Road America: The Racer's Group race report

TRG Finish 4th at Road America 500 Elkhart Lake, WI -- August 22, 2004 -- The ...

TRG Finish 4th at Road America 500

Elkhart Lake, WI -- August 22, 2004 -- The #66 New Century Mortgage/Monster Cable Porsche of Cort Wagner and Patrick Long finished the Road America 500 in 4th place today, as a yellow flag at the exact wrong moment dashed the team's hope of a podium finish. Patrick Long, who qualified and started the car in 4th position, flew from the start, and gained two track positions throughout the duration of his first stint. At the 1:05.00 mark of the race, Long came in for a flawless pit stop and handed the controls over to co-driver Cort Wagner. Wagner then drove a perfect stint, regaining two positions back on the field; after nearly an hour in the car, he pitted under green for the team's final pit stop of the day and a driver change. With a fresh set of tires and a full tank of fuel, Long was set to fly for the rest of the race, but a full-course caution was called two laps into his second stint for debris on the front straight. The debris was in a clearly visible and easily accessible place, but the ensuing full-course caution period negated the advantage TRG had built by executing its final pit stop with 45 minutes remaining. As the three cars ahead of the #66 car had not pitted a second time for fuel and tires, Long's pace would have put his car in the hunt for the class win if not for the yellow flag.

He said, "It's a bit gut-wrenching to have such a great weekend end because of pure bad luck. We showed that the #66 New Century Mortgage/Monster Cable car had the pace to challenge for the win -- at the end of the race I was able to keep Timo [Bernhard, GT winner today] at bay, and I think that if the yellow had happened at a different time, we'd have been on the podium today. Our strategy was perfect, but we can't control stuff like caution flags. Everything we've been promising is happening now from a chemistry, strategy and mechanical standpoint -- we have a world-class team built here and we're making headway, but we just need a break!"

The #67 Flamingo Resort/TRG Porsche of Pierre Ehret and Philip Collin had a trouble free race, and finished 8th in class. The duo drove brilliantly throughout the course of the weekend and brought the car back to the team at the end of the race without so much as a scratch on the splitter. Collin, of Deerfield, Ill., said, "It was a great weekend for us, and absolutely a super team to work with for me. I think we did well, and for me it was gratifying to have a last-lap pass. We ran a good race and had great strategy calls. We did our splash and go early in the race, and in hindsight, we should have done that during the caution period, but we had no way of knowing that'd happen. Dave [Fullerton, crew chief] conducts a great group of guys, and we had flawless pit stops. I'm excited to do this again!"

Team owner Kevin Buckler said, "That caution flag was a really tough break for us. We were in the running for a podium, possibly the win, and we had just pitted for the last time when the flag came out -- just the worst time for that to happen for us. Pierre and Philip drove a great race, and never put a wheel off all weekend. Pierre drove one and half stints, and did great at it. I'm just bummed about the debris on the track."

The American Le Mans Series races next at the famous Petit Le Mans, at Road Atlanta on September 26.


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Series ALMS
Drivers Kevin Buckler , Pierre Ehret , Patrick Long , Cort Wagner