Torquespeed's John Mickel pulled off a sensational victory on Rockingham Motor Speedway's 1.5 mile oval at Northamptonshire, England on Sunday and clinched the inaugural ASCAR Mintex Cup. Mickel had stormed to pole position with the fastest lap...
Torquespeed's John Mickel pulled off a sensational victory on Rockingham Motor Speedway's 1.5 mile oval at Northamptonshire, England on Sunday and clinched the inaugural ASCAR Mintex Cup.
Mickel had stormed to pole position with the fastest lap ever seen on the superspeedway after the Torquespeed team worked on the setup of the number 24 car. Team owner Paul Musselle said later " John and our crew chief Alan (Mickel) chased the setup all day and just got quicker and quicker, that was just an incredible lap to take pole."
In the first race of two the driver of the Clarion/Latimer Group Chevy Monte Carlo battled nose to tail with Dutchman Michael Vergers number 3 car, the two swapping positions until a caution mid-race saw the field head for the pit road for tyres. Another very quick stop by the Torquespeed over the wall gang put the 24 car back out first. "The late night pit practice has certainly paid off, we were out here 'til 8.30pm last night in the dark just drilling the stops" crew chief Mickel reported.
The second set of tyres weren't as good as the first and the car developed push or understeer. The West-Tec car took advantage and squeezed through leaving Vergers the winner of the opener with Torquespeed's Mickel second.
Calculaters buzzed in the Torquespeed pit, Mickel needed to win the second race with Vergers 6th or worse in order for the 24 team to be champions.
Grid postions were determined by the result of the first race putting the two rivals on the front row for the 60-lap showdown as wet-weather threatened overhead.
The 3-car took the early lead until an incredible move by Mickel in turn four rocked the Dutchman and saw The Eliminator go to the front. An early caution on lap 14 following a spin on the front straight by Amanda Stretton saw officials open the pit lane for mandatory tyre stops. The Torquespeed team took what looked like a brilliant decision when they dived to the pits first. Incredibly Vergers opted not to stop at that time prefering, it seemed, to wait until later.
Mickel rejoined down in 5th place after another lightening service and soon after the track went green, again he was on the move, charging up behind the 3-car to challenge for the lead again but also knowing that the 3 had yet to pit. The West-Tec crew were stunned at the move which had clearly unsettled their driver too.
A further caution on lap 32 saw the 3-car again failing to pit, leaving officials left with no chocie other than to applied a stop/go penalty. With Mickel now right on the rear of the 3-car, Vergers and his team appeared to recognise they had made a bad call but still refused to pit for the stop/go penalty despite pleas from officials. Not suprisingly the black flag was shown to the Dutchman who finally stopped two laps later as Mickel blasted by on his way to victory and the Championship.
"This has been a true team performance" Mickel said in victory lane. "What a call by Alan, Paul and Lisa to get me in quickly. We didn't mess about, we came straight in as soon as the officials opened the pit lane having told everyone that due to the closing weather, this was the mandatory stop window. I feel sorry for the driver of the 3-car, they made a really bad call and it's messed with his head. We've had some great racing this year but at the end of the day we all know you have to make a stop and I couldn't believe it when he refused to."
Mickel added "The team gave me a really fast car, it was on rails there for most of the time, this is a great day after all the hard work from the team and the incredible support we've had from Latimer, Clarion and the Hilton (Corby), from all our technical partners; Autocom, Eibach springs, Teng Tools, WVR and Signtek and so many other people who have believed in us, we've proved we can deliver."