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Sebring: ZIP Racing qualifying notes

ZIP Racing Qualifies Eighth in GT Class for Saturday's Mobile 1 12 Hours of Sebring SEBRING, Fla., March 13 - ZIP Racing qualified eighth in the GT class and 36th overall with one of its Hazardous Sports Porsche GT3 RS cars Thursday afternoon at...

ZIP Racing Qualifies Eighth in GT Class for Saturday's Mobile 1 12 Hours of Sebring

SEBRING, Fla., March 13 - ZIP Racing qualified eighth in the GT class and 36th overall with one of its Hazardous Sports Porsche GT3 RS cars Thursday afternoon at Sebring International Raceway in preparation for Saturday's Mobile 1 12 Hours of Sebring.

Spencer Pumpelly of Mason Neck, Va. put the black number 33 Porsche, Sweetness, into the show with a lap in 2:09.423. His best lap during the 25-minute qualifying session was his third of eight laps around the historic 3.7-mile road course, which he did at an average speed of 102.918 mph.

His co-drivers are Steve Ivankovich of Chicago and Andy Lally of Northport, N.Y.

The Chicago-based team's other Hazardous Sports Porsche GT3 RS, the orange number 39, didn't post a qualifying time Thursday. It was involved in a crash in practice yesterday afternoon, and it's uncertain if it will be able to be repaired in time for Saturday's race.

Emil Assentato of Locust Valley, N.Y., was unhurt in that accident. His co-drivers are Brent Sherman of Barrington, Ill. and Nick Longhi of Nyack, N.Y. (As an interesting side note, Sherman finished fourth in the ARCA Re/Max stock car race at Atlanta Motor Speedway last Saturday in a Ford.)

"We're having a hard time getting the car to go over the bumps," Pumpelly said moments after climbing out of the #33 Porsche after qualifying. "It's understeering and oversteering both. But the car is getting better every session; we just have to keep moving forward. But I'm confident the Hazardous Sports team will get it."

Assentato felt really bad about yesterday's crash.

"It wasn't even much of an accident," he said. "I ended up in the guardrail on the inside of the hairpin. The left rear quarter panel hit the cement retaining wall and bent the rear clip. If it was a big accident I would have more to talk about, but really I just tapped it."

If repairs can't be made in time for Saturday's race and the #39 Hazardous Sports Porsche would have to be withdrawn, the team plans to put photos of both missing children in its "Race to Find a Child" program on the #33 car. This program is being run in conjunction with the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and consists of the team putting photos of two missing children from the area the race is being held at on its race cars and the Hazardous Sports trailer. It plans to do this for different local children at all of the events it competes at this year. The goal is that someone seeing the photos of the missing children on the race cars and the Hazardous Sports transporter will be able to locate them and help authorities solve the cases.

Only three more practice sessions remain: tonight at 8 p.m.; tomorrow at 9:35 a.m. and 6:15 p.m. and then a quick warm-up Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m. The 12-hour race starts at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

The race will be televised live from flag-to-flag by the SPEED Channel beginning at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday and concluding at 11 p.m. that night.

It will be shown on Eurosport on a tape-delay basis at 20:00 Central European time on March 23.

Live coverage by the ALMS Radio Web can be found on www.americanlemans.com and www.imsaracing.net.

ZIP Racing's Web site will debut soon at www.ZIPRacing.com, while Hazardous Sports' is under construction at www.hazardous-sports.com. Spencer Pumpelly's Web site is at www.pumpellyracing.com, while Andy Lally's is at www.andylally.com.

Spencer Pumpelly: "We're up against a steep learning curve here for three reasons: first, this is a new track for ZIP Racing. Second, this is a new series for ZIP Racing. And third, we have some new personnel. We're trying to minimize the learning curve as much as we can, but we can't eliminate it. We're looking for a solid, steady run, and to learn as much as we can."

Andy Lally: "I love the history behind the 12 Hours of Sebring, It's a huge honor to be a part of it. I love the atmosphere around the entire race, the cars, the crowd, the parties. The entire attitude of the weekend is one of total celebration for a new season and another crazy 12-hour race.

"The off-season was really dragging on for me. It seemed like it was taking so long for March to come. I guess that was because I was so eager to get started with ZIP Racing. The team is taking on quite a challenge and their ambition and attitude seem so great; they want so badly to show our competitors what they are made of. I too am certainly looking forward to competing against the other teams and so many talented drivers that are in the GT field."

Steve Ivankovich: "Hopefully we're going to have a good run. The only thing I can be sure of right now though is that we're going to have fun."

Brent Sherman: "I'm very excited about racing at Sebring. I have a bunch of laps and races under my belt at Sebring in the Barber Dodge Pro Cars. I am also excited about racing as a teammate to Nick. He was Todd Snyder's driver coach in BDPS while I was in the series, so I know and get along with him very well. I feel like the only thing I will need to get more accustomed to is the GT class. I will need to look in the mirror much more than I am used to. It will be an exciting time for me as well as the entire team. We have a great group of guys that like to have a lot of fun, and like to win.

"I am not sure exactly how many ARCA races I will be doing but I think it will be a pretty good amount. We finished fourth at Atlanta last Saturday. We have some pretty good equipment, and we should have a shot at winning one!"

Nick Longhi: "I'm looking forward to working with the Hazardous Sports/ZIP Racing team at Sebring more than I have for any race in a very long time. Sebring is a terrific race track, and such a great event. Our crew chief, Paul Chabris, and I have worked together very well in the past, so I h ave total confidence in the car. Brent Sherman and I know each other from the Barber Dodge Pro Series; Emil and I have been very successful as teammates and we are great friends. The most successful teams at any level fight as a tight-knit group. It's very rare, and a great asset, to have the level of harmony, group commitment and focus that Steve Ivankovich has put together with this team.

"I am very optimistic about our chances. As Steve says, 'There are no egos on this team': our goal is to try to win an endurance race, with all that entails. We are going to drive fast, take care of the car and stay out of the pits. Don't bet against a Porsche in an endurance race. I am very grateful to Tradition, Hazardous Sports, and everyone at ZIP Racing for having me on their team."

Emil Assentato: "I can only add that Nick and I have a long-standing partnership/friendship in the Grand Am Cup, and narrowly missed winning the Grand Sport II championship in 2002. Nick and I tend to like similar chassis setups and it is my understanding that Brent, whom Nick has worked with before, has similar tastes. Having the chance to work with ZIP Racing, our crew chief Paul Chablis, whom I had the pleasure of working with in the 2000 GT season in Grand Am with Spencer Pumpelly, and also with Brent is very exciting. All the parties have run with each other before, which should give us an advantage over other teams which may not have the experience with each other as we have. ZIP Racing has put together a focused and serious effort for the 51st running of the 12 Hours of Sebring with hopes of a podium finish, and we are hoping to meet this challenge. As everyone knows, running a quick and clean race for 12 hours is tough, but we think we have the tools to accomplish this goal."

-zr/lm-

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Series PWC
Drivers Emil Assentato , Nick Longhi , Andy Lally , Brent Sherman , Spencer Pumpelly , Todd Snyder