Birmingham: Dempsey Racing preview

Joe Foster and Charles Espenlaub to Race No. 40 Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 This Weekend at Barber Motorsports Park; Foster and Espenlaub Look For Top-5 Finish As "Day Job" Keeps Dempsey from Barber Race BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 16, 2009) -- Joe ...

Joe Foster and Charles Espenlaub to Race No. 40 Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 This Weekend at Barber Motorsports Park; Foster and Espenlaub Look For Top-5 Finish As "Day Job" Keeps Dempsey from Barber Race

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 16, 2009) -- Joe Foster and factory Mazda driver Charles Espenlaub will be looking to continue Dempsey Racing's best season to date and earn another career top-five finish this weekend in the Porsche 250 presented by Legacy Credit Union at Barber Motorsports Park, July 17 -- 19. Foster and Espenlaub will co-drive the No. 40 Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 GT car in Sunday's 2-¾ hour timed sprint (Live on SPEED at 3 p.m. ET/Noon PT) as team co-owner and driver Patrick Dempsey will miss just his second race of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season.

"The team continuity should be fine as Charles has been driving with us regularly since 2006," said Foster, who co-drove to a Rolex Series GT career-best fifth-place finish with Espenlaub at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) in 2008. "We are continuing to work towards running a second car fulltime in 2010 with him in it. Charles is very quick and fortunately we both tend to like the same set up on the car. He has been a Mazda factory driver for several years and is always fast when his luck and the car stay together!"

In addition to racing with the team in this year's Grand-Am Rolex Series endurance races, Espenlaub also filled in for Dempsey in April's Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR. He and Foster finished seventh and began a Dempsey Racing streak of top-10 finishes that nearly continued two weeks ago in the Brumos Porsche 250 At Daytona. Up to that point, Dempsey Racing had posted six consecutive top-10 finishes, including a run of five straight by Dempsey and Foster, which was capped by back-to-back career-best finishes for the duo in the two races prior to Daytona. Dempsey and Foster recovered to finish 11th at Daytona after Foster was sideswiped and knocked off course by a Daytona Prototype in the middle of the race.

"Even with some bad luck at Daytona we are having a great season for Dempsey Racing and Mazda," said Dempsey, who began the next season of production with the cast and crew of Grey's Anatomy this week. "Although my day job keeps me away from the track occasionally, I am sure Charles and Joe will keep pushing the team forward at Barber."

An early-race tire problem resulted in a 14th-place finish in Dempsey Racing's Rolex Series debut at Barber in 2008 with Dempsey and Foster in the No. 40 Mazda RX-8, but the Alabama circuit has been the site of some team success.

"As a team we have had lots of success at Barber and last year in particular was a memorable KONI race," said Foster, the reigning Grand-Am KONI Challenge GS Champion. "We won the pole and the race and it was the first time my wife Claudette and our girls Kyra and Delaney saw me win a race in the flesh."

Foster and his family live in nearby Atlanta, which is also home to Dempsey Racing. That means Foster and all on the team know how severe Southeastern summer heat can be. The annual race at Barber is usually run in extremely hot and humid conditions and the recent race at Daytona on the Fourth of July was also a scorcher.

"We are getting used to the heat after Daytona," Foster said. "It was so hot there that it melted the grip tape on the pedals and the glue holding the soles on my shoes. I still have blisters on my feet. Driving a race car in those conditions is sort of like hyperventilating with a hair dryer blowing in your mouth!"

Staying in top physical condition has helped Dempsey and Foster handle the heat and other extreme conditions in races. The Dempsey Racing team has also placed an emphasis on every aspect of top-level performance this season, and the No. 40 Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 has been competitive at every race this year.

Dempsey and Foster drove the Mazda to their career-best finish as a duo with sixth-place in June's EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. One Rolex Series race prior to that, Dempsey, Foster and Espenlaub matched their then career-best result of seventh in the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen. Dempsey and Foster also finished seventh in the Verizon Wireless 250 at New Jersey Motorsports Park in May in addition to 10th place in the Verizon Festival of Speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca later that month.

"The Dempsey guys have been raising the level of their program at each race and we will certainly be pushing to get the Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 GT on the podium at Barber," Espenlaub said. "I'm grateful to Mazda and Patrick for the chance to drive this car and hope we can turn it into something fulltime in the future."

The solid run of results also saw a top-10 finish in last month's 24 Hours of Le Mans that fell between the Sahlen's Six Hours and the EMCO Gears Classic. Dempsey and Foster combined to drive more than 20 hours of the race and, along with teammate Don Kitch Jr., finished ninth in the GT2 class in the No. 81 Dempsey Racing/Team Seattle Ferrari F430 GT.

-credit: dr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Charles Espenlaub , Don Kitch Jr. , Joe Foster