CATES SCORES POLE FOR 2ND NJMP RACE ON SERIES DEBUT AS GIMPLE COMPLETES ALL-ROOKIE FRONT ROW MILLVILLE, NJ, 18 July - It won't be the usual suspects for the second Ford Racing Mustang Challenge race of the weekend at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
CATES SCORES POLE FOR 2ND NJMP RACE ON SERIES DEBUT AS GIMPLE COMPLETES ALL-ROOKIE FRONT ROW
MILLVILLE, NJ, 18 July - It won't be the usual suspects for the second Ford Racing Mustang Challenge race of the weekend at New Jersey Motorsports Park. On his debut race weekend, Deven Cates laid down a scorching lap to match the scorching temperatures, securing his first pole in Mustang Challenge competition. On his first flying lap, he put in a lap of 1:32.530 seconds, easily the fastest lap of the entire weekend. Lining up alongside is rookie Kyle Gimple who fell a tenth of a second shy of claiming the pole for himself as both drivers vie for not just Sunday Group Mangement "Rookie of the Race" honors to benefit the Austin Hatcher Foundation, but also the overall win to close out an exciting double-header race weekend.
Newly minted championship leader, and the first of the usual suspects, Tony Buffomante will start from third on the grid. Race 1 polesitter Dan Aweida completes row two in fourth position.
"I'm getting a more used to the car," said Cates who has experience in other production-based series and now drives the No. 68 Mustang for Capaldi Racing, "and I managed to pull out a good first lap. Now, if I can focus on pulling ahead a bit in the opening laps, maybe I can convert this to a win. This may be our last race of the season, but a good finish could change that."
A Capaldi Racing Mustang FR500S on the pole is no surprise, except for when it's not driven by Buffomante. Cates was indeed recruited to the team by Buffomante and the two drivers shared data and car set-up throughout the weekend, to good effect.
"I'm really proud of and happy for Devin. I've raced with his dad and been following Devin's performances in other series and suggested they come over here and give the Mustang Challenge a try when one of his other drives ended," said Buffomante, driver of the No.34 Capaldi Racing Mustang.
Though temperatures were still on the very warm side for the morning qualifying, they were slightly down on the highs seen earlier in the weekend, contributing to the faster speeds. That fact also meant a return to a more normal qualifying pattern calling for a quick out lap, put in a flyer, and let the tires cool for another run for a fast lap. At that point, it's call it a day, for qualifying at least, and hope that your best lap is good enough.
"I've been working hard on my driving technique and I think it paid off in this session," said Gimple who drives the No. 81 Flying Horse Motorsports Mustang of his best qualifying effort to date. "I didn't stay out too long to save my tires and now with a front row start, it will be a big advantage for the race."
Gimple drove a stellar race yesterday, narrowly missing out on the podium, in part do to having used up his tires too much early in the running as well as during qualifying.
"I thought we'd be okay with our first lap," said Buffomante of his own qualifying effort. "But, it wasn't good enough. Still, I'm pleased for Devin, and I've picked up a few more points on Jason (van Kluge). He's a good racer, and any advantage I can get on him in the championship is a big plus."
von Kluge lines up in fifth place for this afternoon's race. Alongside will be Pratt Cole and yesterday's race winner Ben Crosland starts from the seventh position. The differential among the top seven is just over eight-tenths of a second.
Race 2 gets underway at 11:00 AM EDT. Live timing and scoring is available at mustangchallenge.com.