Stevenson Pontiac Locks Up Second Place In Rolex Championships It was a great first season for the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports -- BryanMark Financial Pontiac GXP.R, driven by Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell, in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car...
Stevenson Pontiac Locks Up Second Place In Rolex Championships
It was a great first season for the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports -- BryanMark Financial Pontiac GXP.R, driven by Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell, in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16. Davis and Liddell finished second in the GT Driver's Championship and Stevenson Motorsports claimed second in the GT Team Championship.
When you consider the car was brand new at the start of the year, to have pulled down second place is a remarkable achievement. Even more remarkable is that, had they scored just 10 points more, first place would have been won by the Jacksonville, NC based Stevenson team.
The 13th and final race of the 2008 season was the SunRichGourmet.com 1,000 at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. Paul Edwards and Kelly Collins, driving the No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R picked up the win and, having finished ahead of the second place Stevenson car, they wrapped up the championship with a slim 9 point lead.
The Stevenson team accomplished the remarkable feat of ending 9 of the season's 13 races on the podium, with a balanced record of first, second and third place finishes. That is, they finished 1st three times (Mexico, Virginia, Montreal) 2nd three times (Watkins Glen, New Jersey, Utah) and 3rd three times (Lime Rock, Mid-Ohio, Daytona). In the other four races, they were knocked out of contention by other cars twice (Daytona Rolex 24, Laguna Seca), they had just one mechanical failure all season (Homestead), and they finished just off the podium in 4th one time (Alabama).
Change their fate even slightly in any one of those four races and this team might have gathered up those 10 additional points. That is how close this battle between the Banner Engineering and Stevenson Motorsports teams was this season.
Accepting that fate and circumstance will not always rule in your favor, Team Manager Mike Johnson congratulated the overall champions and made it clear that the Stevenson team intends to build on this incredible foundation in 2009.
"First, my congratulations go to Banner Racing on winning the Championship. " Johnson said, "They did exactly what they had to do today and that was to go out and win the race. As for us, I can't imagine a better season for our little team. We have many great things to be proud of like most podiums by ANY team (GT or DP) for the season and unbelievable reliability and race execution.
"This is, of course, the time of year when you look back and say to yourself if only this would not have happened or that would not have happened we would have won the championship, but that's racing. You even start counting the points as if we used the NASCAR, F1, or IRL Points system to see if we would have won, and yes we would have, but again it doesn't matter. Right now I am just so happy for John and Susan Stevenson, they showed the commitment to me and the team, and we were able to deliver for them. My goal at the beginning of the year was to put them on the podium at the banquet and we achieved it, and next year we will do one better."
The SunRichGourmet.com 1,000 also marked the 11th time the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports -- BryanMark Financial Pontiac GXP.R has finished in the top ten.
The race at Miller was interrupted by Mother Nature as the skies opened to unleash a torrential rainstorm in the desert basin in which Miller Motorsports Park was built. With nowhere for the rain water to go, hydroplaning of race cars became all the rage. Cars went off course everywhere, leading to a caution period that saw everyone diving (surfing?) into the pits to put on rain tires. Thankfully the rain subsided quickly and the track began to dry out before any of the involuntary surfers could wipe out completely.
Despite a brief spin in the wet, the No. 57 Pontiac escaped damage and went on to finish a strong second behind the Banner car.
Andrew Davis offered these comments on the race and the remarkable season he enjoyed with this team.
"That was a great race. We did all we could. The No. 07 car with Kelly (Collins) and Paul (Edwards) did a great job. Congratulations to Pontiac and GM for the manufactures title. Congratulations to Banner (Racing) and those guys for the championship and driver's championship."
Davis continued, "We're just thrilled. Stevenson Motorsports and the Pontiac GXP.R raced great today. To finish second in the championship is huge for us - and (we picked up) another podium finish! We have the most podiums out of all the GT teams this year. Robin was on slicks in the rain, which was actually a mistake but we ended up being able to come back and get a strong podium finish, so we're really happy and excited."
Robin Liddell too felt this team had much to be thankful for when he said: "To be honest I'm pretty happy. We obviously lost some time with the wet cautions there. We came in wet-to-wet and the Banner guys stayed out on slicks for another lap or so and then they went to rains, so that's how they got the break on us, but I'm really happy with the race we did. I think we did a great job with what we had underneath us. The car was good, but it wasn't enough to be able to push it and get more out of it.
"Second in the race and second in the championship - it's a great result for us. If you look at the whole season and where we've come from, we're very happy."
Team owner John Stevenson expressed his sense of pride in his team's accomplishments, and offered his congratulations to the Banner Engineering team, when he said: "First of all, my congratulations to Leighton Reese and the entire Banner Team for winning the GT Championship. Congratulations are also due to Pontiac for taking the Manufacturer's Championship. Thanks to Pontiac and Pratt & Miller for providing with such a great car.
"WOW! What a year Stevenson Motorsports had and it was a great ride!
"I would like to thank Nick Bellon and Bryan Mark Financial Group for their support this season and Team Manager, Mike Johnson, for calling some great races. Our engineer, Kyle Millay, and Data Acquisition, Greg Jones, performed flawlessly all year. I also send kudos one more time to our superior crew, Randy Kuyoth, Michael Hoffman, Chris Vallely, Grant Ford, Andy Maxwell, Steve Henderson and Dexter Johnson.
"What more can I say about our drivers, Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell, as we have the best driver team in GT. We will be back for the 2009 season in full force!"