Phoenix: SAMAX Motorsport preview

home track SAMAX Motorsport will make a fast change from racing on the rolling natural road course at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Calif., to the tight infield track at Phoenix International Raceway. With just six days to change car...

home track

SAMAX Motorsport will make a fast change from racing on the rolling natural road course at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Calif., to the tight infield track at Phoenix International Raceway. With just six days to change car setup, travel and prepare for the next Rolex Sports Car Series race on May 13, team time will be at a premium.

Ian James of Paradise Valley, Ariz., will have the advantage of racing on his home track, driving the No. 17 SAMAX Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car with Ryan Hunter-Reay of Boca Raton, Fla. The pair were successful in their first race together, scoring a podium finish at Laguna Seca on May 7. They hope to carry the momentum to another strong finish in Phoenix.

James noted the Phoenix race will require a different approach. "It's a patience track. At Laguna Seca, you can have quite a lot of commitment, a lot of corner speed flow. Phoenix has a very low-grip surface and you've really got to be patient with the car. You've just got to back it off a little bit and really try and look after the tires because they can go off in a heartbeat. And it's going to be a hundred-plus degrees ..."

one off

The No. 71 SAMAX/ Doncaster Racing Porsche will not compete in Phoenix. With damage from a race at Virginia International Raceway on April 23 and two major races ahead, the team opted to rebuild the car's engine. Doncaster principal John Lacey explained:

"At Virginia, we had a tap on the front that broke the radiator and we had pretty high engine temperatures. We were concerned about the condition because the engine's pretty close to the end of its hours. We have a pure GT race at Lime Rock [Conn.], followed by a six-hour race at Watkins Glen [N.Y.] and we'd rather go into those races with a fresh motor. We have a one-time opportunity to rebuild the engine, so that's what we're going to do."

endurance commute

SAMAX data engineer Travis Braun, 16, is completing his own off-track endurance race this month. He and his family commute between races in their motorhome, logging 200 days last year. Their current trip, from home in Ovalo, Tex., to Virginia, Monterey and Phoenix, will total 6000 miles. They will drive for 60 hours, using 857.14 gallons of fuel.

"For our family, it would be impossible to function without our motorhome," Braun said. "You can often find us doing school, finishing up some e-mails or preparing for the next race while going down the road. We're a very close family and the motor coach has brought us even closer. You have to be close when you sleep in the same 300-square-foot area for over half of the year! It's all about teamwork and the team at the track; it's the same philosophy with our family and the motorhome. The best advantage of using the motorhome is that you can be cooking dinner or sleeping for the night while going 70 mph down the highway."

-samax-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Ian James , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Travis Braun