HOMESTEAD, Fla., May 9 - The Supreme Exhaust System Products/Racer Parts Wholesale Riley & Scott Chevy ...
HOMESTEAD, Fla., May 9 - The Supreme Exhaust System Products/Racer Parts Wholesale Riley & Scott Chevy #95 lost its clutch about 15 minutes into Sunday's three-hour Grand-Am Nextel 250 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Despite that, drivers Tom Volk and Ross Bentley and the entire Toledo, Ohio-based TRV Motorsport team came through in a different type of clutch to finish fifth in class and fifth overall in the race, which will be televised soon on SpeedVision.
"The clutch completely went out right away; we still don't know why," related Volk, of Blissfield, Mich. "That made getting out of the pits a challenge. You had to be really careful not to stall it."
Volk, who owns the team in addition to being a driver, had high praise for Bentley. The White Rock, B.C., Canada driver was substituting for Volk's usual teammate, Indy Racing Northern Light Rookie of the Year point leader Jeret Schroeder, who is busy prepping for his second Indy 500 later this month.
"Ross did a fabulous job," Volk said. "He qualified seventh, and he drove laps in the race that were within a tenth of his qualifying lap, even without the clutch. He drove first, then I did a stint and then he finished the race. He was really great.
"Ross surpassed our expectations; he's a fabulous driver and a great guy," Volk added. "The team did its usual outstanding job. Our pit stops were as flawless as always; we were as fast as anybody else on our pit stops. We ran third for awhile and then dropped back and worked our way back up to fifth.
"Our Chevy engine, which is prepped by Todd Hertel, ran flawlessly in the race," Volk added. "Our Pirelli tires worked well and the Pirelli engineers were right there, helping us choose compounds. It was a fantastic effort by the whole team."
The 250-mile/104-lap event was won by Didier Theys and Mauro Baldi in the Doran Lista Special.
"We had to make one extra pit stop than the winners did; they were getting a little better fuel mileage than we did," Volk noted. "That didn't really affect anything as it turned out though, because there were some yellows."
"It was a good weekend," Bentley agreed. "Overall I was super-impressed with the team. They worked hard all weekend and we made some good progress on the set-up on the car. You always wish you had some test time to get more out of the car, but I think we did a good job in getting everything we could get out of the car in the time we had."
Bentley had high praise for Hertel too; he preps TRV's Chevys out of Hertel Racing Engines in Spartanburg, S.C.
"That was by far the best Chevy engine I've ever driven; Todd does a great job with those engines," Bentley said. "I had way too much fun," he concluded. "I really enjoy that track and I had fun with the whole team. I have to say thanks to Tom and the team for the opportunity to go run with them."
Like most of the teams at Homestead, the TRV troop was working with a fresh piece of paper for this event since the 2.4-mile road course configuration was new. "We were actually on three-fourths of the oval, so it was very challenging and very fast," Volk noted. "I've never driven ovals before except for Las Vegas a couple of years ago, so it was challenging. The slow point in some of the turns was still 140 mph. It was wild!"
Another thing that was wild about the weekend for the TRV team was the drama that unfolded during practice Saturday.
"The engine started to misfire, and we couldn't find the problem," Volk said. "Todd [Hertel, the engine builder] and the guys tried everything. We were all very concerned.
"The clock kept ticking and we still didn't have the problem solved. Finally we tried replacing the crank trigger sensor, and I went out with about two and a half minutes left in the final half-hour practice session Saturday afternoon to see if that solved it. I blitzed out of the pits and did two quick laps and everyone went from suicidal to pleased, because that solved it. The engine ran flawlessly in the race, but we lost a day of set-up work because of that one little sensor. So, to have all that trouble the day before the race and still finish fifth, it was a great result for all of us."
TRV's next event is one of its favorite races annually, as it is slated to compete at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course June 2-4. Volk expects to be joined behind the wheel by Schroeder for that race.