DANVILLE, VA- (October 5, 2009) -- Ken Wilden of Oakville, Ontario, won the 2009 Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge Grand Sports Championship on Sunday with his run to 6th place in the Bosch Engineering Octoberfest at Virginia International ...
DANVILLE, VA- (October 5, 2009) -- Ken Wilden of Oakville, Ontario, won the 2009 Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge Grand Sports Championship on Sunday with his run to 6th place in the Bosch Engineering Octoberfest at Virginia International Raceway.
Wilden started the race from pole position, and the No. 59 Ford Mustang stayed in the lead pack throughout the full four-hour race distance as he shared the driving duties with Dean Martin in the No. 59 Rehaganracingproducts.com Ford Mustang FR500C. The duo employed a different pit strategy than the rest of the field to ensure that the points payout would work for the championship, but were on the same page as the leaders in the final segments of the race.
With the front end of the 55-car field all fighting for a final shot at the podium in the hectic closing moments of the endurance race, Wilden played it smart as he brought the Mustang home in sixth place to close out the year and lock up the drivers championship as well as scoring the Team Championship honors for Rehagan Racing.
The KONI Championship is Wilden's fourth career championship, having won the GM/Players Championship twice before taking the Motorola Cup (which later became the KONI Challenge) title in 1994.
"It is a huge relief!" said Wilden, who has held the title lead since March. "Our goal was to show that Rehagan Racing is a championship team and we did exactly that. My hat is off to Larry Rehagen and to Dean Martin, I owe it all to them. The Mustang was flawless all year long, we didn't have a single problem in all the hours of hard racing that we did all year long and as you can tell with how close the margin was in the points, that's really important. This series is so competitive, you have to be fast and strong every time out."
The championship relief was one that was relished by Wilden and the entire crew as the champagne began to spray at Virginia International Raceway.
"It's been a long ten months! This is a really tight year for us and for Rehagen financially, and they really stepped up for me to come in here and show what we could do," Wilden continued as he was greeted by his family in victory circle. "Running with Dean is fantastic and I'm really happy that we were also able to bring the team championship for the No. 59. Hats off to the crew, one of the best pit teams in the paddock. The car was flawless all year. We did not have one failure, and we didn't replace one body panel all year. I'm very happy and very pleased."
Wilden will get his hands on the hardware next week at the KONI Challenge banquet, and will be on hand for the Rolex Sports Car Series season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway as he relishes the payoff from a long hard season of racing.