Caddell Sings in the New Jersey Motorsports Park Rain to Take Mustang Challenge Victory Millville, NJ (3 May 2009) -- Sunday's Ford Racing Mustang Challenge race at New Jersey Motorsports Park marked the first race to be run in the rain in...
Caddell Sings in the New Jersey Motorsports Park Rain to Take Mustang Challenge Victory
Millville, NJ (3 May 2009) -- Sunday's Ford Racing Mustang Challenge race at New Jersey Motorsports Park marked the first race to be run in the rain in series young history, but one would never know that to watch it as the field raced like seasoned pros, getting the 40-minute sprint event off to a clean start and running the full distance to the checkered flag under green flag conditions as several thrilling battles were staged throughout the field.
Andrew Caddell led the field to the green flag, and after emerging from a tight side by side battle with fellow front row starter Ted Anthony, Jr. early on, set the pace and took flight from the field to score a convincing race victory to take his second win of the 2009 season. While Caddell was never challenged for the lead after the opening laps, the rain race was far from a snoozer, as the race saw drivers mixing it up from the front to the back despite the challenging and changing conditions.
Joining Caddell on the Mustang Challenge podium were two drivers making their debut appearances in the post-race champagne and trophy celebrations, as Jason von Kluge finished second with Dan Aweida fighting his way to take third after the trio had a race-long battle with Ted Anthony Jr, who came home in fourth.
Steve Phillips' gutsy pre-race call to run the race on dry-condition BFGoodrich g-Force R-1 tires netted him yet another top-five finish, as the rest of the field made the most of the BFGoodrich KDW precipitation tire.
Pratt Cole held off young Ben Crosland at the checkered flag to take sixth, as Homestead pole winner Joe Lee Middlebrooks brought his Metro Motorsports Mustang home in eighth ahead of George Winkler, with Brad Adams rounding out the top ten finishers.
The win was a welcome points boost for Caddell, who has now made five runs to the podium in Mustang Challenge competition in 2009.
"We had a good car ready to go for a dry, but it was also just great in the rain and Kaufman Racing just had the car completely hooked up and I could put it anywhere I wanted to," said Caddell. "Ted was right there with me at the start, but I was just trying to get a good gap and then maintain the lead, so this turned out to be a good points day for us. I think we've got our mojo back!"
While Washington state native Caddell had been hoping for a rain race, it was the last thing that von Kluge was looking for on race day. But his run to second from deep in the field might have him doing a rain dance for future races.
"I really don't' have that much experience in the rain, and actually I've had some bad experiences in the rain before, so this is great," said von Kluge. "I want to thank Green Air Filters, I couldn't be here without them. Spraying champagne is the best, so I'm glad to be up here. That was the drive of my life so far. I had a great time out there, this was just a blast."
Flying Horse Motorsports pilot Aweida was thrilled with his race, having diced his way to the podium and enjoying every lap along the way after narrowly avoiding a problem just moments before the race start.
"I spun on the out lap before we came to the grid-and it was a good indication of how really slippery it was out there," said Aweida, who had also set a career-best qualifying result on Saturday. "So that got my attention and I put that to use in the race. I haven't run in the rain for a long time, but I love to race out in it, you have to be so precise. And it was a really tight race, so to race my way ahead and get up here on the podium is great."
Starting from the front row, Anthony Jr. had high hopes for reducing his points deficit to Caddell in the championship, but will now have to focus on the next race out West to do that after coming home 4th at the checkered flag.
"It was not an ideal day for us," said Anthony Jr. "Even though I'm from Seattle and I love running in the rain, the car was just a roller skate today and there was nothing I could do. I tried to hold those guys (Aweida and Von Kluge) off, but they got me at the end. If this would have been a drifting competition, I'd have been all set, Vaughn Gittin Jr. style, just sideways! Jason and Dan pushed me the whole time, and Andrew just put on a clinic out there. We'll get them next time."
The New Jersey Motorsports Round was a fruitful one for von Kluge, who not only got to hoist his first Mustang Challenge trophy on the day, but he also scored two BFGoodrich Tires as his run from tenth to 2nd at the finish netted him the BFGoodrich "Take Control" Award in the post-race ceremonies.
Winkler Takes "Go Pro Be A Hero" Honors--George Winkler won the GoPro "Be A Hero" award for his sportsmanship and dedication to the Mustang Challenge Series. Winkler had been hoping to make more progress in the race, but was still happy to come home with another top ten result.
"I've run this car in a lot of other series, and I love racing this Mustang in the rain," said Winkler. "So I really thought we could end up a little further ahead today, but after the weekend didn't start off perfectly for us, we'll take it!"
Thanks to the corner workers and staff at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Round 6 of the Mustang Challenge championship will be staged in two weeks time at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.