RACE: CarTech FM Challenge June Sprints summary

CARTECH FM CHALLENGE WIN AT JUNE SPRINTS GOES TO MARCHAND Michigan driver wins second consecutive series win with strong drive from the rear of the field ELKHART LAKE, WIS. (June 21, 2009) -- The 2009 edition of the Cartech FM Challenge resumed...

CARTECH FM CHALLENGE WIN AT JUNE SPRINTS GOES TO MARCHAND
Michigan driver wins second consecutive series win with strong drive from the rear of the field

ELKHART LAKE, WIS. (June 21, 2009) -- The 2009 edition of the Cartech FM Challenge resumed over the weekend (June 20-21), with Round Four running in conjunction with the prestigious SCCA Chicago Region June Sprints. Juan Marchand, following a great charge from the rear of the field, was the leader when the checkered flag waved at Road America, earning his second consecutive win in series competition, ahead of Franklin Futrelle and Dale Vandenbush.

The opening day of action at the famed road America road course commenced for the Cartech FM Challenge drivers via an afternoon practice session. Futrelle, seeking to extend his championship lead with a second consecutive June Sprints win, showed good speed early on, leading the Cartech contingent with the second fastest time among all the FM competitors. Setting the stage for what would be a successful weekend, Marchand and Guy Pipitne were not far back on the time sheets, turning the second and third fastest series time.

Saturday featured the first of two qualifying sessions on the 4,0-mile road course just before lunch. Futrelle, who is also the defending SCCA National Champion and Cartech FM Challenge champion, once again turned the fastest time among the series competitors, second among all the Formula Mazdas, earning a provisional class front-row start. Emerging from what was a multi-car fight for position, Jason Vinkmulder and Jeremy Grenier ended the session second and third in the Cartech contingent.

Race day at Road America commenced with a second and final qualifying session, with the combined times setting the grid for the late afternoon race. Reinforcing his position as the driver to beat thus far at Road America, Futrelle not only posted the fastest Cartech FM time, but the fastest overall FM time, securing the pole for the class. Vinkmulder and Grenier, both of whom found close to a second in time during the session, once again were second and third fastest of the series drivers.

Returning to the cockpits of their Formula Mazda's as the final race of the event, the on-track action heated up immediately when the green flag waved. While Futrelle maintained the lead through the opening set of turns, the order shuffled behind, as Grenier moved up to second and Bruce Lawrence slotted into third. That remained the order up-front for the opening three laps, before Vinkmulder regained third place just prior to the full-course caution being displayed for cars off-course.

On the ensuing re-start, Grenier enjoyed the best launch among the lead back, passing Futrelle for P1. All eyes however were soon on Marchand, having started near the rear of the field. The Round Three winner worked his way up to third on the re-start, was in the lead one lap later, ahead of Grenier and Futrelle. While Grenier briefly re-took the top spot one lap later, he could not hold the position, as Marchand took over the lead for good on lap 11. Marchand, holding off Grenier until the final lap, when the second place driver was forced into a gravel trap by another car, scored his second consecutive Cartech FM Challenge win by 3.432 seconds at the stripe. Futrelle, suffering a slight mechanical problem late in the race, took the checkered flag in second, comfortably ahead of Vandenbush, who had enjoyed a strong second half of the 13-lap race. Completing the top-five in Round Four at Road America were Curt Harrelson and Joe Garner, thanks in part to multiple cars going off-course in the closing stages.

The 2009 Cartech FM Challenge, which features a $10,000 prize fund, continues on July 19 at Summit Point Raceway, with Round Five of the six-race championship.

-credit: www.thecartechchallenge.com

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Series SCCA
Teams HART