Tooele, UT-- (2 March 2010) -- The countdown is on as the 2010 Ford Racing Mustang Challenge season is set to take the green flag this Saturday when the championship launches with a double-header race weekend at Homestead Miami Speedway as part of...
Tooele, UT-- (2 March 2010) -- The countdown is on as the 2010 Ford Racing Mustang Challenge season is set to take the green flag this Saturday when the championship launches with a double-header race weekend at Homestead Miami Speedway as part of the GRAND-AM Grand Prix of Miami event.
Utilizing the Ford Mustang FR500S, the first-ever Ford production-line built race car, Mustang Challenge is sanctioned by GRAND-AM and is a support series to major professional road racing events across North America. 2010 is the third season of competition for Mustang Challenge, and the Homestead visit marks the second consecutive season for the series to open the year at the track.
But in a new twist, this weekend will feature a whole new experience for the drivers as they take their Ford Mustang FR500S machines on the full 2.3-mile circuit, utilizing the oval section's variable-rate high banked final corners for the first time in series history.
The 2010 season will see the Mustang Challenge schedule grow once again, as it will now comprise 11 races, with drivers allowed to select their 10 best finishes of the year toward the championship. Three double header events (Homestead, New Jersey Motorsports Park, Miller Motorsports Park) will keep the racers busy as the series also visits some iconic new tracks including Watkins Glen International and Virginia International Raceway.
"Starting our race season at Homestead is a perfect way for us to kick off the year," said Mustang Challenge Series Director Lynda Randall. "Our drivers are very excited about the chance to run on the banking this year, and having a double-header race weekend makes this a big start to the championship. We've got some new drivers joining us and that always adds to the anticipation for a new season, and we just can not wait to get everything started this weekend."
The two drivers who took Mustang Challenge race wins at Homestead in 2009--Ted Anthony Jr., and series Champion Andrew Caddell, have moved in the GRAND-AM family and are not expected to be racing in the Mustang Challenge event this weekend, giving a clear path for two new drivers to possibly make their names with wins at the South Florida facility.
Every racer on the starting grid this weekend will be looking to get the championship off to a fast start with two strong results at Homestead. The south Florida event weekend will see the series welcoming several new drivers to the championship, including include Richard Golinello, Chip Scarlett, and Robert Bengoa.
Golinello has exchanged his Ferrari Challenge machine for the fun of racing in the Mustang Challenge as the New Jersey resident is fully committed to his racing endeavors.
"I never do things halfway," says Golinello, who calls his team "R&C Racing" after his sons Richard and Christian. "I made up my mind to clear my schedule and do the whole series!"
Bengoea will team with Rehagan Racing. The Puerto Rico resident scored two top-tens in Continental Tire Challenge competition driving a Ford Mustang for the team in 2009 and will look to put that Mustang experience to good use at Homestead.
The third racer slated to make his Mustang Challenge debut at Homestead, Scarlett will be carrying the colors of www.racingtosavesharks.com for SpeedWorks R&D as he works to raise awareness for Shark Savers as part of his racing campaign. Scarlett is a physician, scientist, and entrepreneur who is one of several graduates of the Ford Racing Performance Training Center at Miller Motorsports Park participating in Mustang Challenge competition.
While the new drivers look to make a strong first impression this weekend, there are many returning drivers and teams sporting that same ambition.
Capaldi Racing has signed two drivers with Mustang Challenge experience for the 2010 season as two-time Mustang Challenge race winner Tony Buffomante joins the team alongside Isle of Palms, South Carolina's Steve Phillips.
"At times we've struggled on race weekends not having any other drivers or engineers to trade ideas with and compare data", Buffomante said. "Having the opportunity to do that, in addition to tapping into Capaldi's experience with Fords and the series, gives me a very positive outlook on 2010. We've already proved that we can win races, now it's time to take that to the next level for a season-long run at the championship."
"I am extremely excited about our prospects for the 2010 Mustang Challenge Season with Capaldi Racing," said Phillips, who began driving in 2007 after completing the 3-day Ford Racing High Performance Driving School at Miller Motorsports Park. "The team's knowledge of this race car (FR500S) and the talent that they bring to the track for support is of the highest caliber in our series. And having Tony on board this year makes it even better."
One of the very first racers to commit to the Mustang Challenge concept, former drag racer George Winkler, will be back in action at Homestead. Winkler, who has previously captured honors for his dedication and sportsmanship to the series, will look to continue his escalation in speed. Winkler has made good use of his FR500S, racing in multiple categories with the machine, and will surely relish the opportunity to get back to racing again this weekend.
Two drivers who broke through to the podium ranks in 2009 should be key to keep an eye on as Dan Aweida and Jason von Kluge will also be back in action at Homestead and bring speed and experience to the starting grid. Georgia's Zach Lutz will have a busy weekend, as he will not only be running the two rounds of Mustang Challenge competition, but he will also be racing in the Continental Tire event on Saturday afternoon as well.
When the talk turns to veterans, it is impossible not to mention Utah's Pratt Cole, who was on the very first Mustang Challenge podium in 2008, and will once again look for the top step in his Western Metals Transport machine for RP Motorsports, with teammate Brad Adams also returning to Mustang Challenge competition.
Adams, who hails form New Orleans, considers every time he straps into the Ford Mustang FR500S a chance for a new racing highlight, and his consistent improvement and competitiveness demonstrate that race after race.
The Grand Prix of Miami will kick off with a promoter test day on Thursday ahead of the official start to the 2010 season.