Skavnes, Hemmingson Play Pit Strategy to Perfection in Sunday's KONI Challenge ST Race at Mid-Ohio LEXINGTON, Ohio (June 24, 2007) -- Returning after a one-race hiatus, the No. 111 ICY/Phoenix Racing Subaru/Rotary/SPT Subaru Legacy and drivers...
Skavnes, Hemmingson Play Pit Strategy to Perfection in Sunday's KONI Challenge ST Race at Mid-Ohio
LEXINGTON, Ohio (June 24, 2007) -- Returning after a one-race hiatus, the No. 111 ICY/Phoenix Racing Subaru/Rotary/SPT Subaru Legacy and drivers Kristian Skavnes and Chuck Hemmingson played pit strategy to perfection in recording their second Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Street Tuner (ST) victory of the season in Sunday's two-and-a-half hour race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Following a strong surge midway through the race, Skavnes went from fourth to first in three laps, passing Bob Beede in the No. 29 Bill Fenton Motorsports Acura RSX-S on Lap 50 and cruising to a 1.191-second advantage over No. 69 SpeedSource Mondial Forwarding/Freedom Harley-Davidson Mazda RX-8 driver David Haskell in the race, which completed 81 circuits. The winning team gambled on a one-stop pit strategy, with the fuel lights flickering during the final five minutes of competition.
It marks the second overall KONI Challenge Series victory for Subaru, which is in its first season of KONI Challenge competition. Hemmingson battled his way to the lead for 11 laps prior to handing the Subaru off to Skavnes on Lap 38. Skavnes dropped out of the top five before staging his comeback through the field, and has now teamed with Hemmingson to win two of the last three races. The team missed last weekend's race at Mosport International Raceway.
"We did a one-stop strategy, so we ran it as long as we could the first time," Skavnes said. "Then, we played fuel conservation right at the end. Actually, our team car (No. 141 of Davy Jones, who was running 10th and finished 12th) ran out of gas at the white flag, and I was worried that our car was not going to make it. Right after I got the checkered flag, the car started stumbling around on the final lap. I was hoping the Mazda was having the same issue, that we were trying to save as much fuel as possible. We won at Lime Rock, and this is great. Our guys set up our all-wheel drive Subaru so that it handled beautifully. It was neutral the whole time. The handling never left it was just the fuel that was leaving."
Hemmingson said his stint was a little less adventurous.
"My shift went great," Hemmingson said. "I had a real good time, racing some good cars. Our car was awesome the whole time. The Subaru all-wheel drive is such a beautiful car to drive."
Haskell, the team manager for the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 that finished second in the GT race, piloted the car with Jose Armengol.
"When I got in, we were 10th, and then we went back to around 13th when we pitted," Haskell said. "They were telling me on the radio; I was just driving it as hard as I could. I was just trying to get to the end. Finally, we got the top four cars in sight, and picked them off one at a time. That Subaru is fast. Kris did a good job. We tried everything we had. We hoped he'd run out of gas, but that's alright. We were so equal. That was all I could do. It's awesome to come here and finish twice in one day"
Armengol, who closed to within 10 points of the lead, had to weave his way through traffic after qualifying 18th.
"Unfortunately, I did not get a good qualifying result and that put us in a position where we had to make up a lot of positions," Armengol said. "I was fortunate to stay out of trouble, and kept the car in decent shape. I turned it over to David, and he did an incredible job. It's all about the team. SpeedSource puts together a fantastic effort, top to bottom, and I can't say enough about David's incredible driving job, coming from well back to the podium. We're very close to a win."
Nick Wittmer and Glenn Bocchino in the No. 31 i-MOTO Racing Acura/Cobalt Friction Acura TSX rounded out the podium with a third-place finish. Wittmer began catching Skavnes near the end of the race, but didn't have enough to catch Skavnes unless he ran out of fuel.
"The car was super dialed out," Wittmer said. "From start to finish, the car didn't even change at all. It was a perfect qualified car from start to finish. Every lap was A-1 perfect. The tires held up perfect. The only thing, my brakes were out since I got in the car. I think I was driving with only rear brakes. I was driving with the tranny down-braking. The tranny's gone, a whole bunch of stuff is gone, but I made it to the end. Awesome."
Guy Cosmo, who competed in Saturday's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Daytona Prototype race, drove to fourth with VJ Mirzayan in the No. 127 Fountain Motorsports BMW 330i. For the Iowa Speedway winner Cosmo, it was his fifth straight top-six finish.
Jorge Leroux, co-driving the No. 174 LRT Racing Mobil I/Durex Condoms Acura TSX with Juan Leroux, took fifth on the final lap from No. 01 Georgian Bay Motorsports SCADAPack Chevrolet Cobalt driver Eric Curran. Jorge took over from Juan after Juan led three laps.
A second-lap incident between the top two point contenders forced both to finish well down in the finishing order. Trevor Hopwood in the No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW 330i and Karl Thomson in the No. 76 Kensai Racing Compass360.com/Skunk2/Hawk Brakes Acura TSX made contact in the Keyhole -- Turn 2 -- which set Hopwood into the gravel. A disabled steering unit on the Acura and multiple problems with the BMW sent both cars in the pits. Adam Burrows drove the BMW to 22nd, while Billy Johnson took the Acura to 29th. The point lead now stands at eight (173-165).
Thomson and Johnson's No. 75 Kensai Racing Compass360.com/Skunk2/Hawk Brakes Acura TSX teammates Beau Buisson and Aaron Povoledo didn't fare much better, as Buisson pulled the car off after completing 54 laps. Povoledo's fellow front row starter, polesitter Tyler Givogue, finished 27th in the No. 53 Predator Auto Sport Chevrolet Cobalt he drove with Kuno Wittmer.
No. 48 Team Cobalt California Chevrolet Cobalt co-driver Jeff Lepper slammed the guardrail in Turn 1 midway through the race, bringing out a lengthy caution. Lepper was transported by ambulance to MedCentral/Mansfield Hospital for precautionary X-rays.
The KONI Challenge Series ST and Grand Sport (GS) divisions will return to action July 5-7 at Watkins Glen International.