Grand Am Koni Challenge - Dramatic Season Finale in VIR 6 Hour Alpharetta, Ga - This past weekend, October 3rd-5th was the 10th round and final round of the Grand-Am Koni Challenge Series at Virginia International Raceway, located in Danville ...
Grand Am Koni Challenge - Dramatic Season Finale in VIR 6 Hour
Alpharetta, Ga - This past weekend, October 3rd-5th was the 10th round and final round of the Grand-Am Koni Challenge Series at Virginia International Raceway, located in Danville Virginia. It was a Grand Sport only race, and instead of the normal 2 hours 30 minutes time limit this was a 6 hour event. The JBS team entered this event second in points, trailing the #55 Hypersport car by only one point. James Gue shared the driving with Bret Seafuse in the #37 Mustang FR500C, while most teams elected to use 3 drivers for this event Gue and Seafuse decided to keep the same driver lineup.
After struggling through much of practice the team finally settled on a setup for the race that wasn't necessarily fastest over one lap but was quick over a long stint. With that said Seafuse managed to qualify in the 14th position out of 27 GS cars. Heading into the race the top 4 cars in the Championship were separated by only 8 points, this was one of the tightest points battles the series has seen in years. Going into the team was confident the car was going to race well. It was before the green flag flew that the JBS team encountered their first of many problems for the day. As Seafuse headed to the grid prior to the start he noticed a terrible vibration in the front of the car; the team quickly identified that the problem was a warped front brake rotor. While the team franticly changed the front brake rotors, they completed their work only seconds before the race started, which meant Seafuse would have to start from pit lane, or essentially 27th place. The #37 car was still on the lead lap and the problem appeared to be fixed. Seafuse started to work his way through the field, and after an hour and 20 minutes Seafuse pitted to turn the car over to Gue. For the next two hours Gue stayed in the car, and he too saw his fair share of problems; half way through his stint there was a caution so the team decided to take the opportunity to change front brake pads, but the two clips that hold the front pads in failed to do their job and when Gue returned to the track the brake pads turned in the brake caliper and were being held in by the wheel. Gue still had brakes but essentially only half of the pad was touching the brake rotor in addition to dragging on the inside of the wheel. Stopping to fix it would have meant that Gue would go down a lap so he elected to stay out till the next stop. The next stop could come soon enough, the crew went back to work on the next stop and replaced the pads again and had a great pit stop putting Gue well inside the top ten. Just when the JBS crew thought they were getting back into the race yet another setback came up, this time Gue was given a 1 minute penalty for running over an airline on the last stop. When the field returned to racing Gue had to come back to pitlane to serve his 1 minute penalty, and the #37 car fell back to the back of the field for the 4th time. Now with 2 hours left in the race Seafuse returned to the drivers seat, and continued where Gue left off fighting his way to the front and made his way back to the top ten. Just as Seafuse was coming to the end of his final stint he was hit by another competitor which resulted in the steering being bent. Gue got back in for the final hour of the race with the steering bent and in 12th place and the car they needed to beat for the championship was in 2nd place. However, with the odds stacked against him Gue was still determined win the championship. When the race returned to green Gue quickly realized that was going to be a tall order considering how the car was handling, but Gue was able to adapt and found himself moving up the field and was the quickest car on track while the #55 car was struggling and quickly falling down the order. Gue found himself in 6th position and Scott Maxwell in the #55 car was now in 4th place, with the #55 car in sight it seemed like it was only a matter of time before Gue caught him; however misfortune struck again and the engine lost a cylinder with 20 minutes to go in the race. All Gue could do was try and hang onto second in the championship as he watched the #55 car drive away. In the end the #37 JBS Mustang finished in ten position and second in the championship.
Gue commented: "What a day! There were so many ups and downs; I guess it just wasn't meant to be. After all that had happened and to still be right there for a shot at the championship was amazing, but then to have the engine let go when he was right there was just heart breaking. We did everything we could but just came up a little short. I really need to thank the whole crew for their hard work not only this weekend but all season. "
The race from Miller Motorsport Park will be televised on SPEED Channel October 12th at 11am.