Road America: Jeff Courtney race report

TURNING POINT? After Bad Luck in Previous Races, Courtney Makes the Turn and Picks Up Awards at Road America Elkhart Lake, Wisc. (August 10, 2008) -- Jeff Courtney was determined to put on a great show for the hundreds of fans and ...

After Bad Luck in Previous Races, Courtney Makes the Turn and Picks Up Awards at Road America

Elkhart Lake, Wisc. (August 10, 2008) -- Jeff Courtney was determined to put on a great show for the hundreds of fans and supporters invited to the race this weekend. The overwhelming consensus was that he succeeded. "First off, I personally want to thank the people that were responsible for making the hospitality event happen. Jim Kacmarcik from Kapco, Inc., Woody Alverson from Accurate Metal Products, Andrew Schwartz and John Riechers of MPI Coin/Coins of America and Tom Multerer from TJM Integrated Wealth Management," said Courtney. "It was a great event and I really thank them for their support and for all of the friends and family that made it out. I also want to add a special thank you to LesleyAnn Neulreich of ProMPI for all of her hard work in putting the event together."

On Saturday after several successful and promising practice runs, there was an electrical failure in Courtney's No. 99 Kenda/TJM IWM/Coins of America Dodge Viper. Car Chief Erik Messley and Technician Eddie Martin rushed to fix the problem, but it could not be diagnosed in time to make a qualifying lap. Courtney was forced to start the race on Sunday at the back of the pack. "Our car continually got better throughout the week. The car was fast; I felt we had a top three car. Then the electrical failure. It's the old racing cliche, you can lose it all on a 20 cent part," said Courtney. "The whole team takes it really hard when something like this happens, it is hard for me to watch them feel so down. This was something that could not have been diagnosed during normal car preparation."

Courtney blasted out of start and immediately began to make up for their dead last start by weaving through traffic to pull his way up to the leaders, advancing seven positions in the first lap to earn himself the Racing Electronics Holeshot Award. "We got the kind of start that we needed, we knew that a lot of things needed to work in our favor to move our way through the field," said Courtney.

A couple of yellow flags also worked in Courtney's favor, bunching up the cars. "To come up through a field filled with such talented drivers, we needed to get a few breaks," said Courtney. In lap 15, the No. 8 Cadillac of Andy Pilgrim lost its engine and the car started on fire as it came into turn 5, crashing into the tires. Oil slick on the track forced the remaining cars to gingerly make their way through an all-course yellow, which remained for the finish of the race. Courtney had advanced a total of 18 places, earning himself the Sunoco Hard Charger Award and a respectable 8th place finish.

"Normally, I am a driver that NEVER wants to see a race finish under a yellow. This time, we were wounded, with fifth gear gone and fourth was questionable. I was just holding on when the yellow popped out. This was the second trans failure of the weekend. When my Car Chief Erik Messley radioed me that the race was going to finish under yellow, I was ecstatic. I felt like we were a sitting duck out there."

"All things considered, things really worked out for us, maybe our luck has finally turned," said Courtney.

"Jeff did what he does best, stayed patient and came from behind," said Team Owner, Bob Woodhouse. "The electrical failure was unfortunate, but nobody could predict that. He did the best he could with what was handed to him, it doesn't get more thrilling than what he did today! I'm really proud of him."

Things are looking up for the Woodhouse Team, Courtney's teammate Tommy Archer in the No. 13 Foametix Dodge Viper took his third checkered flag of the year, a win even more remarkable considering he was not even expected to race here this weekend but was asked by team owner Bob Woodhouse if he could fill in on short notice.

"Tommy, well what can you say about Tommy? He is phenomenal. I just can't say enough about our guys," said Woodhouse. "Success is in the details, our entire team is fully committed and striving for perfection at every race."

Courtney maintains his 7th place standing in the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT points race.

Catch the Road America SPEED GT race Wednesday, August 20 at noon (EDT) on the SPEED Channel.

The next race is Mosport Canada, August 21-24.

-credit: jcr

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Series PWC
Drivers Andy Pilgrim , Tommy Archer , Bob Woodhouse , Erik Messley , Jeff Courtney