posted: July 22, 2010
It's been an up and down year for #6.2 Mitchum Motorsports Riley Technologies Chevrolet Camaro and myself in the 2010 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season. Round eight at New Jersey Motorsports Park held true to form.
The team was coming off a bit of a down weekend at Mid-Ohio where we were running in the top 10 with just 10 minutes left, when we had an incident that put us a lap down. We were looking for a fresh start after the disappointment in Ohio. Ted Anthony, Jr, my new co-driver was joining for this race as well as the remaining two this year so we had a lot on our plate and we were anxious to get underway for this incredibly hot and humid race weekend.
Driving with Ted was a great success for the team this weekend. Mitchum Motorsports made more progress with the car during this single race weekend than we had all year! Both Ted and I were feeling the same dynamics in the car and were able to point out problem areas to the team and the car kept getting faster and faster throughout the practice sessions.
From the moment we arrived at the track the whole team was feeling the hot and humid weather and was trying to stay hydrated in the 130+ degree track temperatures. We knew that the race was going to be brutal on both the drivers and crew so we did our best to hide from the heat.
Throughout the weekend the team knew that we had a consistent car, but I was a bit worried about our overall speed - until the last practice session. We threw Ted in the car and he put down a flier that put us P7 on the time charts and also the fastest Camaro in the field! We were not only consistent, but the car was finally getting some speed and I couldn't have been more pumped for race day!
It was a bit of an unusual place for me to be the slower of the two drivers and to qualify the car, but I really couldn't have asked for more out of Ted. We looked over data and compared our fast laps, sure enough we were faster in different sections of the track and with the help of our data engineer Tom Bobbitt, we were both able to learn where we needed to pick up our pace. I went out in qualifying and laid down the cars fastest lap of the weekend by over half a second; we would be starting the race from in the third row in fifth position! This was by far our best qualifying session of the season and the whole team was absolutely ecstatic and ready to go racing just a few short hours later.
When the green flag dropped I got a great jump and went three-wide into turn one with the #6 Camaro right on my bumper. The race settled down and we were running a very comfortable pace and were 'relaxing' in fourth place when it happened. I was exiting turn nine when the car stumbled and smoke started coming into the cabin, just a split second later the cockpit was engulfed in flames and I found myself driving for the nearest flag station. I was able to get out of the car quickly and the corner workers did an excellent job rushing to the car to put the fire out. That was the end of the race for us, another disappointing end to what was looking to be the best result of the season for the team.
I once again have to thank the safety workers for their efforts; they saved our #6.2 Camaro from being burned to the ground. Fortunately nothing structural was damaged in the car and you will see the flat black and yellow Camaro at round nine of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge in just a few short weeks. I think that this team has some unfinished business out on the track, we are working harder than ever to get on that podium and it is closer than it has ever been. Look for Mitchum Motorsports up front in the final two races of the season!