Leading Pole to Checkers, von Kluge Takes Fourth Ford Racing Mustang Challenge Win LEXINGTON, Ohio, 20 June - Jason von Kluge of Ann Arbor, Mich., won his fourth Ford Mustang Challenge race of the season after leading every lap from the pole at...
Leading Pole to Checkers, von Kluge Takes Fourth Ford Racing Mustang Challenge Win
LEXINGTON, Ohio, 20 June - Jason von Kluge of Ann Arbor, Mich., won his fourth Ford Mustang Challenge race of the season after leading every lap from the pole at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Sunday. That, however, does not imply that it was an easy win. In fact, far from it. Just one small slip, one brief lapse in concentration, and the No 34 Capaldi Racing Mustang of Tony Buffomante would have passed for the lead.
"Tony was right there the whole time, he never cut me a break," said von Kluge. "I made a mistake early on in and power slid through the Keyhole and I was really worried about that. I just managed to hold him back. He pushed me right to the end. I couldn't be happier to be up here, it feels great. You can't think about the championship when you are in the car, but I guess it's always in your mind and you know you have to bring it home and not throw it off the track. I just knew I needed to finish ahead of Mr. Buffomante, and he ran a great race again today, but I'm very happy to be up here right now!"
Not once during the 45-minute race that took 28 trips around the 2.25-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, were there mirrors in von Kluge JVK Motorsports Mustang with backing from Green Filter USA, Steeda and Varsity Ford, without Buffomante looming large. Lap after lap, the less than two seconds of daylight shone between the two cars who sped away from the rest of the field at the start.
"In the middle I just backed up a little bit to see if I could get a run on him and get by and save the tires a little bit, but I had nothing for him," said Buffomante. "Out of the Keyhole, he was killing me. We just have to get the car better out of the short stuff. Classic Mid-Ohio. You catch them up in the back of the track and then get out of the Keyhole and it's over again, so that was a frustrating race. Congratulations to those guys, they did a great job. It takes a lot of character to come back like they did after we rattled off a couple (wins) in a row, so congrats to them. Thanks to the Capaldi Racing guys again, it's going to be a good fight all the way to the end."
Ben Crosland, starting from third, stayed with the leaders in the early going before settling into a comfortable, but lonely third place. In the final laps, Crosland's Interbank FX-backed No.25 RP Motorsports Mustang kept gaining pace as the laps clicked off, but was unable to mount any serious challenge at the finish as he scored a strong podium result.
"It was a really good run--the car came to me at the end of the race," said Crosland. "I was catching them every lap and just getting closer. They were so good under braking though so it was hard for me to make back that ground I lost earlier in the race. I wish there had been ten more laps! I did my best. I'm really happy to be on the podium, it was a fun race. I was saving some for the end, especially the brakes. RP Motorsport put a terrific car together so I'm very pleased with this weekend."
Crosland led home his RP Motorsports stablemate, Pratt Cole who claimed fourth in the No. 88 Western Metals Mustang. Cole, starting from sixth, got an immediate jump on the No. 22 Mustang of Steve Phillps for fifth place and then just at the race's halfway point made the pass around Craig Capaldi in the Keyhole. Soon after, Cole opened a gap to Caplaldi, but Crosland, by that point, was too far ahead.
Capaldi made an auspicious Mustang Challenge debut, being in the thick of the action for much of the race and doing more than enough to fulfill his pre-race ambition of finishing in the top 10. After holding off wily veteran Cole, he had to deal with another crafty and speedy veteran in Dan Aweida. A lap after surrendering fourth place to Cole, Awieda made the most of his run out of the Carousel through turn 1 to make the pass on Capaldi entering the braking zone for the Keyhole. Capaldi held on to bring his No. 68 CapaldiRacing.com Mustang home in sixth place.
"Real fortunate--It was more luck than skill!" offered Capaldi. "I ran out of talent a few times today. But, my biggest thing was to get a good finish. I wanted to get a top ten to come out of this race in sixth is great. It's a great fathers day gift for my dad. I want to thank Tony Buffomante for driver coaching and the help all weekend. If it wasn't for him I wouldn't be here. This is my one race of the season and there were some guys running in the championship and I didn't want to mess up their races. But, I wasn't going to just give it to them!"
As a result of being the top rookie, Capaldi earned the Sunday Group Management Rookie of the Race Award that will make a donation to the Austin Hatcher Foundation in his name.
Aweida set off in pursuit of Cole but was unable to make a big enough dent in the advantage to have any impact on the order, which remained von Kluge ahead of Buffomante, Crosland, Cole, Aweida and Capaldi for the final ten laps. For advancing the most positions from his starting spot during the race, from eighth to fifth places, Aweida earned two free tires courtesy of the BF Goodrich "Take Control" Award for the second race running.
Rounding out the top 10 were Keith Carroll in a stout debut race, Sloan Urry making a significant charge through the field, and then the double-duty duo of Brad Adams and Steve Phillips, who shared a GRAND-AM Sports Car Challenge entry on Saturday. This gang of four enjoyed a spirited day of racing, generally running nose-to-tail for much of the race.
Richard Golinello finished in 11th place after starting from 15th place. For the third race on the trot, Golinello passed the most cars on the opening lap and as such he adds another GREENFiltersusa.com Fast First Award to his racing resume.
Thanks to all of the corner workers, safety crew and volunteers at Mid-Ohio who helped make it a great weekend of racing.
Next up for the Ford Mustang Challenge is the second double-header weekend of the year at the New Jersey Motorsports Park on July 17-18. Follow all the action and get updates on results and points at mustangchallenge.com.