TRG Finishes Successful 2005 Season Petaluma, Calif. b^0x0013 Kevin Buckler and The Racer's Group completed a successful 2005 Grand American Rolex Series in the GT and Daytona Prototype categories. The team won the GT team championship with ...
TRG Finishes Successful 2005 Season
Petaluma, Calif. b^0x0013 Kevin Buckler and The Racer's Group completed a successful 2005 Grand American Rolex Series in the GT and Daytona Prototype categories. The team won the GT team championship with Marc Bunting and Andy Lally coming second in the drivers category -- the duo narrowly missed capturing the championship, falling a single point shy because of a controversial last lap incident in Mexico City. In DP two race wins -- including a 1 -- 2 finish at the Watkins Glen Six Hours - and several top finishes highlighted the year.
The season started with the traditional Grand Am opener, the Daytona 24 Hours. TRG took on the task of entering eight cars for the twice around-the-clock affair, six Porsche GT cars and two Daytona Prototypes. The effort included 36 drivers and, more than 50 crew members. The result was four top ten finishes in GT and a tenth and eleventh in DP. Daytona was also the introduction of Team 16 with Brad Coleman and Collin Braun, the youngest drivers ever to compete in the esteemed endurance event. The addition of the Krohn Racing prototypes in late December ushered the team into the top ranks of sportscar racing. With no testing to prove the package and exercise the team, the Daytona effort was competitive from the start qualifying third for the 24 hour race.
The heart of the season saw many triumphs for the California based team. At Homestead the GT effort of Lally and Bunting netted their first win, letting it be known that the two would be a combination to be reckoned with in the championship. The DP effort scored their podium finish, as Jorg Bergmeister and Max Papis finished third.
At Fontanna contact was the word of the day. Bergmeister was able to lead in DP before contact knocked him back. Nic Jonsson, teamed with co-owner Tracy Krohn, was also knocked around the California modified oval track. In GT, Bunting and Lally again had a successful run in their Porsche, coming home in second.
Laguna Seca witnessed a continuation of unnecessary contact in the DP ranks, costing both Krohn Racing/TRG cars as they suffered at the hands of errant drivers, causing finishes of tenth and eleventh. In GT the day was tougher with mechanical gremlins for Bunting and Lally, including a power steering failure early and a battery change later to give them what would be one of their worst finishes of the season.The long trek to Mont-Tremblant in Canada and a rained soaked day took its toll on the California crew. Bunting and Lally were once again on pole, but could only manage a thirteenth place finish. Although the duo managed to lead a great deal of the race in GT, contact with prototypes causing body and radiator damage led to lengthy repairs and a tough day. In DP the rain played havoc with both cars electrical systems, a fifth place finish for Bergmeister and Christian Fittipaldi was the best the team could muster.
What would be the first of three visits to Watkins Glen proved successful for both teams. Bunting and Lally qualified on pole and finished second in GT, again in the rain. It was all Krohn Racing/TRG in the prototypes with a one-two finish with team owner Tracy Krohn and Nic Jonsson besting teammates Bergmeister and Fittipaldi in a New York deluge -- the team's first victory of the season and the only team 1 -- 2 finish recorded in Grand Am all season.
Daytona in July ushered in a new era for TRG. The team switched their top drivers Bunting and Lally over to the team's new Pontiac GTO.R GT cars. Factory shoes Paul Edwards and Jan Magnussen joined the team in a second full time GT at the beach-front track. The weekend was met with mixed results; the Edwards/Magnussen car did not make the start due to a parts problem and Lally and Bunting were taken out in the waning moments of the race by an over-zealous DP competitor in the closing laps. Bergmeister and Papis qualified third and finished third with Krohn and Jonsson coming home in eighth.
At Barber Motorsport Park the story was the heat and strategy. In the prototypes the #66 team was heading for its first victory when Fittipladi had to stop with a handful of laps remaining for a splash of fuel. Krohn and Jonsson suffered mechanical gremlins that ended their day early. In GT, the team's second race with the GTO.Rs, they were able to come home fourth and fifth with Bunting and Lally trying to make up lost ground in the GT championship.
The second date at Watkins Glen proved to be a gem for Edwards and Magnussen as they posted the first win for the Pontiac factory-backed GTO.R on the NASCAR short course. Bunting and Lally were able to come home in fourth. In DP Fittipaldi and Bergmeister parlayed their second place qualifying effort into a third place finish. Krohn and Jonsson suffered engine related issues and came home in twenty-third.
The natural road course at Mid-Ohio had Bunting and Lally finishing second with fill-in teammate Ron Fellows and Paul Edwards retiring their GTO.R with a suspension problem. In DP Bergmeister and Papis came home fifth with their teammates right behind in sixth.
The race under the lights in Phoenix was one of the highlights of the team's season. Paul Edwards, along with teammate Magnussen, was able to win the pole and then the race in GT. Bunting and Lally completed the evening fourth. In DP Bergmeister and Fittipaldi won the contact filled event, which TRG ruled, winning both the GT and DP classes in convincing fashion. Krohn and Jonsson retired early with a engine problem. Nevertheless, the TRG teams achieved what no other team had done in the history of Grand American competition -- winning both the DP and GT classes in the same race.
