A Big Opening For Stevenson Corvette At Mid-Ohio When the Stevenson Motorsports transporter was unloaded at Mid-Ohio for the Grand-Am Rolex Series Presented By Crown Royal Reserves -- Emco Gears Classic race this past weekend, it only took...
A Big Opening For Stevenson Corvette At Mid-Ohio
When the Stevenson Motorsports transporter was unloaded at Mid-Ohio for the Grand-Am Rolex Series Presented By Crown Royal Reserves -- Emco Gears Classic race this past weekend, it only took half the normal time to get the transporter empty. For this race the #57 Corvette had made the trip alone. Team Owner Johnny Stevenson explains: "The #97 car is in Jacksonville, NC and due to extensive
damage (received in a crash at Watkins Glen) it will not be back for the rest of this year."
For the Stevenson's sole contender in this, the 8th round of the 2007 season, drivers Marc Bunting and Dominic Cicero II found the race had its share of drama and disappointment. They also saw some real improvement in the car's performance.
Bunting qualified the Chevrolet Corvette 7th on the grid, ahead of 19 other GT class competitors and ahead of four other Corvettes in the field. During the race, however, an issue with the driver's side door caused the team to lose ground. The end result was a 13th place finish in class, which placed them ahead of 13 other GT cars at the end. The Stevenson car also placed as the second highest finishing Corvette in the race.
The trouble began when Bunting brought the car in for a routine stop, but didn't quite get the car lined up in pit lane as planned.
"When entering the pits for my final pit stop I had contact with the pit lane wall. This occurred because I came in a little hot and there was some debris on pit lane. The inside tire guys did a great job of getting the tire changed after my poor parking job."
With the space between the car and the pit wall now reduced to about half the normal width, changing tires and drivers was made all the more difficult. Fortunately, the tires were securely fastened to the car. The driver's side door, however, was not.
Cicero took the car out and found he had to continually reach out with one hand and try to pull the door closed while driving the car -- in race traffic and at race speeds -- with the other hand. With every turn the door would swing open and Cicero would reach out to pull it back to the body of the car. This situation forced him to bring the car back to pit lane under the green flag, resulting in time lost to the leaders.
Bunting: "The latch to the door had somehow become fixed in the locked position before the door had actually been closed. The crew had to pry the latch open and then close the door the right way."
Despite these miscues, Bunting's assessment of this round of the series was positive.
"Mid-Ohio was a good track for the Corvette on race day. We had a good set up and were able to run consistently competitive lap times throughout the race. "
And his teammate Cicero feels the team has finally 'closed the door' on some issues that had plagued them earlier in the season. He feels the team's prospects for the five races remaining on the calendar are looking good.
"We really did have a good car. We finally figured out some major handling issues that we have been dealing with since Daytona. Our team was ready for a top five finish.
"The track was cool and we slightly missed on tire pressures. But while the car took a long time to come up to temperature, we saw a huge improvement from the other races where we were running out of tires halfway through a stint.
"We are ready for Daytona and I'm confident we will be a front running team from here on out for the rest of the season."
The next race is at Daytona International Speedway on July 5th.