VIR: TRG race report

TRG's Pumpelly and George finish second in Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR ALTON, Va. - Spencer Pumpelly and Tim George led TRG's four-car effort with a second place finish in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Bosch Engineering 250 at...

TRG's Pumpelly and George finish second in Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR

ALTON, Va. - Spencer Pumpelly and Tim George led TRG's four-car effort with a second place finish in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway.AJR Homestead

George started 13th in the No. 67 Tampico Porsche GT3 Cup. But, before handing the No. 67 machine over to his teammate Pumpelly, George had to deal with some brake issues that made the car difficult to drive. But, George persevered and turned the car over to Pumpelly under yellow on lap 31. Pumpelly put on an impressive drive for the remainder of the race and gave the duo its third podium finish of the season.

"We had some brake issues to deal with," George said of his 31-lap stint in the car. "The car had a slight diagonal pull under braking. So, I had to nurse a hurt horse around. Other than that, I thought I got off the corners well. The balance was really good so I was able to pass some people by carrying some extra momentum through the Esses. I feel like I had a good stint and I turned it over to Spencer."

"It looked easy, but boy was that a tough race," Pumpelly said. "There was an issue with the right front caliper. Tim did a brilliant job in the car. We didn't even know there was a problem with the car he was going so fast. We weren't really optimistic when I got in because the car was impossible to drive and we fell back. We did the pit stop. The guys changed the caliper and next thing you know we were back in it. I am really happy with TRG and the way they performed today. It was an excellent job by the guys."

Unlike the other TRG drivers, co-drivers Jim Lowe and Jim Pace tried a different pit stop strategy than the rest of the team. Lowe started from the 10th row in the No. 64 SRS/Globus/Adopt A Pig Porsche GT3 Cup and decided not to stop when most of the GT field did on lap 31under yellow. Instead, Lowe stayed out and took a gamble on gaining valuable track position in the hopes he would get another strategically timed caution. Unfortunately, the strategy did not go as planned. Pace had to make a green flag pit stop on lap 49 and then handed the car over to Pace. The tandem would go on to finish 13th.

"It was exciting from the beginning," Lowe said. "There was a lot of slicing and dicing up front for a long time. Every time you would get a run on somebody and try to get a gap, the yellow [flag] would get you. I think we had two yellows and then we had to pit under green. And, of course, there was a yellow a few laps later. We were a little bit out of luck. But, the car was great except when the tires went away and then it was a handful. Overall, it was hot and sweaty fun. It was a good time - just what we came here for."

"We took a big chance on one of the pit stops and decided not to stop," Pace said. "We kind of threw a hail Mary pass just to see how things would work out. If you do what everyone else does, you'll stay right where everyone else is. We took chance on that pit stop by leaving Jim [Lowe] out and we had good track position for a while. Then, we needed a caution, but it came out right after our stop.

"I had fun, which is always important. The crew did a great job. Jim's [Lowe's] car ran great. We wished we could have had a little bit more test time before the race. But, everybody does. The traffic was a lot [to handle]. There was little bumping and shoving out there. I got bumped and I got shoved. And, I probably bumped and shoved a little bit. All-in-all it was a good day."

Starting from row eight, Ted Ballou's race got off to a rocky start as his No. 66 Mitchell Rubber/Marquis Jet/Elf Oils/IPC Porsche GT3 Cup was hit in the right rear just few laps into the 77-lap race. Undaunted by the contact, Ballou put his head down and pushed the car hard before putting teammate Bryce Miller in the car on lap 31.

With a damaged race car and a lap down, Miller had to approach the race a little differently knowing the car was not going to be as competitive as he would have liked. However, Miller did everything he could to bring the car home 19th.

"We had a pretty good run going," Ballou said. "Somebody hit us a few laps into the race. I don't know what he was thinking. I think he must have locked up his brakes and hit us. But, overall the car was getting a better and we were running more consistent. Overall, it was not too bad."

"We ended up approaching the race like a test session," Miller said. "We've been struggling a lot with the car. It just hasn't been right since Daytona. So, we're going to do some shock development between here and Laguna and try to advance the car a little more. In the race, I think we made a lot of improvements. Hopefully, with the three week lay-off, we can develop the car and head to Laguna with a good package."

Piloting the No. 68 CGR/Maxter/Rotax/MBA Group/F1 Air Porsche GT3 Cup, RJ Valentine started from row 11 and during his stint he had to deal with some car contact that put him off track a couple times. However, Valentine managed to pick up at least one spot before making his yellow flag pit stop. At this point, teammate Bryan Sellers got in the car. Throughout his stint, he continued to deal with car issues that led to finishing four laps down in 21st.

"It was going well until the guy in the [No.] 88 pushed me off up by Oak Tree," Valentine said of his time in the car. "I went off there and then a DP car did same thing. Maybe I should protect my line a little bit better. But, you know what, there was no major damage."

"It was a rough stint," Sellers said. "It was up-and-down. Early on, we got hit and that pretty much ended our race at that point in time. From there, we decided that we were going to play a fuel strategy game. That did not work because we ended up short on fuel anyway. Unfortunately, it was just a rough race all around. It was nobody's fault. It was just sort of the way the cards fell."

"Spencer and Tim did a great job today," team owner Kevin Buckler said. "We had a little problem with the brake caliper. The crew got it fixed under a yellow flag, which allowed Spencer to take the car and put it where he needed to. Tim did a great job again with sort of a wounded car. He's been driving really heads up. I am really impressed with him.

"Ted and Bryce both drove really well. The car was a little bit of handful for them. I am looking forward to getting back to the shop and really tearing these cars a part.

"RJ and Bryan drove well. RJ was a rock. He did a good job with the car and then turned it over to Bryan. Bryan got hit by a back marker Porsche.

"Jim Lowe and Jim Pace also drove a real steady race. Jim Lowe did a good long stint and a half in the car, which I love to see. He is not afraid to be out there mixing it up with the big boys. Jim Pace drove real well, real smart in a pretty tough race.

"All-in-all what started as a tough weekend, turned into a really good event for us. I think we could have won this thing, but we had a little bit of an electrical gremlin at the end and decided to take our second place finish. We are still in the big championship hunt."

-credit: trg

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Kevin Buckler , Spencer Pumpelly , Jim Pace , Bryan Sellers , Jim Lowe , Ted Ballou , Bryce Miller