Buffomante Patient and Aggressive On Way to Ford Racing Mustang Challenge Victory at Watkins Glen WATKINS GLEN, NY (6 June 2010) Just hours after taking a third consecutive Ford Racing Mustang Challenge pole position in qualifying, Tony ...
Buffomante Patient and Aggressive On Way to Ford Racing Mustang Challenge Victory at Watkins Glen
WATKINS GLEN, NY (6 June 2010) Just hours after taking a third consecutive Ford Racing Mustang Challenge pole position in qualifying, Tony Buffomante pulled the No. 34 Capaldi Racing.com machine into Gatorade Victory Lane at Watkins Glen after losing the lead early, and then fighting back to a victory. Mike McGovern made an assertive return to Mustang Challenge competition with his run to second at the finish as Pratt Cole recovered from a spin to come home third in a race that ran in challenging and changing conditions.
"Pratt and Mike were better in the rain than I was, no doubt about it," said Buffomante, who has had such bad luck at the track that he's called it his 'kryptonite.' "There was nothing I could do with them. I was just trying to be patient and hoping it would dry off quickly because I knew we'd have pace to run with them. I made a move on Mike, and there was another car (Kyle Gimple) in the inside going into turn one, and we were beating and banging a little bit.
"I was hoping we didn't knock the toe out--I finally got a run on Mike going down the back into the bus stop and have enough of a gap so he couldn't defend," continued Buffomante. "He was really clean through there, we went though the bus stop side by side. Then I just worked on Pratt. I kept getting quicker and quicker and I got a good run and he tried to defend, but it was wet where he as and I was able to sneak by. From there, I just put my head down to run some laps. The Capaldi Racing guys did a great job, and I'm happy about how this championship is looking right now!"
As Al Robinson made the call to start the Ford Mustang FR500S race engines, the track was damp with a stiff wind blowing. Teams had to make the decision about which BFGoodrich Tire would be best, and the universal choice was for the dry-weather tire.
At the start, a five way battle for the lead quickly developed, as the conditions made for a different challenge for the drivers on every tour of the 3.4-mile "Grand Prix" circuit. Pratt Cole moved to the front early, with McGovern moving ahead to second as Buffomante chased in third. Kyle Gimple and Jason von Kluge made it a five-way battle in the early stages.
On lap four, von Kluge made the move to pass lead championship threat Buffomante, only to suffer from a brake issue that saw him straightline the chicane and be forced to cede the spot.
As the lead pack worked to sort itself out, another tight battle brewed further back as Jim Click, Chip Scarlett, Marv Weidner, and David Rosenblum traded positions and close lap times as the series made its debut race visit to the legendary track.
Despite the lap-to-lap changes of conditions, grip, and temperature, the 45-minute race was another exemplary show of grip from the BFGoodrich Tires as well as skill from the entire Mustang Challenge field of drivers, as the full race distance ran flag to flag under green conditions as the laps clicked off without incident.
With Ford Racing Miller Performance Center driving coach Joe Foster keeping an eye on things at the bus stop chicane, he had a bird's eye view for a key position change as Buffomante got the edge on Cole.
"The rain came and went-you would go around one lap and it would be dry and you could really stand on it," said Cole. "Then the next time you came around, it'd be all wet and you had to make big adjustments every two or three laps. Every time it got wet, Tony ran me down. We went up to the bus stop and I got defensive and ended up going just a few too many feet past the braking marker and I went right through the chicane and gave him the spot. I spun the car, actually, so recovering and coming back to take third feels pretty good! No one touched me, laid a fender on me, or anything. It was just me going too fast! Tony did an excellent job today, congrats to him."
"Tony did a great job--no mistakes at all, so congratulations to him he had us covered today," said McGovern from the podium. "My start went well, and there was a lot happening the whole race. It was interesting with the rain--I was hoping it was going to keep on raining but when it dried out a little bit, there was nothing I could do. Thanks to Jim Click and to everyone on this Jim Click Racing team. A huge effort from everyone and I'm happy to be up here celebrating thanks to thier hard work. It was a great race and I had a lot of fun."
The three-way run into the turn one saw Gimple emerge with some ground to cover, but the young racer has stamped his name as one to watch in the coming races.
"I had a run on Tony and McGovern and I thought I was ahead going into one and I got down to the apex, but there wasn't enough room and I ended up spinning," said Gimple, who also picked up his third consecutive Sunday Group Management "Rookie of the Race" award as the top finishing rookie, and will have $150 donated in his name to the Austin Hatcher Foundation. "I had to work my way all the way back up to fourth. All in all, the race was going well until that happened! I just had to keep my head down and work my way back. Overall, it was a very good day."
Despite the flag-to-flag green, the racers were still bunched tightly even in the final run to the checkered flag. Gimple recovered to score fourth at the finish, with Jim Daniels scoring fifth ahead of double-duty racer Steve Phillips. Dan Aweida netted the BFGoodrich "Take Control" Award for his forward progress up to seventh, with three-time race winner von Kluge looking forward to making another run to the podium next time out after taking eighth on Sunday. George Winkler added to his top-ten results with a clean run to ninth in the Winkler Automotive Service Center Mustang as Richard Golinello rounded out the top ten in his rookie year.
Watkins Glen Special Awards:
Rich Golinello continues to make a name for himself in Mustang Challenge competition, with the Watkins Glen round seeing the Florida resident netting the GREENFilterusa.com "We're Going Green" Award for scoring the most positions on the opening lap.
Dan Aweida's strong season continued as he brought home the BFGoodrich "Take Control" award as he moved up to score seventh at the finish.
BF Goodrich Tires "Take Control" Award: Dan Aweida GREEN Filters Fast First Award: Richard Golinello Sunday Group Management "Rookie of the Race": Kyle Gimple
A thanks to the staff at Watkins Glen International as well as all the corner workers who braved the conditions on race day!
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will mark round seven of the 11-race championship in two weeks' time as the Series re-joins the GRAND-AM EMCO Gears Classic.