Maxwell, Foster Earn First Grand-Am KONI Challenge Victory of 2007 at Mosport International Raceway BOWMANVILLE, Ontario, Canada (June 16, 2007) -- Canadian Scott Maxwell scored a home track victory Saturday and in the process gave ...
Maxwell, Foster Earn First Grand-Am KONI Challenge Victory of 2007 at Mosport International Raceway
BOWMANVILLE, Ontario, Canada (June 16, 2007) -- Canadian Scott Maxwell scored a home track victory Saturday and in the process gave himself, co-driver Joe Foster and the entire No. 55 Hyper Sport Supercuts Ford Mustang GT their first Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport (GS) victory of 2007, convincingly winning the Mosport 400k at Mosport International Raceway.
Maxwell, of Toronto, led the final 15 laps of the two-and-a-half hour race, as the field finished under yellow during the day's only caution period. The 5.148-second advantage Maxwell held over fellow countryman Ken Wilden at the checkered flag was one of the smallest lead margins during the entire race, as Maxwell frequently led by more than 20 seconds and remained nearly unchallenged after taking the car over from Foster on Lap 46.
Maxwell, a former two-time series champion who has partnered with Foster in five of the six races this season, led for the first of two times when he passed Will Turner on Lap 57. From that point, Maxwell lost the lead only on the car's second pit stop and cruised until the yellow came out on Lap 92, when No. 39 TRG Carlsen Porsche/DigiTrust Group Porsche 997 of driver Grant Maiman slid off the track in Turn 8 and stopped in the gravel trap. Grand-Am officials had no choice but to throw the yellow and retrieve the car, and time ran out to get the race back underway.
"The Mustang was so good in the race," Maxwell said. "We struggled in practice but kept pushing and we never gave up. I was most worried about (Bill) Auberlen in the BMW, but something happened to them, and then the two other quick Mustangs with (Kenny) Wilden in the one and I guess Emp (David Empringham) had a bad pit stop or something. It has been a few years since I won in Canada, I think in the early 2000s when I last ran for a Grand-Am championship. It is great to win in front of the home crowd, the family is here and it is great for Hyper Sport and Dan Davis from Ford who is here as well. It's all good."
Foster was a top-five competitor during his opening stint, running high as third before pitting and turning the car over to Maxwell. Overall, it marked the first career series victory for Foster and the Hyper Sport team.
"We had hoped going into the weekend we would have the pace to lead and pushed it since we arrived here," said Foster, who extended his championship points lead to 18 over Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal. "The Porsches and BMWs seemed quicker but I think we won it on team consistency and the fact that Scott and I didn't miss a beat all day. Our team gave us great pit stops and we probably had the best average green flag lap times today. Sometimes it is not the fastest car that wins but the most consistent team and the one that doesn't make mistakes, and that was us today. It was a good day and we are still leading the points. I think about the championship every day and every day I tell myself not to think about it."
Wilden and co-driver Dean Martin were fast all afternoon and may have found themselves atop the podium had a post-qualifying technical inspection penalty not forced to start last on the grid. Martin set the morning qualifying session's third quick time, but that was disallowed when the car was found to be too light.
With a 28th-place starting position, Martin took the early stint and within the first half hour was already in the top 10. He handed the car over to his teammate following their pit stop, and Wilden at one point ran with Maxwell and Empringham as Canadians held the top three positions. But when Empringham pitted twice in a six-lap span, Wilden moved into second and was never challenged for the spot.
"A one-two Canadian finish is great," Wilden said. "Maxie (Maxwell) and I have been driving here for years and I love racing here. This is a momentum track and we had a great Mustang here for that and it was great. I think the last time I was on the podium at a Canadian race was at Toronto in 1999 when I was running in Atlantic with Michael Shank Racing. It is good to be back in victory lane in Canada."
No. 09 Automatic Racing Fresh From Florida/Imported Car Store BMW M3 co-drivers Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal continued their consistency and scored their second podium and fifth top-six this season with a third-place finish. Assured of at least a top-four, Segal benefited when James Gue stopped on the track during the white flag lap under caution while running third. The run also put Thornton and Segal into a two-way tie for second in points (153). Previously, they shared the position with Tom Nastasi (151).
"I saw the No. 37 Mustang come to a stop on the last lap and at that point we were pretty concerned ourselves about fuel," Segal said. "I just gave a little fist pump and said 'I hope we make it' and we did. It is good to get another podium and it is our second in the last four races."
Empringham and Nastasi, in the No. 5 Blackforest Motorsports USG Sheetrock/Ramset Tools Ford Mustang GT, were contenders all afternoon but bad luck caught up with them at the end. Nastasi ran a strong second during his stint and pitted the same lap as the winners. Empringham reentered the race fourth, and led Lap 79 when Maxwell pitted for the final time.
Empringham pitted two laps later, but was forced to come in six laps from the finish with a fuel pickup problem. He fell to fifth but rebounded when Gue fell out of the top five. Despite their result, Nastasi dropped into sole possession of fourth in the point standings after leading the championship following the season's first three races.
No. 38 BGB Motorsports Performance Drink Porsche 997 co-drivers Hugh Plumb and Craig Stanton also overcame an adverse situation to finish fifth. The team was late to the grid and started from last and from the pits, but Plumb moved to the top 10 during his stint, and Stanton solidly wheeled the car to the checkered flag.
Dave Riddle, co-driving the No. 25 Fiorano C-Max Racing Porsche 997 with Kris Wilson, was the only other Canadian in the top 10, as the pair finished ninth.
The No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 piloted by Turner and polesitter Don Salama dominated the early stages of the race, and were unchallenged through the first round of pit stops. Salama led the first 44 laps, and Turner another nine before bringing the car into the pits due to reports of smoke. An oil line had come loose, and the team elected to park the BMW, finishing 24th.
The No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 of Bill Auberlen and Chris Gleason also had an uncharacteristic retirement after running as high as fourth.