Jeff Segal Gets Season Back On Track With Second-Place Finish in the Grand Prix of Miami With Emil Assentato in the No. 69 FXDD/SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 GT
HOMESTEAD, Florida (March 5, 2011) – Shaking off a tough result in January’s season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona on an even tougher Homestead-Miami Speedway road course, Jeff Segal and teammate Emil Assentato scored a second-place finish they needed Saturday in the No. 69 FXDD/SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 GT at the Grand Prix of Miami.
Segal took over the No. 69 Mazda from starting driver Assentato just past the race’s 30 minute mark and steadily drove into lead contention over the remaining two hours. He moved to third with less than an hour to go and took second by the time the checkered flag flew to join Assentato in Homestead-Miami’s victory lane for the second consecutive year. The duo won last year’s Grand Prix of Miami and the 2010 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT Championship.
“We were shooting for a top five, maybe a top 10, just trying to execute well and do the most with what we had,” Segal said. “The beginning of the race was a bit frustrating, just hanging behind people, but one by one they were falling off at the end. I just drove as hard as I could for the last stint and the team kept telling me that we had a little bit of a gap back to the Porsche behind us. We were working hard but it worked out well so I am just really happy for the team, Emil and for Mazda for really trying to get the effort back on track for the rest of the year.”
Typically strong pit and race strategy by the No. 69 FXDD team also played a key role in the podium result.
“As usual, we had phenomenal strategy,” Segal said. “That’s one of the ways you can make up time when you don’t have the best car is to just be a little bit smarter with when you pit and how you pit. We did some tricky strategy, we replaced just three tires on the car and got out pretty quickly. That was a great call by the team and something we discussed before the race maybe doing. I was a little bit nervous about it thinking I would be a sitting duck, but we did it all last year and it worked this year too.”
While the Miami result was encouraging, Segal and the No. 69 team have plenty of work to do before the next race at Barber Motorsports Park in early April. Segal and Assentato are the defending winners of the Barber race.
“I would say our car was far from right,” Segal said. “Definitely, internally we have got a long way to go before our car is as good as it can be. First and foremost, GRAND-AM is taking some steps to bring the Mazda back into play, which is great and really encouraging to see. Whether or not we’re there yet, I think that remains to be seen, and we will see as we get to some of the other tracks, but this one is the odd ball, this is the tough one and I am happy to get out of here as good as we did. Now we will go back to the drawing board and find a setup that works for the rest of the tracks and all of the normal road courses.”
The second-place finish also put Segal, Assentato and the No. 69 back in the top 10 of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT Championship standings. An early retirement in the Rolex 24 resulted in a lowly 27th-place result and the few points that go with it, but the 32 points earned for a second-place race finish were just what Segal and his team needed. They rank 10th in the GT standings with 36 points, just 22 markers behind the class leaders.
The Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park takes place April 7 – 9 and will air on SPEED on Sunday, April 10, at Noon ET/9 a.m. PT.
-source: jeff segal PR