Watkins Glen: TRG preview

TRG Trio Ready for Six at The Glen; Pumpelly Leads GT Points Petaluma, Calif., (June 1, 2009) - TRG's Spencer Pumpelly takes his narrow GT points lead into the Grand-Am Rolex Series Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen this Saturday, June 6. ...

TRG Trio Ready for Six at The Glen; Pumpelly Leads GT Points

Petaluma, Calif., (June 1, 2009) - TRG's Spencer Pumpelly takes his narrow GT points lead into the Grand-Am Rolex Series Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen this Saturday, June 6. Pumpelly holds the GT driver standings lead by a single point.

The demanding 3.4-mile, 11-turn undulating Watkins Glen road course in upstate New York will put the three TRG entries to the test early on. The long straights should favor the V8s and the light weight competitors, while the fast sweeping turns should favor the Porsches.

Team owner Kevin Buckler is mixing the TRG lineup for the six hours. He is pairing GT points leader Pumpelly with 2005 Grand-Am champion Craig Stanton and the up and coming TRG driver, John Potter. Pumpelly, Potter and Stanton will drive the No. 66 AXA/Wealth Management Strategies/Magnus Racing/TRG Porsche GT3. The 66 car has been TRGs most consistent runner this season posting a second place finish at the Rolex 24 Hour, a sixth place at Virginia International Raceway (VIR), a second place at New Jersey Motorsports Park and a fourth place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

"We will need to have consistency behind the wheel, good pit stops, and mistake free driving to do well this weekend," Pumpelly said. "We will also have to be really up on our strategy game, driver order will be important and we need to be very specific on our fuel usage. The Porsche will really have no performance advantage at The Glen. The straights are long and the uphill sections definitely favor the V8 Pontiacs and the lightweight Mazdas. I really like Watkins Glen. I won my first ever race in September of 1997 at The Glen and I also won the six hours in 2007. I am looking forward to having John and Craig with me this weekend."

"To be really successful this weekend we will need to cross the finish line in front of every other car," Potter said. "Keeping the tires alive will be a key factor. All of the Porsche teams last year had trouble with the rear tires here and hopefully we will be better. In the end, it comes down to the driver not abusing them more than necessary. As with all long races, consistency also helps. The race goes on a long time. I think the Mazdas will be really strong. In 2006, my first season racing anything, I was in a Skip Barber regional and Watkins Glen was the site of my first podium. It is one of my top three favorite tracks to drive. Strategy is important in every race and I think more so in the shorter ones, however with six hours to deal with it is that much harder to plan for the end when there is so much uncertainty. We will be joining Spencer this weekend in the 66 car, so I think we have a great chance at a top finish."

Justin Marks and Andy Lally are rejoined by fellow Rolex 24 winner RJ Valentine. The trio will try to rebound from some early season bad luck. After winning the Rolex 24 Hour, Marks and Lally have had some mechanical issues and just some plain old hard luck in their No. 67 Construct Corps/CRG/No Fear Energy Drinks/Voodoo Ride/K1 Speed/Gemstone Winery/TRG Porsche GT3. The team needs to add consistency going forward to capitalize on their first place finish at the Rolex 24, their fourth place finish in New Jersey and two 15th place finishes at VIR and Laguna Seca.

"Well I used to think that any races over two hours and 45 minutes were going to be treated differently," Marks said. "But the 24 was an all-out sprint race for 20 hours so I really think, as well as these Porsche's are built, we're going to be flat-out the entire time. Pit strategy is a bit different, but as I've said before, the competition is so tough, the teams and drivers are so good that the winner is going to be 100% for every lap. We've proven so far this year that no matter where we go, it's the same players at the front of the field so I think it's going to come down to team performance and a well constructed strategy. One of my favorite memories of my entire career came at The Glen in 2004 when Boris Said and I went head to head for the victory. We traded the lead maybe five times in the final couple laps on rain tires, at night, on a drying track. We split a back marker on the back straight coming to the checkered flag where he beat me by a few feet. We have reminisced about that race many times since. The last pit stop we make will have to be at the right time, but other than that it'll be a knock-down, drag out fight the entire time."

