UPLAND, Calif. - About 12 years ago, Kevin Roush wrote down a list of the tracks he would like to get a chance to race on before ending his career as a driver. Last weekend, he crossed the final U.S. track off this list when he joined the ...
UPLAND, Calif. - About 12 years ago, Kevin Roush wrote down a list of the tracks he would like to get a chance to race on before ending his career as a driver.
Last weekend, he crossed the final U.S. track off this list when he joined the O'Connell Racing, Grand-Am Rolex sports car racing team at Watkins Glen, N.Y., for the Sahlen's 6-Hours at the Glen and led the Southern California based Porsche team to a fifth place finish in the GT class.
Roush, who prepares the Porsche 997 Gt3 Cup at his GAS Motorsport shop in Upland, drove four of the six hours despite heat above 92 degrees and humidity above 90 percent. His first stint almost proved disastrous because a leaking valve left him with an empty water bottle about halfway through, and his final stint left him physically spent but emotionally elated after taking the checkered flag fifth in a field of 26 GT cars.
Roush and Team Principle and co-driver Kevin O'Connell ran as high as second after Roush had qualified a disappointing 17th, which earned them the SunTrust "Improve Your Position" award, but it was in the final half- hour that Roush made his biggest impression by holding off the GM factory- backed Pontiac of Andy Pilgrim after a yellow flag had bunched up the field.
"I had to dig deep and push 100 percent the entire time and had several of my fastest race laps in a row trying to close the deal, and to my amazement, I did it," said Roush, who also is a private driving coach and chassis setup expert.
"His car was really fast down the straightaway and he didn't make any mistakes," Pilgrim said in praise of Roush. "He drove well."
Roush, took justifiable pride in being the top Porsche finisher out of 14 starters considering that the O'Connell Racing entry is a privateer single car effort which lacks the resources, testing, and development of those of the multi-car Teams.
In the last three races the team has finished 10th in Mexico City, sixth at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and now fifth at historic Watkins Glen.
"I have to thank each person on the team for their role in executing flawless pit stops ," Roush said. "The guys at the GAS Motorsport shop prepared the car in awesome fashion and it ran like a Rolex watch. We had none of the problems other teams reported with tires blistering and we could run our Pirellis at a consistent pace throughout an hour and 10- or hour and 20-minute run.
"Kevin O'Connell had an impressive race without ever putting a wheel wrong and held or bettered position throughout his stints. We executed within our potential for our best-ever Rolex finish in my first time at the Glen, which is really gratifying."
In six starts with O'Connell Racing Roush has one top five and five top 10s, including the 2006 Rolex 24.
"I'm very grateful for the chance to join the Rolex Series and race with some of the best sports car drivers in the world," Roush said. " Thanks to Kevin O'Connell and John Brown at Wheel Enhancement for their support. We made the most of what we had out there and at the end of the day all we can measure ourselves against is that."