PRIMETIME GETS SUCKER PUNCHED IN THE ST. PETE STREET FIGHT The privateer team of Joel Feinberg, owner and driver of the ...
PRIMETIME GETS SUCKER PUNCHED IN THE ST. PETE STREET FIGHT
The privateer team of Joel Feinberg, owner and driver of the #11 GT2 Viper had high hopes going into this week's street race after coming off their impressive start at the 12 Hours of Sebring.
The Acura Sports Car Challenge is one of the most well put together street circuits of the year, it is also one of the most demanding. With the IRL and IPS cars running as well over the weekend, track time was limited leaving only 2 hours for the ALMS teams to get comfortable and make their set up decisions.
The Primetime team would spend every minute of available track time to acclimate the Viper in its new GT2 configuration to its first street course. As the biggest car in its class the Viper would ultimately struggle in this type of surrounding due to the busyness of the corners and the limited grip in the braking zones.
As privateer team Feinberg is not afforded the luxury of the "factory" cars with tire deals that give them multiple compounds to choose from. Nope, this team is stuck with what they got. They pay for their tires and hope for the best. There dedicated team of old school mechanics and engineers have taken the "bad news bears" approach to running this program, and show up to compete as best as they can.
Throughout the prerace testing the duo of Feinberg and Hall were running middle of the pack times while fighting a car that was fighting itself. Front lockup, rear lockup, under steer, over steer... On smaller quick tracks that leave no room for tracking out or over shooting corners the Viper is constantly working to keep the tires under it. By the time qualifying came around it would already be too late to fix any issues as there was only a 15 minute gap after the final practice. The team would have to settle for a 12th place starting position and wait for the green to make their move.
On race day the team would only be making one pit stop and it would be Chris Hall taking the start and Feinberg on clean up duty. When the flag dropped Hall was on his game staying intact with the GT2 pack trying to make his way to the front. After 4 laps he had gotten by three other cars and was challenging for the 8th place position. After making that pass along the bay and ready to settle down, he had waited one corner too long. Hall had clipped the barrier wall entering the final corner of his lap and ended up in the grass.
The Viper would limp into the pits on only three wheels as the right front corner had been torn off. At first glance car chief Frank Parzych and crew chief Brent O'neill had thought the entire control arm had come off. Feinberg jumped over the wall for a closer look and a talk with the crew. The damage was not as bad as it had seemed but under the street course conditions the team had no easy access to the parts in the garage. Feinberg had made the decision to do whatever needed to be done to get back in the race. With only 1:40 remaining, the team was running out of time to be included in the official results as a finisher. Two of the Primetime mechanics went running on foot through the pits, over the pedestrian bridge, through the crowd, and back to the garage to gather the necessary parts. Meanwhile the rest of the crew was stripping the broken pieces waiting for the replacement parts. Almost 20 minutes later the car was back on the ground and Feinberg was in the car.
Once back out on track Feinberg would be in the middle of multiple battles between the other classes and have to pay close attention to his mirrors to not hold up the rest of the field. The lap times were dropping one after the next for the Viper and soon Feinberg would be back up to speed. With a GT2 championship and the rookie of the year award in mind Primetime had made the right move by getting the car back out in time to complete the mandatory 70 percent mark and possibly pick up another position or two,
Ahead of Feinberg in the prototype class was a battle between Audi, Acura, and the Porsches, with the drivers taking some questionable risks. It was that which would ultimately and unfortunately end the day for Primetime. As the Viper had made its way under the Firestone bridge, an impatient an overly aggressive Patrick Long had attempted an inside pass thought the fast esses rather than giving Feinberg an extra tenth of a second get through the corner. The #6 Penske P2 car had punted the Viper into the concrete wall like a drive by, Feinberg was a passenger at that point and the momentum would rotate the car off the wall and into the oncoming traffic of the #008 Aston Martin driven by Terry Borcheller. Attempting to miss the Viper, Borcheller tried to squeeze between the car and wall but the hole wasn't big enough. Both the Aston and the Viper where retired from the race.
"It's a shame that the faster cars don't drive more cautiously under these type of conditions, that section of the track is one of the least successful passing zones leaving no room for error. I'm a pretty heads up driver and have no problem letting a faster car get by at the right time, this incident is clearly the result of an impatient and disrespectful driver. Two teams now face having to spend undue money and all of next week repairing the car with the hopes that they can make it to Long Beach. I understand that these things happen but as a small team with a limited budget it will be tough to swallow."
The Primetime team will do what they do best and work as a team over the days to come in preparation for Long Beach. With no manufacturer backing the difficulty will be getting the necessary pieces in time to rebuild a second car and still be able to get across the country in the next 10 days. If all goes well Primetime's next stop will the Patron Long Beach Grand Prix on April 19th where they will continue their run for the GT2 Championship and the Rookie of the Year award.