FUEL MILEAGE FOILS NEW CENTURY'S BID AT BARBER PARK BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 31, 2005) -- A late pit stop on Lap 92 of the timed PORSCHE 250 presented by Bradley Arant proved to erase any chance New Century Mortgage Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix...
FUEL MILEAGE FOILS NEW CENTURY'S BID AT BARBER PARK
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 31, 2005) -- A late pit stop on Lap 92 of the timed PORSCHE 250 presented by Bradley Arant proved to erase any chance New Century Mortgage Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates had of a top-five drive this afternoon as driver Stefan Johansson tried to conserve enough fuel to make it to the stripe of the 95-lap Rolex Series race at Barber Motorsports Park.
Johansson was able to pick his way up through the 43-car field after co-pilot Cort Wagner moved the no.02 New Century Mortgage Lexus-Riley up from its 11th starting position on the grid. Wagner turned the 500 horsepower Daytona Prototype over to Johansson on Lap 36 while in sixth, and the Swede put the car in the top three by Lap 55 of the scheduled 109-lap event. With rain coming and going over the 2.3-mile road course, Johansson kept within five seconds of the frontrunners before a spin dropped him to sixth on the scoring pylon.
He kept pushing, even behind the no.66 machine that was dousing his windshield with oil residue, but fuel mileage did not work in the team's favor on this day. After the last minute splash-and-go with three laps remaining, the team finished a disappointing seventh.
"By the end of the race the car just wasn't handling correctly, and it became extremely difficult to turn into the corners," said Johansson. "It was a very difficult weekend for us to be perfectly honest. And we capped it off by having a tough race. We decided to roll the dice there at the end to get us to the finish line, but I guess it's better than not finishing the race at all, right?"
Ganassi teammate Wagner echoed Johansson's sentiments, quipping that the car just didn't have enough to run at the front this afternoon.
"We tried and tried and tried to get the mileage out of the New Century car today," said Wagner. "The bottom line is that we just weren't getting the mileage of that of the leaders for one reason or another. As a result, it relegated us to a fuel-conservation mode which didn't play into our hand."