O'Connell Racing Top Five at Watkins Glen Wins Suntrust Bank Improve Your Position Award O'Connell Racing (OConnellRacing.com http://oconnellracing.com/ ), a southern California based Grand-Am Rolex Series and NASCAR road racing team announced...
O'Connell Racing Top Five at Watkins Glen
Wins Suntrust Bank Improve Your Position Award
O'Connell Racing (OConnellRacing.com http://oconnellracing.com/ ), a southern California based Grand-Am Rolex Series and NASCAR road racing team announced today a 5th place finish and the top finishing Porsche in the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen held at the historic Watkins Glen International. Weather predictions called for heat above 90 degrees throughout the weekend with a 30% chance of thunderstorms. Rain clouds passed over the track at times and a slight breeze seemed to keep the teams curious, but the weather held steady as the weekend turned out to be close to perfect as you get in racing. Kevin Roush qualified the car 17th of 26 GT cars and ran the first stint of the race. Keeping the car in the top six during his stint, Roush noticed the car's MOTEC data system inaccurately displayed a reading of nine gallons of fuel remaining when the car unexpectedly slowed under full power indicating a fuel pick up problem or shortage. Roush immediately went to his reserve fuel option and ran another lap before bringing the car in for fuel and tires giving the team and O'Connell time to prepare. After the fuel reading problem, Roy Montgomery and Bill Kohlmeyer used an estimate of fuel mileage to factor into the team's pit strategy. Roush commented, "We had none of the problems reported with the tires blistering and could run our Pirelli's at a consistent pace throughout a 70 minute to 80 minute run, which coincided with all of the heat a driver could endure and remain cognizant in a 130 plus degree cockpit."
After Roush handed the car over to O'Connell it was evident that the extreme heat inside the car was a factor. For a moment team officials contemplated getting a third driver to rotate into the line-up but that idea was later nixed after it was determined that a sixty minute rest was enough recovery time for the drivers. O'Connell ran a solid stint with only a small incident with a Daytona Prototype on the exit of the bus stop chicane and maintained the car in the top eight. O'Connell stated, "The heat was a real issue. I had my hand out the window on the front straight trying to direct some air into the car but it really didn't help. We are going to have wear a cool suit or use a thermo-electric cooling system for these races."
There were approximately five pit stops during the race. Each stop was seamless and added significantly to the team's effort to remain in the top five with Toth and Bernabeo on the wheel guns, Caldwell and Norwood on fuel and Roy Montgomery managing the complex driver changes.
In the final stint of the race Roush managed the to work the car back into the top five with 5 laps to go while fighting nagging heat and fatigue held off the factory GM challenges of driver Andy Pilgrim. Roush commented, "The final twenty five minutes fighting to hold 5th with the GM factory backed #06 car was one of my toughest stints ever pushing 100% the entire time."
The team has set a respectable trend to date after finishing P-29 at Daytona, P-10 at Mexico City, P-6 at Laguna Seca and a team Rolex Series best P-5 at Watkins Glen. Kevin O'Connell commented, "Our improvement in our Rolex program is due to the integrity and dedication of the entire group which begins at the shop before we ever get the track. We want to capitalize on what we have learned here and continue run mistake free."
The team's next race will be at Infineon Raceway in the NASCAR Camping World West event on June 21, 2008 in preparation for another double duty effort of Rolex Series and NASCAR Nationwide at Montreal.