The No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Sunoco-Camaro GS.R, driven by Hugh Plumb and Al Carter, came home in 7th place at the Lime Rock round of the GRAND-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series this past weekend. The finish, while still too many...
The No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Sunoco-Camaro GS.R, driven by Hugh Plumb and Al Carter, came home in 7th place at the Lime Rock round of the GRAND-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series this past weekend. The finish, while still too many places from a podium, marked the highest placing yet for the blue and yellow Camaro in its maiden year of racing. The No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports Sunoco-Camaro GS.R, driven by Matt Bell and Jeff Bucknum, struggled home to a 19th place finish after making contact with another car causing suspension damage.
Team Manager Mike Johnson: "In one sense, I am very happy that we had fast and reliable cars for the first time this season. The crew worked very hard over the break to get the cars to where they needed to be and Greg and Larry got them dialed in by race time. Matt and Al put down some amazing laps in qualifying to give us our best starting positions of the season and they fought for the lead the whole time. Unfortunately for Matt he made contact with the No. 37 car which bent the lower control arm and effectively took them out of the race."
Bell: "Lime Rock Park has always been one of my favorite tracks. It is one of the few that I can say I've been to enough times to truly know some tricks to make my way around.
"Bad luck and silly mistakes, if by myself or other drivers, this time caught us out. When you race close and fast, sometimes a small slip can depict the outcome of the race weekend. Unfortunately, I had a run in with this type of situation and made contact with a fellow competitor, breaking a front suspension component early in my stint.
"I did my best to make the most of my situation, but could not make up much ground. I handed off the car to Jeff and even his amazing charge could net only a 19th place finish. The car and the team were both amazing, as usual. I have never dealt with such a professional team and am excited to get back in the car at Watkins Glen this weekend!"
Bucknum" "I feel very bad for the team as we did not get a finishing result that matched how good our Sunoco Camaro is right now. Grant, Adrian and the other guys on the No. 6 car did a great job fixing the car after Matt's accident but we lost eight laps in the process. Once I got in the car I drove it like we were fighting for the win. In the real world of racing you don't get too many opportunities to actually race a car, so it was good for me and the whole team to push as hard as we could to be ready when we are in the lead.
"Before the race, Greg Jones and Larry Hahn did a great job engineering the cars over the short two day race weekend. Our cars did not roll of the track in great shape but Greg and Larry came up with a whole new setup just before qualifying which paid off because our cars were very good after that.
"I am very excited about how far we have come in a short amount of time so far this season, and I look forward to the rest of the year. We started with cars that were slow and constantly braking parts. Now we have cars that are always in the top five and have good reliability. I feel very good that the second half of this year will bring us more podiums and hopefully a race win or two.
"I also want to mention how excited I am to have Matt Bell as my teammate this year. He is probably a better driver than he even realizes which gives me so much confidence in our chances the rest of this year. Our first race win is not far away I can assure you!"
After the contact, the team still had one car with a shot at a podium and Johnson was optimistic this could be the race that saw the No. 9 car reach the podium, as the No. 6 car had done with a 2nd place finish at the previous round held at Virginia International Raceway.
Johnson: "Al and Hugh had a pretty flawless run and were fighting for the podium, but towards the end of the race, their car starting losing speed and Hugh dropped back to 7th at the end."
Plumb: "This was an extremely short race weekend with practice on Friday and the race on Saturday. The Stevenson guys did a great job rolling a good car right off the trailer, especially when you consider Lime Rock was not going to be the best track to suit the Camaros.
"In qualifying, Al did an amazing job putting the car sixth on the grid, in only his fourth Grand American Continental race. As his coach and co-driver this makes me extremely proud, he has come a long way in a very short time. To back this up, he quickly moved up to fourth place in his hour long stint, running as quick as the leaders, doing everything he needed to do handing me a good car in the top five.
"We had some rain early on in my stint, where we moved up after coming out of the pits 11th. We had a strong car. Moving up through the field early on, within the first 40 or so laps, then something changed drastically in the car and I found myself really working overtime to keep the car balanced.
"Overall we had a fairly decent run, given some of the unfortunate circumstances that we have had, a 7th place finish I was fairly happy with. Yes I want to be on the podium more than anyone, but a lot of really good things happened this weekend. I know more strong finishes are ahead. I say 'great job' to all the guys at Stevenson, and the boys on the No. 9 car."
Carter: "I couldn't' be more psyched about our Lime Rock race weekend and this whole Stevenson Motorsports Sunoco Camaro operation. I think that I and this Camaro team continued to gain a ton of respect in the GS paddock this weekend. Having raced at Lime Rock before, and now with a couple of Grand-Am races under my belt, I felt comfortable with the car just as it came off the trailer. With every adjustment the crew made, the Camaro only got better.
"Being able to qualify up front and back it up with keeping the car in the top five during my race stint, was an incredible feeling and a personal season highlight. Our team shared a bunch of high-fives, as we qualified 6th and ran much of the race in the top 5. Coming home with a solid top-ten finish only shows the direction the No. 9 team is heading."
Despite the off-podium finish for both cars on the 1.53 mile Lime Rock circuit, Johnson sees progress being made on two fronts - the set up of the cars and the allowances provided by GRAND-AM to level the racing field.
Johnson: "I think Grand Am has now given us the chance to be competitive and I think we now have something really good to build on. We are looking forward to taking this momentum to Watkins Glen this week and then to Mid-Ohio in two weeks."
The next race on the 2010 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series schedule will be the Continental Tire 150 on Saturday, June 5th, at Watkins Glen International.
-source: Stevenson motorsports