ELKHART LAKE, WIS., Saturday, July 7, 2001 - In its first event since the season opening Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, Pilbeam Racing America returned to the SRPII class in the Grand American Road Racing Series (Grand Am) with a strong qualifying run.
ELKHART LAKE, WIS., Saturday, July 7, 2001 - In its first event since the season opening Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, Pilbeam Racing America returned to the SRPII class in the Grand American Road Racing Series (Grand Am) with a strong qualifying run. The #48 Pilbeam America/Fender Musical Instruments Pilbeam MP84 qualified fourth-quick in the class for tomorrow's Road America 250. The car, to be driven by Dave Dullum, Joe Blacker and Jeff Bucknum. Bucknum, who qualified the car, turned a quick time of two minutes, 7.999 seconds (112.5 mph) around the historic Road America track despite spinning off course in the final turn of his last qualifying lap.
"It has been a good weekend, considering we just pulled the car out with no testing," commented Bucknum of Phoenix, Arizona. "We are making leaps and bounds each session. I was trying really, really hard in qualifying and spun it off in the last corner. But even so, we have a nice balance on the car and were able to put it fourth on the grid. The car is excellent."
Joe Blacker, of Elliott City, Maryland, was also pleased with the 2000 FIA Sports Racer Light European championship-winning chassis. "The car is very easy to drive, very predictable. Other than a few teething issues it has been a really good weekend. We have a new car, a new crew and three guys that have never driven together. There are a lot variables and I think we are getting through it OK. We are really enjoying driving this car."
"The weekend for me is very interesting," offered Dave Dullum of Falls Church, Virginia. "This is my first time here at Road America and in this car. So it has been a learning experience for me. We had an incident early on yesterday that took us out all day. Today was my first time back out in the car and I got four or five laps so now I at least feel like I know my way around. Now I feel comfortable in the car and I think we have a competitive team."
Phil Harris, crew chief on the #48 Pilbeam, reflected over the weekend and towards tomorrow's race. "We had a pretty good run, considerably quicker than Pilbeam did here last year. We are making some changes and this morning we are on the pace with the fast guys. After the bump into the gravel we are playing catch-up a little but, overall, the car is quite good."
About today's race, Bucknum has a quiet enthusiasm about the Pilbeam's chances. "The key was coming out and getting a nice solid pace for the car and I think we have that. We are really more about the race. We need to make sure our pit stops are good, our driver changes are good and make the 500 miles. I think we have a real solid car underneath us."