George Jr. displays road racing skill, finishes career best in stock car of fifth Tim George Jr. scored a career best behind the wheel of a stock car, finishing fifth on Sunday in the South Jersey Building Trades 150 on the road course at New ...
George Jr. displays road racing skill, finishes career best in stock car of fifth
Tim George Jr. scored a career best behind the wheel of a stock car, finishing fifth on Sunday in the South Jersey Building Trades 150 on the road course at New Jersey Motorsports Park. The finish came after a long season of close calls and recent top 10 spoils and fell at just the right time, as George Jr. closes in on the top 10 in the point standings.
"From the drop of the green flag, I was on a mission. We really needed this finish. It feels great to bring home a top five. The guys prepared me a top five car and that's what I delivered. However, It wasn't without some sweat and drama," George Jr. said of his run.
George Jr., driver of the No. 2 Ruby Tuesday / Chrome Hearts sponsored Toyota for Eddie Sharp Racing, entered the weekend confident of a stellar run. He won on the 2.25-mile road course one year ago behind the wheel of a Porsche in the Grand Am Series.
Now a rookie in the ARCA RE/MAX Series, George Jr. has learned many lessons throughout his first year behind the wheel of a stock car. He took those lessons, along with his prowess on a road course, and put them to good use through a weekend of ups and downs en route to the fifth place showing.
Practice and qualifying were both on tap for Saturday at NJMP, but a pesky mist left track conditions slick and challenged even road racing veterans like George Jr. During the final practice, George Jr.'s Toyota got off course due to the wet conditions, slid into a guardrail, and damaged his ride. The No. 2 Ruby Tuesday team, led by crew chief Jon Wolfe, got to work and repaired George Jr.'s Toyota rather than using the backup car, but were forced to miss qualifying in order to do so.
"I watched qualifying from the tower because I had an incident in the second practice, which was somewhat depressing. However, my crew chief made the right call with fixing the primary car," George Jr. explained.
George Jr. started deep in the field from the 31st spot on Sunday. But as the green flag dropped, it didn't matter to the savvy New York native. He quickly began picking up spots and by the time the first caution flag waved on lap four, he impressively found himself in the 11th position.
By lap 10, he had maneuvered his way into the top 10, where he stayed for the remainder of the race.
The race was slowed three times for caution flags, allowing George Jr. plenty of time to race his way to the front. Despite the lack of yellows, obstacles remained for the wheelman of the No. 2 Toyota. Fellow competitors forced him off of the track on two occasions, but he quickly regrouped and continued.
The final caution flag waved on lap 58, giving George Jr. one more opportunity to drop down pitroad to the attention of his Jon Wolfe-led team. After the stop, he lined up for the restart on lap 62, leaving just five laps of green flag racing.
From the sixth position, George Jr. remained alert and avoided a last lap melee that included ESR teammate Justin Lofton. At the drop of the checkered flag, George Jr. was scored in the fifth spot.
"Coming to the checkered flag, I saw my old teammate [road racer Spencer Pumpelly] get into my current teammate Justin Lofton right in front of me. I hated that to happen for him, and emotions were high for everyone on those last few laps. I have also been teammates with Pat Long (race winner), and it was good to see him get the win after dominating the weekend," George Jr. said of the finish.
"The 4 (of Long) and 77 (the second place car of Parker Kligerman) were in another zone, and I think that prior to some of our battle wounds, we may have had a car to challenge for third. All in all I'm happy with the result, and I'm very proud of the guys on the No. 2 Ruby Tuesday team, who brought this car back to life and gave me the shot at running as well as we did."
The fifth place effort was George Jr.'s first top five showing and second top 10 of the season. He currently sits 11th in the point standings with just three races remaining in his rookie season in stock car competition.
"I look forward to taking this momentum and keeping everyone at ESR in good spirits headed into the last few races of the season," he added.
George Jr. will next hit the track on Saturday, September 19th at Salem Speedway. But, it won't be without a little bit of "studying" in between. Already in town following his run at New Jersey, George Jr. returned to his native New York City to attend the MTV Video Music Awards Sunday night. George Jr., a very athletic 28-year-old, finds importance in observing other forms of sports and made plans on Monday to attend the men's tennis final at the U.S. Open in New York.
Following his appearances around NYC, he'll shift his focus back to racing and head to Indiana for Saturday night's Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA Fall Classic 200.