One Stevenson Motorsports Sunoco Camaro Finishes On The Podium While Another Finishes Behind The Wall The Stevenson Motorsports Sunoco-Camaro GS.R team looked to improve their record of results for both team cars coming into the GRAND-AM ...
One Stevenson Motorsports Sunoco Camaro Finishes On The Podium While Another Finishes Behind The Wall
The Stevenson Motorsports Sunoco-Camaro GS.R team looked to improve their record of results for both team cars coming into the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series event, the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres this past weekend. In the end, only the No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports Sunoco-Camaro GS.R, driven by Matt Bell and Jeff Bucknum, was able to secure a podium placing. The No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Sunoco-Camaro GS.R, driven by Hugh Plumb and Al Carter, finished in 15th place when the engine let go as the end of the race grew closer.
Team Manager Mike Johnson tells the story of the one day race 'weekend'. "The team felt very good going into Three Rivers - especially since Matt won there last year - and our cars have been very strong recently. Unfortunately, we crashed the 6 car early in the first practice and the 9 early in the second practice, and with this being a one day event that meant the team had to work very hard to get everything straight for qualifying.
"While our qualifying effort was not our best of the year, we were solidly in the field and we knew we would have great cars for the race. With about 90 minutes to go everyone came in and changed drivers and then we had another yellow with 60 minutes to go. We were two of the few cars who came in for fuel. This stop worked out great as the other teams ran out of gas in the last few minutes. That gave the No. 6 car another podium finish.
"The strategy was right on for the No. 9 car as well," Johnson continued, "but the motor let go with no warning and we wound up finishing the third straight race with the car behind the wall. While the team will have a lot of repairs to make back at the shop, we will also have new engines installed for the last race at Miller."
Hugh Plumb summed up the team's Canadian experience this way: "It was an extremely unfortunate weekend for the No. 9 Stevenson Camaro, given that Al Carter did an amazing job qualifying after very few laps. With very limited time to look at data, it was great to see Al nearly get the car into the top ten.
"Al put together a string of very competitive lap times," Plumb noted. "He was matching the times of the cars running in the front. He continues to impress me every time he gets in the car and he keeps the car clean which is even more remarkable given the limited amount of time he actually has behind the wheel. Unfortunately the spate of suspect circumstances that has hounded the No. 9 car this season again took center stage when the engine decided it did not want to keep working.
Plumb continued recounting the unfortunate end for him and Carter: "The second full course yellow dropped at an opportune time for us to make a pit stop and driver change. The crew did an amazing job to get us in and fueled and back out again. We were on pace with the leaders of the race and actually turned the fastest race lap of the field up to that point."
"I knew that if I could stay out of trouble and keep this pace," Plumb noted, "that we were going to finish very well. However, as I was entering turn one I felt a vibration, heard a loud noise, and then the engine simply let go. That was it. I knew right then that our day was done. We had all the pieces in place and the crew had prepared a great car, but it just wasn't our day. My heartfelt thanks go to our crew guys Mike and Greg and while we had a good strategy, we just couldn't capitalize on it."
Jeff Bucknum expressed his sympathy for Plumb and Carter when he said, "I am really sad for Al Carter, Hugh Plumb and the whole Sunoco Camaro No. 9 team as they were having a great race and if they would not have had the mechanical problem I am sure they would have finished in 3rd and we probably would have finished 4th. "
While Bucknum felt bad for his teammates misfortune, he took great solace in the manner in which the fortunes turned for him and Matt Bell.
"What a crazy day of racing for our No. 6 Car." Bucknum said. "Unfortunately we had a rough start to the morning on our one day event. Matt went out in the first morning practice session and he was quickly up to speed posting fast lap times right away. Racing is a crazy sport because Matt made the smallest of errors coming out of a corner and slid into the wall damaging the right side of the car. Unfortunately before he could make it back to the pits the steering arm broke which sent him into another wall that crashed up the other side of the car. Needless to say the Stevenson Sunoco Camaro crew guys jumped on getting the car fixed as quickly as possible. They did the impossible and got the car back together before qualifying."
With the delay for repairs, Bucknum had to wait for an opportunity to turn laps.
"The unfortunate part of the accident for me is that I never got the chance to drive the car even once before the race."
His dismay soon dissipated when Matt Bell took off at the start giving the entire Stevenson crew cause for thinking this one day of racing could become a very good day of racing.
Bucknum: "Matt did a great job to qualify the car in 9th position which was an amazing accomplishment when you consider we didn't even know if we would make the show. Then, at the start of the race, Matt did a great job of moving up through the field and staying out of trouble to hand off the car to me in good condition. Fortunately I was able to get in the car under a full course caution situation which allowed me to get a couple of laps in the car to at least look at the track before I had to run laps in anger.
"After the repairs, I would not say the car was back to being perfect, but Grant, Donnie, Adrian, and all the other crew guys did an amazing job to give us a solid and safe race car. I have to say my engineer Greg Jones was amazing on the radio. He was the calm, level headed person who kept me under control when I needed to be calm and the motivator when I needed to be aggressive."
Aggression soon transformed itself into a dose of racing luck.
"With only two laps to go I was in 6th place." Bucknum said. "With Greg's motivation and the great consistency the Camaro gives us with brakes and tires over long runs, I was able to move into 4th. With one lap to go I was able to make a pass in turn two on the third place car giving us the last step on the podium. I am telling you a 3rd place finish for our team was more like a WIN."
The last race on the 2010 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series schedule will be held at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah on Saturday, September 11th.
-source: stevenson motorsports