July 08, 2013 | By Bruce Martin
Chevy Teams Keep Rolling Grand-AM After Successful Trip To The Glen
Chevrolet and its iconic Corvette have been off to a fast start this season in the GRAND-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and are intent on continuing that success Friday, July 26 when they hit the bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard Grand Prix – part of Kroger Super Weekend at the Brickyard.
Chevy scored an impressive victory June 30 in the Sahlen’s Six Hours at The Glen at Watkins Glen International with Joao Barbosa and his new co-driver, Christian Fittipaldi, driving to victory in the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype. It was the second consecutive win and third-straight podium finish for Barbosa and Fittipaldi this season, but they weren’t the only Chevy drivers to experience success in the Finger Lakes Region of New York.
John Edwards and Robin Liddell drove the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R to the win in the Rolex Series Grand Touring Class (GT), also for the second consecutive year. The pair combined to lead a race-high 67 laps of the 164 run by the leaders in the GT class.
It is the fourth victory in the last five races for Edwards and Liddell, and closed the team to within six points of the leaders in the GT class standings.
Edwards and Liddell have been a hot combination in GRAND-AM lately and hope to continue that competitive edge in three weeks at IMS.
“Last year, we won this race and we were pretty dominant here, to be fair, last year,” Liddell said of the Watkins Glen performance. “The chassis have always been good right here, and obviously the guys, we’ve got probably the best crew out there. We’ve all in all got the best team in pit lane, I think.
“Obviously, I think everybody made a massive contribution on the team. John hung on there when it was raining, on slicks. We were just trying to keep him calm and not worry too much about dropping time to the No. 69 because we knew it was going to turn into a mess, which it did. And then obviously we were still on slicks, and they’d gone to wet. So confidence in the guys to do that, and if we made a mistake, we made a mistake.
“But ultimately, we didn’t really have a car which we could drive away with. We had a car that was competitive, but not one that we could lead the rest of the pack, as last year. So we had to work a lot harder. But some good calls getting the car in just before that caution got us track position, and then near the end there just stopping a bit out of sequence to get track position in case it went yellow. I was really expecting some rain at the end, or a late caution, but it didn’t come. I just kept my head down and kept reeling off the laps.”
Edwards was on the sidelines as he watched his co-driver deal with the track conditions that played a factor in the race.
“It was really tough, especially with the changing conditions,” Edwards said. “I’ve always said I prefer to be in the car at the end because sitting on the pit stand I just get a nervous twitch going on with my leg. That is the worst part of the race for me. When I got out of the car, that was the most nervous part for me. Ultimately, the car was good in the dry, and we were hoping it wouldn’t rain because those conditions are really tough, and you might throw it off even if you are as good of a driver as anyone can be.”
The No. 3 8Star Motorsports Corvette also finished second in DP as team owner Enzo Potolicchio started the race before turning the wheel over to Stephane Sarrazin and Michael Valiante for the final portion of the six-hour endurance race.
“It was great to be paired with Stephane (Sarrazin),” Valiante said. “We hit it off right away. He is a fantastic driver. I’m really happy to be with the team and him. Everything went to plan. We had a few hiccups, but we were so close at the end. It was a really tough race.
“Stephane has done a great job all weekend. If anything, the traffic was really tough at the end. Going up the chicane, I lost four seconds because two GT cars decided to race me. I was alongside of them, and that really cost us a lot of time. We can’t complain. The team has done an amazing job. It’s my first year with the team. Stephane and my first race together, so for a podium, I am happy. But, I really wanted to win.”
The two Corvette Daytona DP teams that came into the race first and second in the standings suffered setbacks early in the race. The No. 10 Velocity Worldwide Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP had a mechanical issue with the shifter linkage on the opening lap of the race. The team was able to make repairs, and the car driven by Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor returned to competition. The team finished 10th in the race.
“Well, we started off the day by going down five laps because of something that happened on the very first lap, and that is an incredible thing to try and get back, even in a six-hour race,” team owner Wayne Taylor said. “We managed to get almost back onto the lead lap at the end. The two cars we’re racing for the championship had issues today, as well, but the 5 (Corvette DP of Fittipaldi and Barbosa) and a few of the other teams have closed the points gap right up. It’s going to be a battle all the way to the end this year. I’ve got to hand it to our guys. Max and Jordan and all the guys refused to get down and kept us going out there. It’s onward and upward from here.”
The No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP driven by Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney came into the race second in the standings, but also had to battle back from a mechanical problem early in the event.
In the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race June 29 at the Glen, the No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GS.R led the way for Team Chevy posting a sixth-place finish.
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