Bill Fenton Motorsports Team Gives Honda Civic 1st Win in Wild New Jersey Race Matt Plumb and Bob Beede, driving the ...
Bill Fenton Motorsports Team Gives Honda Civic 1st Win in Wild New Jersey Race
Matt Plumb and Bob Beede, driving the #29 Bill Fenton Motorsports Honda Certified Used Cars/Southern Auto Auction Honda Civic Si, won the inaugural 2 ½-hour pro race at the recently-completed New Jersey Motorsports Park.
The win, in the Grand-Am Koni Challenge series, is the first in American professional sports car racing for the 2008 Honda Civic Si.
In an exciting race filled with spectacular off-track excursions and numerous laps behind the safety car, a factor which altered team tactics, Bill Fenton Motorsports utilized a combination of pit strategy and great driving by Beede and Plumb to take the checkered flag by less than 0.4 seconds ahead of the points-leading Georgian Bay Chevy Cobalt Turbo of Jamie Holtom.
Beede qualified the car seventh quickest in a competitive 40-car field, and moved up to fifth in the early going. Caution laps started early and crew chief Steve Wheeler decided to pit the car well ahead of its normal fuel window. Steve gambled that more caution periods would extend his fuel window and the team could pick up some valuable track position with the early stop.
Matt Plumb took over the cockpit on lap 18, when a lengthy caution came out to repair damage to the Armco on the outside of the front straight. Two subsequent re-starts to the race resulted in more crashes by over-anxious drivers, further extending the number of laps behind the safety car. During the caution, the Street Tuner class leader Glen Bocchino, (Acura TSX), and second place runner Stuart Robinson (Mazda RX-8) both pitted, giving the Fenton Motorsports team the lead on lap 46.
Following the caution, Plumb led every lap to the finish, defending hard charges from Holtom and from Kris Skavnes in a Subaru (Legacy Turbo).
David Thilenius and Bret Spaude qualified 19th in the #27 Honda Certified Used Cars/Southern Auto Auction Civic Si, and raced as high as eighth. The caution sequence and traffic gave David and Bret a tough race but they ran clean and finished 16th.
From the podium Bob Beede commented, "Wow, to come into this race starting seventh and end up with a win! What a great call by Steve Wheeler on the pit stop timing and an unbelievable job by my co-driver Matt Plumb to hang onto the lead despite constant challenges for the last 20 laps. Thanks to Matt, Steve, Bill Fenton and all the crew for getting us here!"
Plumb added, "The pit call Steve made really made the win possible, and thanks to Jamie Holtom for running a good clean race. As always, it was a pleasure driving with the Bill Fenton Motorsports team. Thanks to Steve and the crew for preparing a great car and executing a brilliant pit stop."
Bill Fenton commented "Thanks to all the crew for a great race. We are really happy to be the first Grand-Am team to win a Koni Challenge for Honda in the new Civic Si. Steve made the right pit call and Matt did a fantastic job to take advantage of the track position and bring home the win. Also I really want to congratulate David Thilenius and Bret Spaude who drove a great race in their Honda Civic 4-door."
The win at NJMP moves Bill Fenton Motorsports to 2nd in Team Championship points and Beede to fourth in Driver Championship points.