Freedom Autosport Leads at Mid-Ohio Before Setbacks LEXINGTON, Ohio--With victory in their sights, Freedom Autosport had a disappointing turn of events at Mid-Ohio when a late-race mechanical problem dropped the No. 25 Mazda MX-5 out of ...
Freedom Autosport Leads at Mid-Ohio Before Setbacks
LEXINGTON, Ohio--With victory in their sights, Freedom Autosport had a disappointing turn of events at Mid-Ohio when a late-race mechanical problem dropped the No. 25 Mazda MX-5 out of contention. Still, round seven of the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series proved that the team has the speed and strategy necessary in the Street Tuner class.
Tom Long and Derek Whitis finished seventh at Watkins Glen in the No. 25 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5, and they went to Mid-Ohio with plenty of confidence. The team's prior successes there, coupled with a recent test, gave them a proven setup.
During a caution period early in the race, Freedom Autosport took a gamble by bringing the No. 25 Mazda in for a pit stop. The team knew that several caution periods were likely, which would allow them to conserve fuel and make it to the end without pitting a second time.
The pit strategy was paying off as Long worked his way up to first and stayed there while other teams had to pit. Unfortunately, with just fifteen minutes to go and while still running near the front, a broken crank pulley ended hopes of another win. Long pitted with overheating and other issues resulting from the mechanical failure. He and Whitis finished 24th.
"We were able to run up front thanks to great pit strategy by the guys. The crew worked so hard this weekend, and it would have been nice to give them a win," says Whitis.
"We knew the pit strategy was a gamble, but when we got that early caution, we decided to go for it," says Long. "We would have made it to the finish on fuel, but we just couldn't keep it together. We have a good history at New Jersey, so hopefully the next race there will be our turning point."
Rhett O'Doski and Andrew Carbonell were having a solid run, as well, driving the No. 26 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5. As the race neared its end, Carbonell was holding down sixth.
With only a handful of laps remaining, a clutch problem forced Carbonell to drive conservatively. He crossed the finish line in 12th. "It was really difficult because it happened right after a restart, and there were no gaps in the field," says Carbonell, who ran the remainder of the race in fourth gear. "It's disappointing after working so hard during the whole race."
Freedom Autosport dedicated their 2.5-hour race to David Wayne LaConte, a retired Navy Seal who was killed in Afghanistan in November of 2009. The race will air on SPEED at 1:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 26.
-source: freedom autosport