GIMPLE SCORES FIRST PRO WIN IN MUSTANG CHALLENGE AT NJMP MILLVILLE, NJ, 18 July - Scoring a win is always sweet. Scoring a first win is sweeter still. Scoring a first pro win in flag-to-flag domination is the sweetest of all. That is exactly...
GIMPLE SCORES FIRST PRO WIN IN MUSTANG CHALLENGE AT NJMP
MILLVILLE, NJ, 18 July - Scoring a win is always sweet. Scoring a first win is sweeter still. Scoring a first pro win in flag-to-flag domination is the sweetest of all. That is exactly what Kyle Gimple accomplished on Sunday in round 8 of the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Taking the lead from the outside pole in turn 1, Gimple put his head down behind the wheel of the No. 81 ICY Racing/82 Autowerks Mustang, and never looked back.
"I've learned to keep a close eye on the starter and watch for the first flinch of the green flag and it worked in my favor this time as I was able to get a jump on Devin (Cates). From there, I had my dad and my crew chief on the radio, keeping me calm and focused on the lead. I knew I had the car to win if I could keep from using up the tires to early. The last 10 laps I knew I had the win," said Gimple.
Behind, Jason von Kluge salvaged what had been thus far a disappointing weekend by his usual standards, finishing in second place. The final place on the podium went to the race's polesitter Deven Cates, who impressed in his Mustang Challenge debut weekend.
With an all-rookie front row, all eyes were on turn 1 at the start. Cates and Gimple performed like veterans leading the field to the green and when they arrived in the braking zone, Gimple took advantage of better jump to take over the point. Pratt Cole made up the most positions on the opening lap, which earned him the Greenfiltersusa.com "We're Going Green" award. He made his way from sixth place to third place by the time the field had exited turn 2.
The usual turn 1 scrum inflicted some damage to the rear of the No. 34 Ford Mustang of Tony Buffomante. As the result of some contact, he suffered a bent exhaust pipe and was consequently saddled with some top-end power loss.
Dan Aweida was forced to start the race from the pitlane, having endured some damage to his No. 17 Flying Horse Motorsports Mustang during the morning qualifying. Soon, enough, he was picking his way back through the field as he chased a second podium on the weekend.
Up front, Gimple kept control of those behind. Cates gave chase early followed by Pratt Cole and von Kluge. By the start of lap-3 von Kluge came up the inside of Cole in turn 1 for third place. At that point the front trio of Gimple, Cates and von Kluge began to edge away.
George Winkler and yesterday's race winner, Ben Crosland were battling for position that unfortunately did not end well for both drivers. Winkler was sent off track between turns 3 and 4, relegating him to the back of the field, while for his misdeed, Crosland was summoned to pit lane to serve a drive-through penalty.
Meanwhile, the top-3 were sizing each other up and while both Cates and von Kluge had some looks, the trio held station for a few more laps. Deeper in the field, Brad Adams and Richard Golinello were fighting a spirited battle for position. Adams managed to stay ahead and eventually edge away. Dan Aweida had also been busy as by lap-7 he was up to sixth place.
On lap 14, Buffomante got the draft he needed to get past Cole for fourth place. At this point he was seeking to salvage as much of the buffer he had created to von Kluge in the title chase.
"I was really unhappy with how yesterday went for me and it didn't get any better after qualifying this morning, so I focused on channeling all that negative energy right into my driving. It's nice to be able to make up some of the points lost yesterday and happy to be on the podium at the end of the weekend, but I'm only really happy when I'm on the top step. Still, we've got two round to go, so there's a lot of racing still to be done," said von Kluge, driver of the No.19 JVK Motorsports Mustang.
By lap 18, von Kluge managed to find a way past Cates for second, and thereafter he had used up enough of his tires and was far enough behind Gimple, that second would be the best on the day for him.
"My run was good, but I didn't get a good jump at the start so I didn't get to lead a lap after starting from pole, which was disappointing" said Cates. "Gimple got me and then from there I was just following him. I was faster in some sections, but he'd just pull me through the final section, so there was nothing I could do. I was close a couple of times, just not close enough to make a move. Then things got kind of hot in the car. I made a couple of mistakes and all of a sudden, I saw von Kluge behind me. He made a good move and I couldn't defend it. It's great to get a podium on my first weekend here in Mustang Challenge."
At the checkered flag, the order was Gimple, leading von Kluge, Cates, Buffomante, Cole, Aweida, Crosland, Adams, Golinello and David Rosenblum to close out the top-10. For his efforts, Gimple was not only the winner, but was also awarded the BF Goodrich "Take Control" Award as well as the Sunday Group Management Rookie of the Race Award.
The next round of the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge takes place on July 30- August 1 at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois. Thanks to the staff and corner workers at NJMP for a great weekend!
GREEN Filters Fast First Award: Pratt Cole Sunday Group Management "Rookie of the Race": Kyle Gimple BF Goodrich "Take Control" Award: Kyle Gimple