Starting the Next Quarter Century LAKEVILLE, CT July 12, 2008 Golf, baseball, football, basketball you can name almost any sport and few compare with racing's ability to so quickly and dramatically change fortunes. At the half-way point of...
Starting the Next Quarter Century
LAKEVILLE, CT July 12, 2008 Golf, baseball, football, basketball you can name almost any sport and few compare with racing's ability to so quickly and dramatically change fortunes. At the half-way point of the two hour forty-five minute American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix, Butch Leitzinger was second in the #20 Thetford/Norcold Porsche RS Spyder, followed closely in third by Guy Smith in the sister #16 car.
Smith's race ended ten minutes past the halfway point after contact while passing sent him into the Armco barrier. The nature of the Lime Rock track has faster cars behind slower cars for longer periods of time and puts more of a premium on getting ahead of them.
That left Butch Leitzinger to carry the Dyson Racing flag to the end. Marino Franchitti handed Leitzinger a well-fought third place car during the first pit stop an hour into the race. Franchitti had moved from sixth to third at the start. "It was an aggressive, crazy start, but a hole opened up in front of me and I took advantage of it," recounted Franchitti.
While most of the field was going off the track at one time or another as the track got progressively dirtier, Butch drove a clean race of concentration and was running third with three minutes to go when he was tapped from behind into a spin. Leitzinger got going again, but the left rear tire deflated from the spin debris and the car hit the barriers by the starter's stand on the front straight, causing extensive damage.
"This was the second time this year that Butch was taken out by the same car late in the race," said Chris Dyson. "It was not a racing incident, but a hopeless and amateurish attempt to get Butch out of the way. It smacked of pure desperation and is a real shame. Butch really had the measure of him and it is disappointing to have it come down to being shoved off the road with less than three minutes left in the race. It will be a busy week. We have five days to turn around two badly damaged race cars in time for Mid- Ohio next week.
"It would have been nice to finish off our 25th anniversary weekend with a strong finish for our home fans, but we do want to thank everyone who made this weekend so uniquely memorable for Dyson Racing. The recognition we have received from the series, our partners, and fans has been a profoundly emotional experience all of us on the team."