Laguna Seca: TRG race report

George and Pumpelly Take Fourth Podium in Five Races to Lead TRG at Laguna Seca MONTEREY, Calif. - Co-drivers Spencer Pumpelly and Tim George Jr. once again showed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca that they are serious contenders for the 2008 ...

George and Pumpelly Take Fourth Podium in Five Races to Lead TRG at Laguna Seca

MONTEREY, Calif. - Co-drivers Spencer Pumpelly and Tim George Jr. once again showed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca that they are serious contenders for the 2008 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 GT championship with their fourth podium result in five races in Saturday's 250.

George started the No, 67 Monster Cable/944 Magazine/WIN Institute/Gleukos Porsche GT3 from 14th on the class grid and drove the opening stint in the race. A communication mix-up cost the team some valuable track position on the first pit stop, but George turned the car over to Pumpelly on the lead lap. After taking the car over in 11th place, Pumpelly charged back toward the front of the field and brought the car home in second place, just 1.131 seconds behind the winning No. 07 Pontiac. It was the fourth time in five races this season that the No. 67 teammates finished on the podium

"Second place is another consistent finish," Pumpelly said. "The TRG guys proved again that their strategy is incredible. That's how we got to the front. We also had a little help from some of the guys in front of us crashing into each other, but consistency is what's going to get us through. You really can't win at a track like this with some of the other marques, so to come away from one of the tracks that don't favor us with a second place-and we've got another one next weekend that's going to be tough-that's pretty good. I think we'll be good if we can keep doing this and then attack when we get on the tracks that do favor us later in the season. It was another excellent job. Big thanks to Monster Cable for putting all of this together."

The performance also enabled Pumpelly and George to keep the pressure on in the championship fight. With five of 13 races now in the books, the No. 67 duo is second, trailing the No. 07 team by just nine points.

"I did pretty decent in my stint," George said. "I kept the car on the lead lap, for sure. It was a little crazy, because I never heard, 'Pit now,' so I missed my first pit window, so that threw a little question mark in the air. I don't know if we could have won this thing if I would have done that. Also, we had a DP blow up in front of us and there was oil everywhere on Spencer's windshield, so we pitted and cleaned the windshield, had a splash of gas and tires. It was a blessing in disguise, that oil, because we got those tires and we just had a little edge on the Mazda at the end."

The No. 67 team led a five-car entry from TRG and was joined in the top 10 by two more of the team's Porsches.

"It's awesome to have three cars in the top 10," said team owner Kevin Buckler. "Everybody did a good job. Bryce and Ted had a little bit of controversy, and Bryce really clawed back up here and it was great. It was a good run for them to keep it in the points. It's fantastic for Spencer and Tim. Tim did a great job to keep it on the lead lap. We had a little bit of miscommunication on the first pit, but we got it all back and ran right to the end. What a great run for our first time with Riegel Autosport and Hima and Craig Stanton and that group. They had a super finish and I'm just really proud of the whole team. The only problem is we're getting so outgunned by the Pontiac that when you get up behind them, they're gone. No matter who's driving any of our cars, you just can't take them, and that's too bad."

In their first run as a team, Craig Stanton and Hima Maher brought the No. 65 Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing/Total R/Riegel Tuning Porsche GT3 from TRG/Riegel Autosport home in eighth place after starting shotgun on the field.

"Joining with TRG was a match made in heaven," said Stanton, the 2005 Rolex Series GT champion. "What's great is, the TRG guys and gals here have such a professional program. They've changed the culture of road racing. It's amazing to see the customer service and attention to detail. I've got some of the greatest guys on the 65 car and now we're a family. Paul Schroeder called the race and he's got a great voice on the radio, very calming. Kevin is kind of overseeing the whole program and he's on the radio as well, as the voice from above, so to speak. Hima did an opening stint that was great. We did go down two laps right off the get-go, and I think we were able to make one back. We had one bad luck on a yellow and the rest of them were good luck. I'm really pleased. Top 10 in the first outing is great. The team in terms of the 65 car learned a lot. Mike Wiegele is on board with his helicopter tours; we have Riegel Tuning and Stuttgart Performance. It's great."

Bryce Miller and Ted Ballou made it three TRG entries in the top 10 with a 10th-place performance in their No. 66 Marquis Jet/Mitchell Rubber/Resorts International/IPC/Total Lubricants Porsche GT3. It was the third top-10 run in five races for Ballou and Miller and allowed them to move into eighth in the GT point standings.

"We've made a lot of improvements with the car," Miller said. "We just keep moving forward. The team's working really hard and the chemistry is real good. There's just a little bit of speed that we need still. We'll just continue to look for that and hopefully we can crack into the top five here at some point in the season."

The TRG team's other two entries were forced to retire from the 250 early due to contact with each other. Early in the race, Jim Lowe in the No. 64 SRS/Globus/Adopt A Pig Porsche GT3 for TRG/J Lowe Racing attempted to pass teammate RJ Valentine in the No. 68 CRG/Maxter/Rotax/MBA Group/F1Air Porsche GT3, but quickly discovered that Valentine did not see him coming. At that point it was too late and both cars suffered damage that ultimately took both cars out. Valentine and co-driver Bryan Sellers wound up 18th, while Lowe and co-driver Jim Pace were listed 22nd.

"Unfortunately, the 64 had a little contact with the 68 early on," Buckler said. "They were both running well and kept it clean in the beginning of the race, but just got together."

-credit: trg

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Spencer Pumpelly , Jim Pace , Craig Stanton , Bryan Sellers , Paul Schroeder , Hima Maher , Jim Lowe , Ted Ballou , Tim George Jr. , Bryce Miller