John Baucom raced the ...
John Baucom raced the #86 MAP Quality Engineering Jaguar XK-R to a career high 4th place finish in this weekend's Motorock Miami 100. "The components of a successful race program are really coming together for us right now: engine building, chassis engineering, sponsorship, and marketing. This finish is a result of the consistent improvements that the entire team has made in these areas all year long," said a delighted Baucom.
Starting 8th on the grid, Baucom had his work cut out for him to reach the front. "The Miami circuit layout makes for very close-quarters racing with only one good place for passing, that being at the end of the front straight as the cars approach turn #1. However, there is a huge bump leading into the turn that makes it very difficult to get a good run on anyone. We were hitting that bump at 106-107 MPH and it would throw the car a bit sideways."
Baucom, exercising his pension for passing in the first turn of the race, wasted no time making his way to the front, passing two cars on the start, and entered turn #2 in 6thposition. "I was a bit surprised that I was able to get such a good run on Randy Ruhlman (7th place starter) at the start. As we exited turn #1, I was also able to pass Jorge Diaz (6th place starter) when he got bottled up on the outside," said Baucom. The successful start enabled Baucom to keep the leaders within striking distance, and, on lap 10, Baucom earned another career 1st: a "Fast Five" bonus point, awarded to any driver who is within five seconds of the leader of the race at the conclusion of the "Fast Five" lap.
The competition up front was fierce as Jorge Diaz battled back to re-claim the 6th position. After a few laps, Baucom passed Diaz once again and set his sights on the 5th position occupied by Michael Lewis. "I thought I had the faster car, but I knew passing Michael was going to be very difficult," said Baucom. Patiently waiting for an opportunity, Baucom pounced on an opening and slid under Lewis to take the 4th position. However, near the closing stages of the race, Baucom found himself caught behind lapped traffic, and Lewis muscled his way by Baucom to re-claim 4th. Baucom spent the next few laps on Lewis' bumper before rocketing the #86 MAP Quality Engineering Jaguar past Lewis to claim the 4th position once again. "The Baucom-Lewis battle was the most exciting racing on the track all weekend," said Mike Wiedmaier, President of Extreme DieCast, one of the car's new sponsors. A late race caution on laps 61-64 set the stage for a two-lap shoot out to the finish. Baucom used the caution laps to cool his tires, and challenged the Corvette, driven by Bobby Sak, for 3rd place, but did not have enough laps left to make a pass.
Crew Chief Allen Culpepper described the finish ".as a tremendous reward for all the hard work that the team has put in over the last several months. Our suspension was really dialed-in, especially with a full fuel load. In fact, we were the fastest car on the track for several laps at the beginning of the race. The guys at MAP Quality Engineering have been helping us leverage NWA Quality Analyst to better understand our telemetry data, and it certainly has helped enable us to put John into a car capable of winning."
"Our goal is to win the Trans-Am Championship, but we understand that we first have to achieve important milestones along the way. Building on our top-ten finishes earlier this year, this top-five finish was the next milestone for our team to achieve. Now we have our sights set on the podium," explained Baucom.