"We need to do the most laps and be the very first car to cross the finish line," Lally said. "I don't think Porsche has an advantage on any of the race tracks right now with the exception of having a slight advantage over Pontiac at Daytona. If there is heavy rain, the Porsche finds an advantage with putting power down because of the engine weight over the rear tires. Other than the rain advantage we are fighting an uphill battle everywhere we go. I have so many special memories of Watkins Glen, by far the most of any track I have raced in my career. We've won the six hours of The Glen twice and I also scored my first NASCAR top ten finish here. I've had great battles and look forward to more. I grew up in New York and this is a homecoming for me. On top of all of that it is an awesome track to drive."

Josemanuel Gutierrez and Scott Schroeder will be joined by Duncan Ende in the No. 68 Cohen Financial/TRG Porsche. The trio reunites at the six hour after being teammates in the Rolex 24 where they posted a top 15 finish.

"My first ever Grand-Am Rolex race was at Watkins and I finished ninth," Gutierrez said. "I will do my best to improve over that this weekend. We can't get into trouble and we will have to run with our usual consistency. We have a good shot for a top five result. Strategy is a good part of the formula, but we will also need luck on our side. I don't think we have an advantage at any track. There is no free lunch."

"To win at the six hour requires a whole lot more from the drivers, crew and car," Schroeder said. "Strategy also plays a larger role and the key will be to keep the time in the pits at a minimum. Unfortunately I have not had the best of luck at Watkins. I have raced the last two KONI races at the Glen, but both resulted in poor results either due to mechnicals or contact. This weekend Duncan Ende will be joining us in the 68 car. I am looking forward to the race and getting a good result."

"Watkins Glen is one of my favorite tracks with its long fast corners and sweeping elevation changes," Ende said. "I had an excellent time running with Josemanuel and Scott at the 24 and am looking forward to sharing the 68 car with them again. Josemanuel had a strong result here last year and I know Scott is always quick from our time as teammates on the KONI Challenge team. With some deft strategy work on pit lane, I am sure we have a shot at an excellent result. The six hour is a long race and if we are going to bring home the strong finish we are looking for, we have to get to the end with as little drama as possible along the way. A low percentage move in traffic early in the race, a spin while pushing harder than necessary, or not seeing an overexcited prototype diving to the inside into the chicane could all cost us track position, time in the pits for repairs, or knock us clear out of the race. As long as the three of us keep our eyes up and wits about us we should be able to do the job and bring the 68 car home in great shape after six hours."

Team owner Kevin Buckler's team is leading the points and having solid drives every weekend.

"We mixed up our driver lineup a little bit for this weekend," Buckler said. "Spencer, John and Craig will be a very strong combination. The Watkins Glen six hour race has always been one we have performed well at in the past. We may not have the all out speed up the fast back stretch, but I think combined with our driver skill, preparation and strategy, we will definitely be a factor when the checker drops after six hours. Spencer has a one point lead in the points, we hope to protect and even expand that this weekend. Justin and Andy have a good opportunity to get the tough luck behind them and have a great race. RJ rejoins our team this weekend, which is always a boost for everyone on the team. We have the young guns and cagey veteran with Duncan, Scott and Josemanuel, these guys will surprise you. The will be a strong car. We have been doing all of the right preparation and we are ready!"

The Sahlen's Six Hour of The Glen, round five of Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, will be televised live on the SPEED channel in two segments, for two hours apiece, starting at 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 6.

-credit: trg

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Kevin Buckler , Andy Lally , Justin Marks , Skip Barber , Spencer Pumpelly , Craig Stanton , Duncan Ende , Scott Schroeder , John Potter
Teams Magnus Racing