Team Bucknum takes second win. Team Bucknum dramatically scored its second win in the last four races at Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres by grabbing the lead from rival Archangel Motorsports with just two laps remaining at the...
Team Bucknum takes second win.
Team Bucknum dramatically scored its second win in the last four races at Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres by grabbing the lead from rival Archangel Motorsports with just two laps remaining at the festive, three-hour street race in Quebec.
Archangel appeared to be in control of the race, leading most of the final hour. With about 30 minutes remaining, the #13 challenger led by about one minute, or just less than a lap lead. The gap was split in half with about 15 minutes remaining in the race when the Archangel entry over shot a corner and ended up in the run off area. And that's when things got really interesting.
After its last pit stop, Archangel was flagged for a pit stall violation: fueling the car while it is still up on its jacks. The twenty-second penalty wouldn't be assessed, though, until the end of the race, which meant Team Bucknum needed to close the 30-second gap by ten seconds or more.
With less than ten minutes remaining, it didn't appear the gap was going to be closed as Team Bucknum driver Jeff Bucknum and Archangel's Ben Devlin ran similar lap times. But, in a huge stroke of luck and equally large cloud of smoke down the back straight, Devlin's black, red and white Marshall Cooke-sponsored Lola B2K/40 lost its engine.
"You never want to win on penalties and decisions that get made after the race. That's a gamble. You can never anticipate how the rules will be interpreted and how the penalties will be assessed. It was nice to get this victory on the track racing," said driver and team owner Bryan Willman.
Willman added that it was a degree of luck, as well, that got Archangel into the lead. Midway through the race Team Bucknum had accumulated another dominating lead, this time a gap of four-laps. The lead disappeared, however, when the engine in the #56 car stalled under breaking at the end of the sweeping back straightaway and parked in the run-off area.
"It took about four or five minutes to get the car refired," continued Willman. "If it weren't for the push start from the corner workers, we would have never gotten back on the track. My heartfelt thanks to the corner workers."
Bucknum acquired the lead two laps before the checkered flag flew at the 1.55-mile circuit, and later during the post-race press conference said, "I'm just glad the race wasn't two hours and forty five minutes," the race length for six of the ten races on the American Le Mans Series schedule.
Most of the race was led by the Fairytale Brownies-sponsored car. In fact, the royal blue #56 car ran in the top spot in the LMP 675 class from the second turn on first lap until lap 81 (and, as well, for 57% of the 145 laps completed in the class), and had built a lead of four laps.
"The track conditions were difficult, and our car developed the highest degree of understeer I've ever had the pleasure of trying to drive. What Jeff did in the car at the end of race, running some of the fastest class lap times of the day, under those conditions, was pure mastery," said Team Bucknum driver Chris McMurry.
Team Bucknum has been on a hot streak during the last four races. The win was the third podium finish for the team in the last four races, and moved its drivers into solid contention for the driver's points championship.
The Team Bucknum drivers entered the race 29-31 points behind Banana Joe's-sponsored driver Jon Fields. Meanwhile, Steve Knight of Nighthawk Racing, who sat third in points before the race and held the class pole position for the race, crashed in a turn one melee on the opening lap. With four races remaining, more than 25 drivers have scored points and the top five are:
1. Jon Fields: 132
2. Ben Devlin: 116
3. Jeff Bucknum: 91
4. Chris McMurry: 89
5. Bryan Willman: 88
"We've been in first or second for the majority of the laps in the last four rounds," said Team Bucknum crew chief Pete Mercier. "It's been a real team effort and we hope to keep it going. Our crew has put together a car that's run the most consistently, and our drivers have avoided costly mistakes."
The racing continues a week from this weekend, for the second consecutive race in Canada. This time the teams will move from two straight street races to the permanent road course of Mosport International Raceway near Toronto in Bowmanville, Ontario. NBC will carry the race live at 11 a.m. EDT.