Krohn Racing/TRG Finishes Ninth and Nineteenth at Barber Birmingham, Alabama -- Krohn Racing/TRG drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Bergmeister were leading the race and nearly claimed their first Grand American Rolex Series win of 2005, until...
Krohn Racing/TRG Finishes Ninth and Nineteenth at Barber
Birmingham, Alabama -- Krohn Racing/TRG drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Bergmeister were leading the race and nearly claimed their first Grand American Rolex Series win of 2005, until they had to make a pit stop for fuel with four laps to go in the caution filled Porsche 250 Presented by Bradley Arant at Barber Motorsports Park today. The Brazilian and German were able to bring the car home in ninth. Teammates Nic Jonsson and Tracy Krohn finished 19th.
Starting from the outside of row one, Fittipaldi had to make a pit stop just 11 laps into the race, as his number 66/Krohn Racing/TRG/Pontiac Riley had smoke coming from the rear of the car.
"In the beginning of the race we had too much oil in the engine," Fittipaldi said explaining the reason for the early unscheduled pit stop. The car started burning and fumes were coming from the back of the car. They [the Grand Am officials] were going to black flag me. So, we took the opportunity to make a pit stop and put J0x00f6rg in the car and try to run him as much as we could."
With Bergmeister behind the wheel, he put on an impressive driving display, steadily making his way through the field, while trying to pick up some of the positions they had lost due to the early pit stop. By the time Bergmeister got out of the car on caution lap 36 for Fittipaldi's next stint, the number 66 car had moved up to 13th.
"It was pretty tough to pass here," Bergmeister said. "There are only two spots that really work. One is in the hairpin and the other is in the last corner. You can go to the inside and dive in there, which is pretty hard because after a while guys know you are coming. It was pretty interesting out there. The traffic was really bad."
Fittipaldi needed only 17 laps to take over the lead on lap 53, a position he would hold for the next 39 laps around the 2.3-mile, 16-turn circuit. The last four laps of the race would prove to be the most crucial laps of the race. With Fittipaldi leading, he had to pit because the car was low on fuel and this untimely pit stop kept Fittipaldi and Bergmeister out of victory circle.
"That is how the race went," Fittipaldi said expressing his frustration. "It definitely wasn't our day today. We had the quickest car out there the whole weekend, but we lost the race and that is what counts at the end of the day."
"You wouldn't believe how slow I was going toward the end to conserve fuel. I couldn't go any slower than that because if I did Max [Angelelli] would go by me. We hoped that another yellow would come out [late in the race] and I would keep my track position and then I could beat him to the end. But, obviously that wasn't the case and we had to stop about four laps from the end. Then, when we did a short [pit] stop, I don't know what happened but we had a small problem with the fuel system or something because we ran out of fuel on the last lap."
"We were good up front again," co-team owner Kevin Buckler said. "This [No. 66] car has been leading so many laps this year. It looked like we had a little bit of an oil leak or an overfill problem early on. We had to come in and that put us out of sequence. We just needed that extra couple of laps at the end, which we didn't get. The guys drove really well."
Krohn and Jonsson both had a tough day in the number 67 Krohn Racing/TRG/Pontiac Riley, as Krohn was penalized one-minute by Grand Am officials for making contact with the number 5 Ford Crawford in turn 5. At that point, Krohn came in for a pit stop and Jonsson got into the car on caution lap 43. But, shortly after the race went green on lap 48, Jonsson was stopped on course in turn three without power to his Daytona Prototype.
"There were a lot of yellow flags today," Krohn explaining his stint in the car. "It takes about three laps to get the tire pressure up on this particular car. So, just about the time you get the tires warmed and get out from under traffic, it is about time for another yellow. I had some contact with the No. 5 car going into turn five. I felt like he kind of short braked me, but I barely tapped him and turned him around. It wasn't anything intentional. In fact, I went over and talked to him. So, they [Grand Am officials] gave me a one-minute penalty when we came in."
"Tracy did a really nice job hanging in there on the lead lap for the first hour or so," J0x00f6nsson said. "Then we decided to try for one [pit] stop. So, we left him in the car until around lap 40. If it wasn't for the two yellows we could have made it to the end [on pit strategy].
"We were coasting around for about five or six laps trying to save fuel, then when the race went green [on lap 48] going into turn one I got back on the power and the engine just died. We've been trying to figure out what went wrong and we can't find the problem. The fuel pressure is totally gone. The engine just died and I had to park it. I believe that we had a pretty decent car. We just have to hope for better luck at the next race at Watkins Glen."
Round nine of the Grand American Rolex Series will be run at Watkins Glen August 12th.