Caddell Wins Inaugural Ford Racing Mustang Challenge Race at Road Atlanta Braselton, GA (3 May 2008) -- Pole sitter Andrew Caddell didn't lead the first lap of Ford Racing Mustang Challenge for the Miller Cup competition, but the Graham, ...
Caddell Wins Inaugural Ford Racing Mustang Challenge Race at Road Atlanta
Braselton, GA (3 May 2008) -- Pole sitter Andrew Caddell didn't lead the first lap of Ford Racing Mustang Challenge for the Miller Cup competition, but the Graham, Washington native had an otherwise perfect weekend, leading the charts in every practice and qualifying session before going on to take a victory at Road Atlanta in the Series' first race event.
Caddell's TC Motorsports Ford Mustang FR500S was followed to the line by Rehagan Racing's Jamie Slone, with Pratt Cole taking the final spot on the podium with his run to third place in the RP Motorsports Ford Mustang.
The forty-five minute event got off to a clean rolling start as twenty-one cars took the green flag. Slone made a strong move to take the lead on the start, as Caddell slotted into second. The former Spec Miata Champ Caddell took control soon after, moving to the point and never looking back as he built a gap over the field. The race was slowed twice for safety car periods, with the second caution bringing the 45-minute event to a conclusion under yellow conditions.
"I'm really happy to get the first win in Mustang Challenge, but every time that yellow came out I wasn't so sure that it was going to happen!" said Caddell. "I'd pull out a five second lead, and then it'd all go away with the yellows. It was interesting on those restarts! Fortunately we were able to stay up front and get the win. This Mustang is a blast to drive, and I have to thank TC Motorsports for giving me such a great car all weekend."
After opening the race with his move to the lead from the outside front row, Slone found himself in the thick of the battle right to the finish.
"The odds were huge that it was going to rain today, but it didn't so we just stuck with plan B, which was to go with what you are given," said Slone. "It was great to take the lead at the start but I think I was driving in my mirrors too much and I ended up making a mistake and giving up the lead. But it feels great to be up here with these guys, who have all raced for championships and have so much experience. I want to thank GoPro/Molecule for supporting me and helping me get to this point. I really wanted to win this first Mustang Challenge race, but I'm still really happy with this result. Congrats to Andrew, he's a clean racer and we had a great fight out there."
Cole, who has miles of experience racing against Caddell in MX-5 competition, was pleased to move up to take a podium finish, but had some ideas about where Caddell should race in the future.
"I raced against Andrew all last year in the MX-5 Series, and I think I might want to sponsor him so he can go back and race there!" joked Cole. "It was a lot of fun out there, and the restarts were really exciting. It was a great weekend and I think this series is going to be a ton of fun."
The Road Atlanta race, held in conjunction with HSR's Walter Mitty weekend, marked the result of months of preparation for series organizers, as the idea made rapid progression from concept to rolling reality as the Ford Racing Mustang competition ladder added a new and exciting level of racing in a short amount of time.
"I couldn't be happier with the way the weekend turned out," said Series Director Lynda Randall. "Everything from load-in to the checkered flag went almost exactly according to plan. Having partners like Ford Racing and Miller Motorsports Park are key to the success of an event like this, and I am really looking forward to the rest of the season."
"Congratulations to Andrew," said Ford Racing Executive Director Dan Davis. "He ran a really clean race and did a fantastic job. Ford Racing and Mustang enthusiasts all over are really excited about this new Ford Racing Challenge for the Miller Cup, and this was a great opening weekend."
"Both on the car side and on the series side, this weekend more than met our expectations," said Jamie Allison, manager of the Ford Racing Performance Group. "But what makes us even more excited actually was the fact that we saw someone who came through the Mazda program do so well. We have a close relationship with our friends at Mazda, and to watch the progression of someone in the Mazda Series come and do well here is an unexpected and wonderful surprise and shows the series can co-exist."
Round two of the eight-race championship will take place at Mosport International Raceway on Sunday, June 15.
Special Post-race Awards--In addition to the traditional podium ceremonies, three drivers earned special awards in the post-race awards.
Steve Phillips won the Barbasol "Closest Shave" Award and a check for $250 with his 15th place finish, which was just .585-seconds ahead of Rob Kinnan in 16th.
Andrew Caddell won $250 from Zantrex-3 by leading the most laps and taking the Zantrex-3 Insta-Shot Award.
Carlo Sparacio netted two BFGoodrich Tires for use in his next round of Mustang Challenge competition by scoring the BFGoodrich "Take Control" Award after moving up from last in the field to take sixth at the checkered flag, and making more upward progress than any other racer in the field.
Mark German was transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center for observation following an on-track incident late in the race.
The Ford Racing Mustang Challenge would like to thank the corner workers at Road Atlanta for their help all weekend.