TRG's Miller and Ballou finish sixth in Mexico City 250 Mexico City- TRG's two-car effort finished with mixed results in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Mexico City 250. Ted Ballou and Bryce...
TRG's Miller and Ballou finish sixth in Mexico City 250
Mexico City- TRG's two-car effort finished with mixed results in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Mexico City 250. Ted Ballou and Bryce Miller finished sixth, while teammates Spencer Pumpelly and Tim George came home in 12th.
Driving the No. 66 Marquis Jet/Mitchell Rubber/Resorts International Porsche GT3 Cup, Ballou started 12th on the grid and managed to move up to ninth at the start of the race. But, Ballou fell back to his original starting spot before handing the car over to Miller during the lap 21 caution.
"Things went pretty well; I was able to get a couple of guys at the start," Ballou said. "The car was good for a while and then the car started to go away and I fell back a little. The crew did a good job all day."
Once in the car Miller, began to run consistently fast race laps and was up to sixth by lap 54 and broke into the top five with a little more than 20 laps left in the race. Riding in fifth, Miller had a battle with the resurgent No. 72 machine which was on fresh tires. The battle captivated the TV audience, but contact and a level head had the No. 66 finishing sixth on the day.
"We struggled with the setup in practice," Miller said. "The guys pulled out some changes for the race. That really helped, we were only a few tenths off to the front runners. We have definitely made a big step forward. We are looking toward VIR and I know there is a podium on the horizon."
Heading into the round three race, Pumpelly and George were looking to stretch their Rolex Series GT championship point lead with a solid finish in the Mexico City 250. Things looked promising early in the race, as George managed to hold his position until the first race caution. Under caution, George brought the No. 67 Tampico Porsche GT3 Cup to pit lane for four tires, fuel, and a driver change.
"I ran pretty clean at the start, kind of stayed out of trouble," George said. "I kept my nose clean. I began to see the oil temp warning and then I had to run in some clean air. It was hard to draft people because I was running in clean air. Finally, I was able to move up a few positions, I passed my teammate and put about a quarter of a lap between him and myself and they called me in and Spencer took over."
After the pit stops cycled though following the caution, Pumpelly was in eighth place on lap 26. He was running well until the car starting have some overheating issues and came to the pits on laps 45 and 46 so the crew could diagnose the problem. Undaunted by the problem, Pumpelly continued to keep the car competitive. In fact, by lap 57, he moved back up to eighth, right behind TRG's sister car.
On lap 81, Pumpelly felt a vibration in the No. 67 machine. He thought the car was gathering a lot of pickup. Unfortunately, Pumpelly had a tire go down and had to come to the pits. Once there, the crew noticed the car had a stud problem that put the No. 67 out of the race.
"We had a lot of ground to make up so we began a fuel conservation strategy, which was working out pretty well," Pumpelly said. "We had plenty of fuel to go to the end. I think everyone in front of us had to stop and we were setup for a pretty good finish.
"I felt a vibration which I thought was pickup. I let some DP go by and then got back in it and it was pushing the brake pedal back. Then, I thought it might be a wheel bearing. Coming through one of the Esses it went away in a big way. I gathered it back up and came to the pits and brought it home, we broke some wheel studs."
"We have been doing a lot of stuff in the off season," team owner Kevin Buckler said. "The cars were really fast in the first two races. We may have missed it a little bit on the setup. When that happens, the guys don't complain about it, we deal with it. It was one of those weekends where you take your points and move on.
"Tim and Ted both drove an O.K. car, not a great car, and were able to keep it on the lead lap. They didn't make any mistakes. Bryce got in and drove absolutely to the fullest. We were looking like top-five finishers. We had a stud problem on the 67 and that put us out, which is too bad because that was the GT championship leading car. Spencer drove a masterful stint as well, balancing an average car with fuel strategy and performance before the stud failure. On the 66, Bryce drove real hard and kept the car under him. Everything turned out pretty good. We are championship minded and took what we were given. We will go to VIR and put our head down and go for it."
The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 next heads to Virginia International Raceway April 26-27.