A Slide, A Crash, A Short Run For Stevenson Corvette At Iowa The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Reserves came to Rusty Wallace's Iowa Speedway for the first time this past weekend. Among the series regulars in the...
A Slide, A Crash, A Short Run For Stevenson Corvette At Iowa
The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Reserves came to Rusty Wallace's Iowa Speedway for the first time this past weekend. Among the series regulars in the GT class was the #57 Stevenson Motorsports Corvette, driven by Marc Bunting and Dominic Cicero II.
Bunting qualified the car at 8th on the grid, ahead of seven other GT class cars and, once again, as the fastest Corvette in the field. But this significant starting position within a very competitive field would go for naught as there was danger lurking right around a corner for the red, white and blue Chevrolet.
The Iowa course is extremely short at just 1.3 miles. The race length turned out to be 185 laps or just over 240 miles. But for the Stevenson entry, the race turned out to be a lot fewer miles than anyone expected.
On the 41st lap, Marc Bunting -- running in sixth place - was chasing the #70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 of Nick Ham. As Ham exited turn four - a left hand corner - his rear end broke traction and he began to slide. His momentum took him back into the path of the hard charging Bunting who had been following closely behind. The two cars collided hard with the left front of the Mazda, and the right front of the Corvette sustaining significant damage. Both cars had to return to the pits and then go behind the wall.
For the Stevenson Corvette, their race would end as the damage done was simply too severe to allow them to carry on.
Bunting: "The uprights were broken on the right front suspension."
Cicero: "Marc brought the car in to the pits and I immediately climbed in while the guys looked at the damage. Within a minute or so they told me to climb back out as the frame was bent and the damage couldn't be repaired at the track. Our race was done."
Bunting was on the move and setting up for a possible pass of the Mazda when the collision suddenly put that idea to rest.
"I had been catching him for the last several laps. For the prior six laps he had been unable to get his car to the apex in turn 4. I was finally close enough to make the pass when Nick went in too hot trying to defend his position and lost control of the car. He spun right in front of me and I had no place to go. The shame of it is I was about to pass Nick for 5th place when the incident occurred."
Despite the dismal outcome in Iowa, the team has found the answers that have provided dramatic improvements in the performance of the Crawford-built chassis the last few races. But what they haven't found much of is luck. But coming into this race, Cicero really didn't think luck would be waiting for them at the tiny IOWA circuit.
"The track is really too small in general. I'm sure it's great for the fans but it is impossible to pass on this track. We had a great race car too, and we learned a lot during the extra day of testing."
Team Manager Mike Johnson was obviously disappointed in how this race ended, but he is optimistic about the direction the team is headed.
"We finally had some good test time this weekend, and were 5th quick at the end of the Friday Test Day. While some teams went faster on Friday, we worked on making a better race car for the difficult turn nine, and the oval. We were in excellent position just getting ready for our first stop when the #70 spun and Marc had no where to go. But, this team is now in a position where it can and should be competing for top five's every weekend, we just need to put it all together."
Putting it all back together is the task before the team now as they need to get the car repaired in time for the upcoming Porsche 250 round at Barber Motorsports Park next weekend. Cicero expects this team that has come so far in just one season will also be able to come far enough to be a factor at the much longer 2.3 mile Alabama circuit.
"The guys have promised Marc and me that the car will be ready for the Porsche 250. And I am going to make sure I will be ready too as I will be training and getting mentally ready for what I expect will be a great weekend in Alabama!"
The next race for the GT class is the Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, to be run on Saturday, July 21st.