TRG Looking for GT Success at Mid-Ohio Petaluma, Calif., (June 16, 2009) - TRG is headed to Mid-Ohio for the Grand-Am Rolex Series EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to be run on Saturday, June 20. Spencer...
TRG Looking for GT Success at Mid-Ohio
Petaluma, Calif., (June 16, 2009) - TRG is headed to Mid-Ohio for the Grand-Am Rolex Series EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to be run on Saturday, June 20. Spencer Pumpelly is currently second in the GT standings and will partner with his KONI Sports Car Challenge teammate Duncan Ende at Mid-Ohio.
Team owner Kevin Buckler is pulling out all of the stops to keep Pumpelly, just eight points out of first, in the GT points battle. This includes putting Ende in with his front running driver in the No. 66 AXA/Wealth Management Strategies/TRG Porsche GT3. This shows that the TRG racing ladder formula - from the track days, to club, to KONI and into GT is paying dividends for the team with KONI front runner Ende joining Pumpelly this weekend.
"I'm really excited to be in the 66 at Mid-Ohio," Ende said. "Spencer is sitting second in the driver's points standings so I'm coming in to do my part to keep him up there. I haven't been to Mid-Ohio in a couple of years, but I've always liked the track. I'm not sure how we'll stack up to the tube frame cars in the dry, but it usually isn't dry for too long when I've been in Ohio, which should even the playing field. The biggest challenge might be dealing with the ultra-compacted schedule we have with the two-and-a-half hour KONI race finishing up less than an hour before the green comes out for the Rolex race."
Pumpelly is happy to be running with his KONI teammate at Mid-Ohio.
"I have been fortunate to have lots of good co-drivers this year and I have worked with Duncan in the KONI Challenge series so it should be a good weekend for us," Pumpelly said. "Mid-Ohio is a slow technical track which essentially means slow. We will need to work on getting the car to put power down and transition well. Mid-Ohio and I have never really gotten along in the past, but I hope to change that this weekend."
Justin Marks and Andy Lally have endured a very tough season following their dominate win at the Rolex 24 Hour in late January. The duos best finish since the Rolex has been a fourth place at New Jersey in the No. 67 Construct Corps/CRG/No Fear Energy Drinks/Voodoo Ride/K1 Speed/Gemstone Winery/TRG Porsche GT3.
"At this point I'm just going to have fun driving this car, enjoy my time with the TRG guys and just try to win races," Marks said. "We're so far out of it that points don't really come into it anymore. I'm looking forward to going out there and driving with a little more aggression and just getting the most out of my time as possible. The game changes when you have a season like this and now I'm just purely out to win and that's how I'm going to drive. At Mid-Ohio you have to be strong through the technical section of the track but, like any kind of car, you have to be good out of turn one and good out of the Keyhole down the backstretch for the track's two passing zones. I told all the PTG guys in 2005 that I hated Mid-Ohio then went and got the KONI and Rolex GT poles back-to-back. They said "you still hate this place? Haha" and I said "Yep"."
"We have had a lot of tough luck this year, but I am still approaching every weekend with the same attitude," Lally said. "I come here to win every race that I enter and that will not change. We have had up and down luck with both the Rolex car and the KONI car this year but we have also won in both and are always near the front of the field. I know this team can win more races and I will be trying as hard as ever to help make it happen. The cool thing about Mid-Ohio is that you are always sacrificing something in the setup. It is a challenge because the course is so different from one corner to the next that one setup will not be perfect all the way around the track. It is like this more so here than any other place we race. We will be focusing on being good coming off the corners here onto the longest straights. It is tough to pass here and it all starts with how well you come off the corner. Mid-Ohio is certainly one of my all time favorite tracks. I have so many awesome memories here I could go on forever. I had three pole positions in one weekend that turned into two wins and the perfect weekend was in the bag until a half-shaft broke while in the lead of the third race. I have more wins here than all other tracks except for "The Glen" with the last one coming in a dramatic finish in 2007 with my teammate RJ Valentine in the Rolex race. I love this place."
John Potter and Craig Stanton in the No. 65 Magnus Racing/TRG Porsche GT3 have shown great improvement in the last two races. The duo is looking for a strong run at Mid-Ohio this weekend.
"I love Mid-Ohio, there a lot of elements of that track that are great and challenging," Stanton said. "In the turns that are critical you have concrete patches that have grip and then you have to find traction around the rest of the track. Then when you do, you throw rain on top of that and that makes it even more fun. We are expecting a 30 to 40 percent chance of rain. Last year we had a deluge. We ended up fourth last year. We didn't have a great outing in New Jersey in the rain, but I think we have made some great improvements with visibility and car setup since then. The race will end in the evening, so visibility will be a critical element. Collectively the 65 team is getting better and better every weekend. The car is getting more to John's liking and he gets better every race. That includes all of the time with Andy in the KONI car as well. I am helping John as well on the weekends on and off the track."
Josemanuel Gutierrez and Scott Schroeder in their No. 68 Cohen Financial/Intercity Lines/TRG Porsche are returning to a track where they have a lot of laps.
"I have raced at Mid-Ohio three times, two in club racing and one with the Rolex Series last year," Gutierrez said. "The back section, that is from the right turn after the long back straight all the way to the last turn, before the front straight is the section that has a series of tight and technical turns, where power is not needed as much. I think just everybody remembers the 2008 Mid-Ohio race, the conditions were quite adverse, we all started with slicks and just after the start , torrential, tornado like rain came down. It was a big mess out there, lots of cars went off, luckily we didn't, conditions remained treacherous and I ended with my best finish of fifth. So after all, the rain wasn't all that bad for me. The fans there are just really great, there was such a big turnout, even with the rain. It is a big plus for us driver's to entertain such big crowd."
"I have raced at Mid-Ohio in both open wheel and closed wheel cars," Schroeder said. "I drove and raced Formula BMW at Mid-Ohio in 2006 and in 2007. I raced with TRG in the KONI Challenge series. I think it is a great track as the whole circuit is very unique. You need to get a good run out of Turn Two and on to the back straight and then you need to keep your speed up through the fast right at the end of the back straight. This track is very technical which I feel favors not only my driving style but also the Porsche. I have had some good times at Mid-Ohio. In my first ever Formula BMW USA race I started 17th and finished sixth in the pouring rain. So I have to say, I would not mind if it rains for this weekend's Rolex race."
Team owner Kevin Buckler will have a busy weekend jetting between Mid-Ohio and the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California.
"It will be a crazy weekend, but one that promises a lot of success," Buckler said. "We have the NASCAR Sprint Cup car running at Infineon and six Porsches at Mid-Ohio. I am trying my hardest to keep Spencer and the AXA 66 car up there in the points and to make sure that all of the cars are on the cutting edge of the latest in development. Plugging Duncan in this weekend is really a no brainer since they run so well together in KONI Challenge and he is very solid in the GT car as well. We need to get that jinx off of the 67 car with Andy and Justin. They are such a strong combo and I expect good things out of them. This team still has all of the promise we thought they would after the Rolex win, we just need a good weekend. Josemanuel and Scott are really steady and are improving with every outing. They have had some really strong drives and work so well together. John and Craig have made huge strides in performance in each of the last several races. I think a podium is definitely in their future. I can't wait!
Craig Stanton and Andy Lally took the weekend between Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio to compete in a 24 Hour bike race in Big Bear, West Virginia, winning their class. There some 80 teams competing in the race.
The EMCO Gears Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will be run late Saturday, taking the green at 5:00 p.m. ET and will be televised live on the SPEED Channel.