Watkins Glen, NY (07.08.08): Byron Payne turned over a new stone in his racing career by running his first Grand Am Koni Challenge Race at Watkins Glen International Raceway this past weekend. Piloting the No. 127 ST-Class, BMW 330 entered by ...
Watkins Glen, NY (07.08.08): Byron Payne turned over a new stone in his racing career by running his first Grand Am Koni Challenge Race at Watkins Glen International Raceway this past weekend. Piloting the No. 127 ST-Class, BMW 330 entered by Fountain Motorsports, Payne was teamed with Belgian Olivier Muytjens for the 2.5-hour event.
Having never been to Watkins Glen and with the majority of his racing experience being in open-wheel race cars, Byron had his work cut out for him. With limited amounts of practice time as a result of bad weather and caution periods, Byron's first laps would be on a very wet and slippery track. This meant he would learn both the car and track during his 1.5 hour stint during Saturday's race.
The team qualified the No. 127 car in the 30th spot for the ST class, 61st overall. With a 77-car field (44 in ST class, 33 in GS), the field would be split into two separate starts. Muytjens would run the first stint with Payne standing-by to take the BMW through the end of the race. The Fountain team made one pit stop at about the 1-hour mark, with Byron jumping in for what would be a 1.5 hour stint. Laying down quick and consistent lap times, most within the same second, lap after lap. Slowed by a few caution periods, Payne and the Fountain team remained focused, driving smart and picking their moves. "With the large field of cars, it was a busy race. I just put my head down and drove as smart and smooth as I could." said Payne. When the checkered flag flew, the team was sitting 13th in class and 34th overall. For Fountain Motorsports, this would be the highest finishing position they have had this season, with their 4-car BMW squad.
For Byron Payne, it felt great to be back behind the wheel of a racecar and bring home such a strong finish. "It's been several years since I last raced and it went better than I could have expected. I have to thank Fountain Motorsports and all my sponsors for the opportunity."