RAIN, CONTACT AND PROGRESS AT MID-OHIO FOR C360R Mansfield, OH -- Christian Miller scored his fourth consecutive sixth- place finish at Mid-Ohio, keeping his championship hopes alive amid a rather forgettable weekend for the Compass360 Racing ...
RAIN, CONTACT AND PROGRESS AT MID-OHIO FOR C360R
Mansfield, OH -- Christian Miller scored his fourth consecutive sixth- place finish at Mid-Ohio, keeping his championship hopes alive amid a rather forgettable weekend for the Compass360 Racing team.
With two cars having been written off at the last two race meetings (the #76 Honda Civic Si at Lime Rock and the #75 Acura TSX at Mosport), the team brought last year's Acura RSX-S out of retirement for Miller and co-driver Travis Walker, and arranged for Kevin York to drive in a BMW with Fountain Motorsports (numbered 75 to try and keep some team points) alongside Marko Radisic.
The team's #73 Pure Hair and Body Care TSX promised to improve with the efforts of Jeremy Willard and Kenny Wilden at the helm, while last- year's ST champs Adam Burrows and Trevor Hopwood were very strong in the #74 Fischer Skis / Sunday Group TSX. As at Mosport, Team Principal Karl Thomson sat the event out, waiting for the return of the team's new Civic.
Practice and qualifying proved all four cars to be strong, the highlight being Adam Burrows' stellar job of claiming the outside pole for the race against very strong competition from the forced induction cars (Burrows TSX was the only normally-aspirated car in the top six).
Meanwhile, Walker had to return to Toronto for a family matter, and the team drafted Thomson's 2007 co-driver Billy Johnson to take the second stint in the #76 Compass360 Advertising / Skunk2 RSX-S.
"It's been a remarkable month," noted Thomson. "I keep looking at (Daytona Prototype team) Wayne Taylor Racing and thinking, 'wow they have rotten luck,' but I don't think ours has been much better! But like Wayne's crew, our guys just keep digging deeper and deeper and giving us the best equipment come race day."
At the start, the team had cars at the beginning and end of the field, Burrows taking the flag and pressuring Owen Trinkler in his pole- sitting Mini for much of his stint. At the back of the pack, York's time in the BMW was short-lived, with the u-joint giving out on the opening lap in spectacular style, blowing a huge hole in the transmission tube and ending the day's race early for #75.
"I have to thank Karl and the Compass360 crew for doing their best to get me into another car after the wreck at Mosport," said York. "We didn't have a great race, but we did do a great job for our sponsor Harper Collins, getting the fans excited about the book 'The Art of Racing in the Rain', which was appropriately titled for today's event!"
On track, while Burrows kept after the first-place Mini, Christian Miller and Jeremy Willard moved up through the field during the first hour, which was remarkably caution-free. Half-way into his stint, Willard was hit from behind by one of the Mazda RX-8s, which compromised the handling of his #73 TSX. Regardless, he soldiered on, while the car that hit him retired with massive front end damage.
At the one-hour mark, Burrows reported trouble in the left rear of the #74 car, and the team called him to the pits. They did a driver change, putting Hopwood in the car, and changed the left rear tire. Hopwood knew there might still be an issue, and was able to keep the car on track when the left rear hub finally sheared off, sending the rim and tire sailing off into the forest. "When Trevor went out, the entire hub assembly came apart," remarked Burrows. "Trevor did an excellent job to keep it on the track and and get the car back in to the pits for repairs. I have to thank (Car Chief) Ivan Ceccato for the job he did getting the entire left rear fixed and getting us out in time to get some points."
And then the rain came. With the track becoming slicker by the minute, Miller in the #76 was called in to change drivers and switch to wet tires. Johnson was in and away, with Willard pitting for tires but electing to stay out to gain some valuable on-track experience in the rain at Mid-Ohio.
Johnson worked to stay with the leaders, and did a fine job to bring the RSX-S home in sixth place. It's the fourth sixth-place in succession for Christian, and keeps him in the Championship hunt, in fifth, just a few points behind Peter Cunningham. Adam and Trevor drop to tenth place, but they are still within fighting distance considering that the series has only completed four of ten races this year. Jeremy and Kenny finished 25th, which wasn't indicative of their pace all weekend. Jeremy, especially, is impressing in his first year of pro racing, and the team is looking forward to seeing them in the top-ten soon, as long as they don't get wrecked from behind!