all week."