Birmingham: The Racer's Group race report

Birmingham, AL -- October 10, 2004 - Kevin Buckler and Robert Nearn led the three Porsches of The Racer's Group today at the Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, AL, finishing 7th in the GT class in a race marred by multiple ...

Birmingham, AL -- October 10, 2004 - Kevin Buckler and Robert Nearn led the three Porsches of The Racer's Group today at the Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, AL, finishing 7th in the GT class in a race marred by multiple extended caution periods. The team decided to start the #67 Monster Cable/TRG Porsche on rain tires, as a steady rain had started to fall minutes before the start of the race. The weather didn't cooperate with the team's plans, however, and Nearn was caught on rapidly blistering tires as the rain ceased and the track dried just four laps into the race.

"It's been an intense week for us, lots of curveballs thrown our way," said team owner Kevin Buckler. "We did everything in our power to make the right tire call for the start of the race, and about five minutes before the start, it started drizzling. We looked at the weather information on our satellite system before the start, and there was a huge band of this tropical storm sitting right over Birmingham. It was a no-brainer for us to run rains, but it never did rain hard enough for us to take advantage of their performance characteristics. Teams had to pit within the first five laps to get back to slicks -- once we were in a groove, we ran very competitively."

The #65 Basic Coatings Porsche of David Master and Steve Pattee enjoyed an exhilarating race, finishing 7th in the SGS class. Master, who started the race, was tired but thrilled getting out of the car. "My cool suit decided not to work for the race, so it got a bit steamy in the cockpit. I was able to work up to 3rd place in class at one point, but it was hard for me to adjust to the speed differentials and the constant passing by the DPs. I tried very hard to be conscious of them and not to get hit, but I feel like I left something on the track by doing so. In the end of my stint I might have picked a few daisies with my splitter, but it was great to be out there and competing -- it's exhilarating and exhausting to race here, but I love it."

The #66 F1 Air/Gleason Agency Porsche of RJ Valentine, Chris Gleason and Ian James had a mechanical problem during the 2nd caution period of the race, as a radiator stopped working and the car began to overheat. The car lost 6 laps to the leader while the crew fixed the problem, but the delay didn't stop the trio from setting some of the fastest lap times of the race en route to a 12th place finish.

RJ Valentine said, "Today was a little disconcerting for me, we made the wrong call on tire choice at the outset of the race, but had it rained we'd have been able to jump the field on the first couple of laps. The tires went away very quickly after the green flag dropped. We changed drivers at the first yellow flag, and we unfortunately had a radiator problem. We've had a stellar season up until our bad luck at VIR, and we got a gremlin here. But, I think TRG will rise like a phoenix from the ashes at Fontana."

Team owner Kevin Buckler added, "I'm proud of everyone's effort this weekend -- it was challenging in a lot of ways, but I'm especially proud of David Master and Steve Pattee in the #65 Basic Coatings car. At one point they were running third in class, and I was over in their pits jumping up and down. The overall conditions of the race were miserable, but that all three of our cars didn't even suffer a scratch is remarkable. Off to Fontana!"

The 2004 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series wraps up in its finale on October 24 at California Speedway in Fontana, CA.

-trg-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Kevin Buckler , Ian James , Chris Gleason , Robert Nearn , Steve Pattee