EMPRINGHAM CLINCHES THE GRAND-AM CUP SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP AND FORD TAKES HOME THE MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP It was a banner day for Ford Racing on Saturday at Virginia International Raceway as David Empringham clinched the 2005 Grand-Am Cup ...
EMPRINGHAM CLINCHES THE GRAND-AM CUP SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP AND FORD TAKES HOME THE MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
It was a banner day for Ford Racing on Saturday at Virginia International Raceway as David Empringham clinched the 2005 Grand-Am Cup Series driver's championship with his third-place finish in the Grand-Am Cup 200, and a Mustang victory secured the manufacturer's championship for Ford. The Blackforest Motorsports No. 5 Mustang FR500C co-driven by Tom Nastasi and Ian James took the checkered flag for second time this season, adding to their season-opening victory at Daytona in February, while the No. 05 Multimatic Motorsports Mustang FR500C crossed the line in third place. In addition to the driver's championship, Multimatic Motorsports also clinched the team championship with the No. 05 Mustang that was driven by David Empringham and Scott Maxwell.
In just its first year of competition, the Mustang FR500C was driven to a series-high five victories that included a win in its race debut at Daytona in February. The Ford Racing Mustang FR500C was developed by Ford Racing Technology and is available through Ford Racing Performance Parts as a complete "ready-to-race" package for the Grand-Am Cup Series.
Manufacturer Championship Tidbits
* Ford won the Grand-Am Cup manufacturer's championship in its first season with the Mustang FR500C.
* Ford accumulated 357 points this season with six drivers contributing.
* Ford captured five wins this season, compared to BMW's five and Nissan's one.
* Ford drivers who have won races in 2005: Empringham (3), Jeannette (2), Maxwell (2), James (2), Nastasi (2), Gue (1).
* Ford had only one finish outside the top three throughout the 10-race season.
* Ford driver David Empringham won Ford's first Grand-Am Cup Series driver's championship.
* Ford-backed Multimatic Motorsports won Ford's first Grand-Am Cup Series team championship.
* Ford Mustang FR500C was driven to victory in its race debut at Daytona in February.
* Ford equaled the season-high win mark in the Grand-Am Cup Series with five victories.
* Ford had six drivers win races in 2005, the most of any manufacturer in the series.
* Ford had three drivers place in the top five in the final point standings (Empringham, 1st; Maxwell, 2nd; James/Natasi, 5th)
Ford drivers who scored manufacturer points this season:
David Empringham: 164 points (five races)
Scott Maxwell: 129 points (four races)
Gunnar Jeannette: 128 points (four races)
Ian James: 100 points (three races)
Tom Nastasi: 100 points (three races)
James Gue: 93 points (three races)
TOM NASTASI-5-Blackforest Motorsports Ford Mustang (Finished 1st)
HOW DIFFICULT WERE THE TRACK CONDITIONS TODAY WITH THE RAIN? "I love driving in the rain, and I hoped it would rain the entire time. I drove the first stint and just kept the car on course, so that Ian could get in it and bring it home for us. He did that today and we just had a powerful Mustang today. It's amazing that we were able to win the first race of the season and cap off the season with a victory here today."
IAN JAMES-5-Blackforest Motorsports Ford Mustang (Finished 1st)
"I'm really happy. The Ford ran really strong today. Tom got at it and had fun for a little while there and put me in the car in a good position. We really never had a challenge at all; it was fun."
DID THE NUMBER OF LATE CAUTION FLAGS HELP YOU WITH YOUR STRATEGY TODAY? "It may have helped us in our fuel strategy, but at one point we had a 20-second lead and we had to give that all up. It's tough when you have restarts in these types of conditions and everybody gets bunched up, but we had a strong Mustang today."
DID YOU THINK YOU HAD THE CAR TO BEAT WHEN YOU TOOK OVER DRIVING DUTIES? "It's tough when you get in the car and you're near the back when everybody pitted before us, but I knew after two laps that we had a strong car and that we could challenge for the lead. It's just great that we were the ones that were able to deliver Ford the manufacturer championship."
YOU WON THE SEASON-OPENER AT DAYTONA AS WELL AS THE SERIES FINALE TODAY. COULD YOU THINK OF TWO BETTER RACES TO WIN? "No, this is the greatest way to get our second win. We got Ford's first win of the season and got their last to help clinch the manufacture's championship. It's nice to know that we were a critical part in winning any championship. This leads us into 2006 in a great frame of mind."
SCOTT MAXWELL-05-Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang (Finished 3rd)
"We didn't have the car to win today, but it was a good car and it got us not only the team championship, but David was able to clinch the driver's championship. The Blackforest guys had the Mustang to beat today, and our main objective was to win the driver, team and manufacturer championships, which we did."
WAS THE RAIN THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE TODAY? "It was the hardest thing for everyone today. The conditions were definitely slick out there and you just needed to try to keep your line. It made it tough to pass out there, but we knew we had a car that was good enough to run up front as long and we didn't get off course."
DAVID EMPRINGHAM-05-Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang (Finished 3rd)
"We had a great year, and Scotty and I have certainly enjoyed racing together. We got the championship; I wish we could be co-champions but it's a little bit of a points problem there. Multimatic won the team championship and Ford the manufacturer, and it couldn't be better."
WILL YOU BE BACK NEXT YEAR TO DEFEND YOUR TITLE? "I certainly hope so."
PUT THIS CHAMPIONSHIP IN PERSPECTIVE WITH YOUR OTHER RACING ACCOMPLISHMENTS? "To put it in perspective, I'm 41 years old and I'm still able to race, and won with one of my best friends. It's been quite a season and we've overcome a lot, and to bring Ford and Multimactic the championship in the first year with the new Mustang is quite an accomplishment."
DID YOU THINK YOU HAD A CAR TO WIN THE RACE TODAY? "We didn't have the car to win, but we knew going into this what we needed to do to win the championship and we were able to do that today. We drove a conservative race knowing that the No.96 withdrew before the start of the race, but we still wanted to finish off the season on a strong note."
DAN DAVIS, Director, Ford Racing Technology
"We finished the season the same way we started it, with a Mustang in victory lane. From winning the first race of the season in Daytona, following it up with four more wins and capping off the season with the Grand-Am Cup driver, manufacturer and team championships is just an incredible accomplishment by everyone involved. It has always been said that Mustang was made for racing - and once again, it has proven true."
"This championship is a great tribute to all of the hard work developing the car by our guys in Dearborn and the Multimatic team who worked with us every step of the way. When we started this program our goal was to build and sell identical Mustangs that people could win with and I think we proved that this year by having six different drivers take the checkered flag in a Mustang."
LARRY HOLT, Multimatic Technical Director/Vice President of Engineering
YOU MANAGED TO WIN THE DRIVER, TEAM AND MANUFACTURER CHAMPIONSHIPS TODAY. "This was a hell of a day. I just told Dave (Empringham) at the end that the Pumpelly Porsche was coming at him. I said, 'You know what, that doesn't mean anything, just don't wreck this thing.' He did a great job, and Scotty, obviously, at the beginning of it did a great job. We had some problems early this morning in qualifying and these guys had nothing to do with it, we messed, so this was a driver's day. It was great. A customer won, so that was cool, too. That helped with the championship for Ford, so we got it all."
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FOR NEXT YEAR? "I'm not sure yet, but I would imagine that either myself or a customer is going to be doing well in this series."