Welcome to round #2 of the 2010 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge! Between the last time I wrote to you and now there have been some shake-ups in the TC Motorsports camp. The owners and drivers of the #55 Riley Camaro have changed teams, and are now racing the #62 Camaro (same car, different number). Meanwhile, several factors combined to inspire us to give the fine folks at Ford Racing a call. A few conversations later, and we are now the proud owners of a brand new Ford Mustang Boss 302R!... [read more]

We thought we had gotten through all of the new-car blues with our #54 Camaro, but we had a whole new set of them with our new #14 Boss 302R. Fortunately, the list was short and sweet, allowing Rick and I ample track time to get used to the new car and start dialing it in. The base setup we received with the car was very good, and only needed minor adjustments to make the car ready for the race.

Friday evening Rick got in the car to qualify, and I think he let his nerves get the better of him. He turned in a little early for NASCAR turns 3 and 4, nipped the apron and it spat him up toward the wall. He nearly missed touching, but had a small glance and nicked the mirror and the fenders. No major damage occurred, other than to Rick’s self confidence. He acquitted himself nicely though, putting his head down and running his fastest time of the weekend, qualifying 19th on the grid.

Saturday morning brought one final practice, and the TC Motorsports crew took the opportunity to practice pit stops and driver changes. I managed to go the quickest I’d gone all weekend in that short session, giving us plenty of confidence for race time. Unfortunately, we had a small miscue leaving pit lane on the way to grid, and our #14 Mustang (along with 8 more of our closest competitors) was unable to make it out of pit lane before it closed. We were surprised and disappointed to learn that this meant that we had to start from pit lane (that is, we lost our 19th place grid position AND had to watch the entire field drive by before they released the cars stuck in pit lane).

Once released from pit lane, Rick put his head down and started making his way forward. After just over an hour Rick pitted under a full course caution in 11th place. After a quick stop changing all four tires and adding 20 gallons of Sunoco race fuel, I was back on track in 29th place. This was my first long run in our new Boss 302R, but it was not my first long run at Homestead-Miami Speedway. I was fortunate enough to race there last year in the Mustang Challenge (I even won one of the races!), and the most valuable thing I learned about the track is that it is slick. It only took 5 laps for me to overheat my tires. In this time I had made up several spots, but in the ensuing laps, I dropped a couple of places while my tires cooled.

I adjusted my driving to take better care of the tires and brakes, thinking I would sacrifice my lap times for longevity (for the end of the race). Lo and behold, the team radios to me that my times are even with the leaders, and to keep doing what I was doing! Methodically I began to reel in my competitors, and soon Carlo came on the radio to tell me that I was in 4th place!

Shortly after, I got a sputter, and had to pit for fuel. The crew took the opportunity to give me two new right-side tires at the same time. I exited the pits with about 15 minutes to go in the race, and I also discovered that the 1st and 2nd place cars had gotten around me while I was in the pits. I thought to myself, “I guess we’re a lap down. Oh well, let’s see if we can hang with the fast guys!” The race restarts with 5 laps to go and I’m right on Terry Borcheller’s rear bumper and Craig Stanton in the BGB Cayman S on my bumper… and that’s where I stay! I finished the race in 19th place overall, but I showed that our new Ford Racing Mustang Boss 302R can run with the fastest cars and drivers the Continental Tire Challenge has to offer. The crew did a fantastic job, Rick drove a great stint, and although our results weren’t the best, our performance was excellent and I cannot wait until Barber Motorsports Park in April. Our TC Motorsports team gets better each and every weekend; it’s only a matter of time before we’re fighting for the top spot!

Photo: Curtis Creager
Editorial: Ted Anthony Jr.

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