This Week in Ford Racing Two Ford Mustang FR500C teams lead the Grand-Am KONI Challenge championship standings heading into this weekend's season finale at Virginia International Raceway. The No. 55 Mustang FR500C of Joe Foster and Scott Maxwell...
This Week in Ford Racing
Two Ford Mustang FR500C teams lead the Grand-Am KONI Challenge championship standings heading into this weekend's season finale at Virginia International Raceway. The No. 55 Mustang FR500C of Joe Foster and Scott Maxwell are in first place and hold a one-point lead over the No. 37 of James Gue and Bret Seafuse. With the top four teams within nine points of each other, the finale should provide a wild finish to a great season.
SCOTT MAXWELL - No. 55 Hyper Sport Ford Mustang FR500C
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS GOING INTO THIS WEEKEND? "It all comes down to the last race between I think four different combinations of teams and drivers. I guess we have a bit of an edge because we are in the points lead, but it's so tight that we're just approaching it like any other race - to be aggressive and go for the win rather than watching the championship and seeing what happens."
YOU HOLD A ONE-POINT LEAD OVER THE SECOND-PLACE TEAM AND A THREE-POINT LEAD OVER THE THIRD-PLACE TEAM. THE FOURTH-PLACE TEAM IS ONLY NINE POINTS BACK. DO YOU JUST LOOK AT IT LIKE IT'S A FOUR-WAY TIE GOING INTO THE FINAL RACE? "Yeah. I consider it a tie because, really, it's whoever's ahead at the end of the race between all of those cars. So if you sit back and try to get fancy or place too much strategy then you're going to blow it. Again, I tend to lean towards just going for it and being aggressive. If you win the race it'll take care of itself."
IF THERE ARE JUST TWO CARS ALIVE AT THE FINAL RACE, IT'S EASY TO PAY ATTENTION TO WHERE THEY OTHER CAR IS. BUT WITH SO MANY STILL ALIVE IN THIS RACE, WILL THAT BE TOO HARD TO DO? "You're definitely aware of the three or four cars that are in the points hunt. That sort of started at Salt Lake where we were actually following what was going on with them as well. It doesn't change the way that I race at all. This is a long race, but if it got down to the last hour and we were behind or we had a big lead, then you would certainly change your approach or go conservative to get the car home or put on a big push if you have to. Generally, my approach to the race wouldn't change at all."
WHAT WOULD IT MEAN FOR YOU IF YOUR TEAM WAS ABLE TO HOLD ONTO THE TOP SPOT? "It would mean a lot, especially for Hyper Sport. I joined them about two years ago and they've never won a major championship before. For them and Joe Foster, they work so hard. Joe put's his whole life into this. I think for Joe it would mean a lot. Joe's a good friend of mine now and I'd just like to see him rewarded. Also, the guys at Multimatic. They've built all the cars over the years and it's been a couple of years since we've won a championship so it would mean a lot for them as well.
YOUR TEAM FINISHED FIFTH IN THIS RACE LAST YEAR. WILL THAT BOOST YOUR CONFIDENCE FOR THIS WEEKEND? "VIR has always been a pretty strong race for us and we had a good race going last year and had a broken sway bar. I know we were battling for the lead in the first three or four hours and then we faded in the last hour or so. Personally, I like VIR. It's a fun track to drive. It's very challenging. We also seem to have a good working setup for the Mustang there. I anticipate that we'll be quite competitive."
JAMES GUE - No. 37 JBS Motorsports Ford Mustang FR500C
A LOT OF THINGS CAN HAPPEN THIS WEEKEND WITH SO MANY TEAMS STILL IN IT. "Obviously, it's exciting going into the last race. Even last year we had an outside shot near the end of the year. This year, we've been a contender all year. The last couple of races we've had a little bit of bad luck but we've been very strong, especially relative to the other guys that are around us in the championship. I'm very optimistic heading into the last race. We're just going to continue doing what we've been doing all season. We always go to the track looking to win. If we can win, then the rest will take car of itself."
YOUR TEAM CAME AWAY FROM VIR WITH A TOP-10 LAST YEAR. WILL PAST EXPERIENCE BE OF ANY HELP AT ALL OR WILL IT MATTER MORE WHAT THE CAR IS LIKE WHEN YOU UNLOAD? "Two years ago we were extremely quick and led for awhile. Last year, Bret [Seafuse] got in an accident in the first 15 minutes of the race and we went a lap down. We had quite a bit of damage to the car and even with that, we were able to fight, get our lap back and get right back up to the top five. We've got a very good setup for VIR. Every time we've been there we've always been in the top five and I wouldn't expect anything less this time either."
WILL YOU BE PAYING ANY ATTENTION TO WHERE THE OTHER CARS IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP RACE ARE DURING THE RACE, OR WILL YOU JUST FOCUS ON YOU? "Certainly, you'll have an idea in your head of where you need to finish. Honestly, if we are in the top five then all we have to worry about is the 55 car. If we're outside of the top five, then we've probably had some issues or some troubles during the race and we're going to have bigger things to worry about. If we continue to just do what we've been doing all year then I know we'll be strong at VIR. Knock on wood, if we stay out of trouble then we should be there at the end. Obviously, I know where we need to stand relative to the 55 car, but I think the other guys will sort of take care of themselves."
YOUR TEAM HAS A TOP-10 FINISH IN EVERY RACE BUT TWO THIS SEASON. WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE THAT CONSISTENCY TO? "I think it's experience. For myself, it's my fourth year in the Mustang in the KONI Challenge Series and obviously Bret's been doing it for the same amount of time. In all the series that I've run - this is actually, I think, one of the more difficult series to win the championship in because it's so difficult to be consistent. There's so many cars and you really have to know when to back off and say, 'Okay, it's not a good time to push here,' because you'll get caught up in somebody else's accident. You obviously need to know when to push, setting up the car for long runs. Being very familiar with the Mustang, I think Bret and I have a very good handle on how we need to set it up to optimize it over a long race. I think we've just been smart about staying out of trouble and not putting ourselves in a position where we could get caught up in somebody else's accident."
WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO YOU AND THE TEAM TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP "If we could come out of this weekend as the KONI Challenge champions that would be huge. Especially considering where the team has come from and the sort of funding that's behind the team relative to the other guys that we're racing against. It just shows you that being smart and spending the dollars in the right spot and the right places - it just shows that you don't need a huge flashy trailer and a huge budget to do well. You just need to be smart about it. It would mean a huge amount to me. For the entire team, it would be a great accomplishment."
-credit: ford racing