The last visit to Watkins Glen had Bunting and Lally winning their first race in the GTO.R, with teammates Edwards and Magnussen on the next step of the podium in second. What looked like another strong Glen finish for Jonsson and Krohn was thwarted when Nic had to pit out of fourth place to clear away debris from the radiator. Bergmeister and Papis' day ended early with engine trouble.
A mixed bag at Virginia International raceway was caused by rainy weather right up to race time. Although the rain stopped for the race the slippery conditions remained. Bergmeister was shoved off early into the grass and it took him a long while to lim back to pit lane to change a flat tire, dropping him from contention. Teammates Krohn and Jonsson lead several laps before Nic went into turn one and the brake pedal went to the floor, ending the duos day early with a master cylinder failure. In GT on the strength of their third place finish Bunting and Lally took the GT points lead by a single point. Edwards and Magnussen soldiered through an early battery fire to bring the GTO.R to the line in sixth.
The final round at Mexico City had Burning and Lally coming in with championship on their mind. The duo had to beat the number 80 Porsche of Craig Stanton to take the series title. On the last lap of the race, Lally and Stanton's co-driver David Murry engaged in a battle. Lally passed Murry for the lead in turn 11, only to have Murry make a last grasp effort in turn 14, throwing his Porsche at the GTO.R and making contact in the rear - spinning Lally to give Stanton the championship. While this drama was playing out Magnussen who took over from Edwards went on to post the fourth win for the GTO.R in seven races, laying down the gauntlet for '06. In DP both cars endured tough days. What looked like a great move by Bergmeister to lead the first lap was ended when Grand Am officials called him in for a stop-and-go for passing before the start/finish. Krohn and Jonsson were playing catch-up all day as the race went caution free and the elevation was affecting the power of the Pontiac motor.
"We had a busy season, campaigning cars in both GT and the DP class, "said Kevin Buckler, TRG team owner. "Daytona was a lot of work! However it has become TRG's signature event. Tracy's program was a little late in starting, but we were able to make huge competitive strides with both cars on the strength of a lot of testing, team work and providing well prepared cars. The wins at Watkins Glen and Phoenix let it be known that the program was one to be reckoned with. In GT we came out of the box at Daytona with our sights on the championship. We were able to post wins with three different cars -- both Pontiac GTO.Rs and one Porsche - and put Marc and Andy in a position to win it all going into the last race. We also had many great performances with our Porsches with Steve Johnson, Robert Nearn, Team 16, and a host of guest drivers throughout the season. The team is now focusing on our GTO.R and Porsche effort in GT for 2006."
Summary of TRG 2005 Accomplishments -- GT:
* TRG wins team championship in GT
* Bunting and Lally finished second in GT drivers title by a single point
* Wins, four at Homestead, Daytona, Watkins Glen and Mexico City in GT
* GT pole positions at Homestead, Mont-Tremblant, Watkins Glen, Phoenix and Virginia
* Four GT cars in the top 10 at Daytona 24 Hour
* Bunting and Lally win in Porsche at Homestead and again in GTO.R at Watkins Glen
* Introduced new GT competitor GTO.R at Daytona in July
* Eleven top 10 finishes, between the two cars with new GTO.R
* Paul Edwards is the highest ranking GT driver in laps led with 59
* 41 different drivers drove for TRG in GT in 2005
* TRG GT was the highest ranking GT effort with laps lead with 111
* Campaigned eight cars at the Daytona 24, six GT and two DPs
Summary of Krohn Racing/TRG 2005 Accomplishments -- DP:
* DP wins at Watkins Glen and Phoenix
* DP one - two finish at Watkins Glen in June
* Top five qualifying efforts in DP at Daytona 24, Fontana, Laguna Seca, Daytona in July, Barber, Watkins Glen, Phoenix, Watkins Glen, Virginia and Mexico
* Together with TRG cars finished first in both classes at Phoenix
* Bergmeister finished fourth in DP points with Jonsson also in the top 10, completing the year in ninth
* Krohn Racing/TRG finished fourth in DP team championship
* Christian Fittipaldi was third on the DP laps lead chart with 138, Bergmeister was fourth with 114
* Krohn Racing/TRG was fourth in team laps lead with 232
TRG would like to recognize the crew members that worked so hard to make the 2005 season a success:
Mike Johnson, John Brenner, Eric Lopez, Tom Johansen, William Mendez, Steve Newey, Gary Biehl, Jeff Kruger, Mike Kuzela, Robin Boling, Brock Wagner, Ethan Bregman, Marty Atcher, Chris Vallely, Juan Alejandre, Gerard Bouffard, Anthony Tomasi, Jim DuBois, Jim Kasprzak
Rob Trites, Mike Fox, Steve Gately, Patrick, Scott Aden, Chad Ward, Denis Montpelier, John Bedell, Rob Isley, Tony Henderson, Patrick Dubuc, Denis Montpillier, Nuno da Costa, Jeff Milan
Bill Rader, Lars Giersing, Flemming Ekstrand, Jacob Hunter, Bill Boada, Manny Martinez, Evan Chance, Steve Johnson, Darrin Rudicil, Adrian Lindsey, Lynn Bishop, Chuck Houghton, Kyle Millay, Brian Hoye, Brian Colangelo, Don and Annette Boucher, Glenn Isky, Tom Payn, Norman Peralta
Shane Mahoney, Carole Carter, Larry Sauer, Nancy Pattee, Jennifer Anderson, Kyle Chura, Regis Lefebure