After taking home the Driver's Championship in SportsTouring last year, Howie Liebengood has now set his sights on the Grand Sports Championship. Howie will once again partner with Competition Preparation as they move into the high horsepower, ...
After taking home the Driver's Championship in SportsTouring last year, Howie Liebengood has now set his sights on the Grand Sports Championship. Howie will once again partner with Competition Preparation as they move into the high horsepower, highly contested Grand Sports class.
Keeping with what the BMW marquee that they already have experience with, Liebengood and Comprep have chosen a BMW M3 in their move to Grand Sports. The M3 was purchased off of First Racing. Over the last several years, this M3 was prepped by Franz Blam Racing to compete in the Motorola Cup as well as in the Professional Sports Car Street Stock Endurance Championship. In 1999, the car captured a second place finish at Road Atlanta with Steve Pfeffer and Mike Fitzgerald at the helm.
One major change will be made at the team however. Liebengood's co-driver for nine of the ten races last year was Andy Lally. For 2001, Liebengood will share the driver's seat with John Lloyd. Lloyd was a front runner in the IMSA GT Series, and has competed with Comprep in the past when Comprep was involved with the Atlantics series.
Pennzoil and National Campaign to Stop Violence have both committed to sponsoring the car again in 2001. Liebengood will also continue his involvement of presenting a program he developed himself called "Racing to Live by the Rules", to local youth across America. In addition to presenting this program to youth in his local area last year, Liebengood expanded the efforts to teaching children at local schools around Sebring International Raceway and Virginia International Raceway. In addition to those locales, Liebengood hopes to expand the program to Homestead Miami Speedway was well this March.
Liebengood was working on coming to grips with the car at a recent open test days at Daytona International Speedway. "We are still working on getting the handling to be more like the 328's [that the team ran in 2000], but the car is a kick to drive," said Liebengood. "It has bigger brakes, bigger tires, and more horsepower!"
In 2000, Grand Sports was the most entered class in Motorola Cup, and it looks like it will have even more competition this year. Although the 2000 Driver Champions, Al Wortzmand and Mike McCalmont have moved on to Super Grand Sports, there are plenty of heavy hitters that still may be competing in the class.
SpeedSource was at the Daytona test days with three Porsches. Although SpeedSource has not ever competed in the Motorola Cup, they are a Championship caliber team, and must be taken as a serious threat, especially with a reliable car like the Porsche at their disposal. Other competition includes the Phoenix American Motorsports Firebirds, the TF Racing Mustangs, and a potential return by Grand Sports Team Champions, WindRiver Racing.
"There will be some strong competition, but I think our drivers are up to the challenge," said Dennis Eade, owner of Comprep. "With moving into the M3, we have a package that we are very familiar with from an engineering and set up standpoint."
Look for the #49 Pennzoil National Campaign To Stop Violence to be a strong championship contender as the 2001 season progresses.