VIR: Howard-Boss Motorsports race report

The BOSS Snowplow Team Sixth in VIR 400 Wallace, Leitzinger recover from early spin to record third top-six of '06 season Alton, VA (April 23, 2006) . The ...

The BOSS Snowplow Team Sixth in VIR 400
Wallace, Leitzinger recover from early spin to record third top-six of '06 season

Alton, VA (April 23, 2006) . The #4 BOSS Snowplow Racing Team had high hopes entering the VIR 400 at the Virginia International Raceway on Sunday afternoon. The Alton, Virginia course is the closest track to the Denver, North Carolina home of Howard-Boss Motorsports, and the race always attracts a large crowd of employees, family, and friends of the third-year racing team. However, their hopes of a podium finish may very well have ended in the first three laps of the 77-lap event.

The format for the VIR 400 was new for the Rolex Series this season as the starting grid would be determined by a qualifying race held on Saturday afternoon. This thirty minute e vent would set the grid for the 250-mile feature event on Sunday. Starting positions for the qualifying race would be set by team points entering the race. Originally, practice speeds on Saturday morning would to have been the criteria for the qualifying race grid; however, torrential rain forced a change in that policy. The qualifying race would be an "exercise in survival" as rain and horrific track conditions made the race little more than a high speed parade around the Virginia course. Wallace would finish ninth and earn that position on the starting grid for the VIR 400.

Starting ninth in the 46-car field, Butch Leitzinger was settling into his race pace for the first stint of the afternoon when the #77 car decided to occupy the same real estate on the course as the BOSS Pontiac Crawford on lap two. The resulting contact sent Leitzinger spinning off course, dropping the veteran road racer from the eighth to the 25th position in the running order. However, Leitzinger recovered and brought the BOSS Snowplow Pontiac Crawford to the pits on lap 8 when the first caution of the race waved for an accident in turn 17.

Leitzinger received fuel only during this stop, and restarted the race in the eighth position on lap 15. Working race traffic on the crowded VIR course can be a difficult task, but Leitzinger did a masterful job and moved into the sixth position by lap 30. When caution waved on lap 31, Leitzinger made his second stop of the race. During this stop, the BOSS Snowplow crew changed tires, refueled, and made a driver change. Andy Wallace, who has literally thousands of laps at VIR as the test, research and development driver for Crawford Race Cars, assumed the driving chores for the final stint of the race.

Wallace would restart ninth on lap 35 and begin his methodical drive toward the front. However, his attack would be cut short when Wallace reported that one of his belts had worked loose on lap 45. Forced to pit, Wallace took fuel only and refastened the belt. Fortunately, Wallace would lose only two positions and reenter the race in the 11th position. However, this stop may eventually benefit the team since several of the leaders had not yet made their final pit stop of the race.

As the laps began to wind down, Wallace reported that his tires were losing grip. However, the veteran managed to work his way up to eighth by lap 60, and advanced to sixth on lap 73. But, the best efforts by two of the premiere competitors in the Rolex Series would result in a sixth place finish in the VIR 400.

"We got behind early when I got spun around on the third lap," Leitzinger commented. "From there, we were just trying to dig ourselves back up to the front. We got to a point, but it was very difficult to pass. The top 8-10 cars were very evenly matched. Considering everything, a sixth-place isn't that bad from where we started. We'll definitely be doubling our efforts to do better next time at Laguna Seca."

"We really don't have the straight speed, and because you don't have enough wing on, you ruin the tires," Wallace added. "We were just sliding around too much. So, it was really an uphill battle all weekend."

The BOSS Snowplow Team did manage to gain two positions in the overall point standings to rank seventh after five events. At VIR, the #4 Howard- Boss Motorsports Team capitalized on problems by the #58 and #60 teams to pass them in the standings. With nine races remaining on the '06 schedule, positions four through seven in the points are separated by only eleven points.

-hbm

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Wallace , Butch Leitzinger