New Jersey Motorsports Park
August 31, 2008
This great weekend started out with a promoter's test day. We were scheduled to have 2 on track sessions. But due to Scott Pruett's really bad crash in his Prototype race car, we ended up with only 1 session. Best news is that he was OK and raced later in the weekend. All on track activities were cancelled for the rest of the day to fix the pit wall and make it safer. They did this by lengthening the guardrail leading onto the front straight and adding more impact attenuators overnight. I think they did a great job under tough conditions.
In the 1 practice session we had during the promoters test day, I ended up 2nd to my teammate Terry Borcheller. I was only 0.02 behind.
The official practice day went very well. Terry was not at the track as he had other commitments in Detroit for the ALMS race. I ended up being fastest in both sessions of the day. I spent a lot of the day helping out my other teammate Andrew Hendricks and scuffing in some tires for Terry to race on. At the end of the day I was pretty confident going into qualifying.
Saturday we only had 1 session which was qualifying. I was feeling pretty good going into qualifying as we were the fastest car so far. I went out first because of season points and all my laps I had clear a clear track. I ran two 1:28.8's back to back and pulled in and watched what the others were able to do. I ended up getting the pole by a 0.1 and felt even better as everyone that was behind me ran about 10 laps on their tires and I only had ran 3.
Sunday our race wasn't until 4:15pm after the Rolex race and I had a great time watching this event hanging out in the Autohaus pits. The team did a great job and was in contention for the win until a mechanical problem took them out late in the race.
In the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge race, I got a good start and led coming out of turn 1. On the first lap my teammate Andrew Hendricks lost it in turn 3 and hit the tire wall and flipped over on his side. He was alright but they had to fix the tire wall which took a long time.
When we went back to green I got another good start and led coming out of the first turn. But strangely, I picked up a VERY bad vibration after the restart. I did not know what it was and it had me concerned so I was being a little cautious in the corners and especially cautious under braking.
With about 3 laps to go in the race the vibration went away just about as fast as it came. I ended up steadily pulling away from Jamie Slone and Carlo Sparacio to get my 3rd win of the year. When the vibration went away, I was able to turn the races fastest lap on my 15th of 16 laps.
StableOne and Autohaus provided me with the best Ford Mustang Challenge car in the paddock all weekend, but the win was made much easier as Terry had to start at the back. He ended up making it all the way up to 5th which was great for StableOne.
After the race weekend, my family and I spent 3 days visiting the sites in Washington DC before heading back home to the Pacific Northwest. We had a great time and I was also able to visit StableOne's offices outside of DC. It was cool getting to meet the folks behind the scenes for this race team.
We now have 67 point lead in the championship. I haven't even looked at what we have to do at the first race at Miller to clinch and probably will not. We just need to attack these last 2 races just like we have the first 6. Hard work and complete preparation always gives the best chance for good results.
I am really looking forward to going to Miller Motorsports Park as that is the home of the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge for the Miller Cup and it will be great to race these cars there. I have raced at the Miller Motorsports Park before, I won the MX5 Cup series race there last year and know (and like!) the track pretty well. More to come later.
Right now Andrew Caddell is on fire, leading the points for the inaugural Mustang Challenge for the Miller Cup racing series. We've been lucky enough to get Andrew and the guys from Ford Racing to give us more back story on the racing series and what it's like to be in one of these FR500S Mustang racers. This is Andrew's first blog for us, so it's a bit longer than the typical blog as he gets us up to speed on his racing in the Mustang Challenge series. Be sure to check back here for more from Andrew, as we'll get comments from him before and after each race throughout the rest of the series, and possibly some video. Also be sure to check out Andrew's own web site at www.andrewcaddell.com and the event series site at www.millercup.com for more photos, videos, and series related content.-Mark Houlahan, Editor
I am writing my first blog while snacking on peanut butter crackers on the long cross-country flight from Lime Rock to my home in Washington State. It has been a crazy year and I thought I'd write a little recap on how our 2008 race season has gone!
Starting with some lost sponsorship for the Mazda MX-5 Cup series, to a call from Carlo Sparacio and his TC Motorsports team offering to work together so I could run at least a couple of Miller Mustang Challenge races, with the hope more funding could be found so we could continue.
The start of the series was great with 2 wins in the first 2 races! With the prize money won from those 2 races as well as the additional prize of a set of BF Goodrich tires for the winning car, we were able to stretch the funding we had for 2 races into 3 events but after the Mid Ohio race, we just could not make another race. TC Motorsports really went out on a limb to help me get into the Miller Mustang Challenge series and I cannot thank them enough. I am pleased that Carlo got his first podium finish at Barber.
It was right about then that I got a call from the StableOne team. They had been watching how our season had gone and decided to offer me a ride with their team for the rest of 2008. We could not say yes fast enough! I had a few chances to talk with members of the team during the first 3 races and they were great guys and they also had the great crew from Autohaus prepping and supporting the cars.
Not only did I join StableOne for Round 4 at Barber Motorsports Park, but the team also brought Terry Borcheller onboard as well. This has been a huge help as Terry is so experienced and the first 2 races we ran together, I had not raced at the tracks. His knowledge has been such a benefit.
We have also been able leverage the invaluable data we gather from the Aim Sports data acquisition systems we have in the cars. After every session, we compare the data from all of the team drivers and look for areas we can improve the cars and drivers. Nothing good ever comes easy, the drivers on this team always work to get better and the team is continually is working on the cars to fine tune their handling. All of this work has been rewarded with StableOne drivers in 1st and 2nd place in the last 2 races in both qualifying and the race! Great results.
We are now finished with 5 rounds out of the 8 round season. I have been able to qualify in the top 2 and finish in the top 2 for all 5 races! With 4 Poles and 2 wins that add up to a lead in the all important season championship points race.
The season point championship can change the way you race individual races and that has happened to me. The past 3 races have given me opportunities to go for a pass that could have meant a win instead of a second place finish. But, the risk has never been low enough that it was worth risking losing the season points lead. So I have been just a little more conservative and it has paid off as my season points lead has grown the past 2 races with 2nd place finishes.
Now to the Lime Rock Race Report!
I started the weekend off a little ahead thanks to the Skip Barber School I went to a week and a half before the race. I got to follow Terry Borcheller around for the first 10 minutes of the practice. We were on old tires from Barber so it was a little slick out. Terry ended up fastest with a 58.4, Jamie Slone who was on new tires was 2nd with a 58.5 and I was 3rd with a 58.9. I felt really good where I was the first session out.
In the 2nd session I went out by myself this time as Terry was helping out our other teammate Andrew Hendricks. I was surprised to see my first lap come up a 58.5 and even more surprised when a 58.2 came up on the very next lap. Terry ended up going faster when he put down a 58.0, which was very fast. We had looked at the data from our AIM systems and saw a place I was slower than Terry at. I worked the whole session on the downhill at Lime Rock Park but was still about 3 miles per hour slower than Terry in that area.
Qualifying was later in the day at around 5 in the afternoon. It was raining on and off again and was a tricky choice for the tires. The team had rains on as it looked like it was going to rain harder but all the sudden it stopped and started to dry out. So we switched to dry tires and hurried to get out on the track as the rain was still threatening.
The track was still damp when we got out there but it started to dry up quickly. I got down to a 58.9 lap time and then it started to rain harder.
Terry waited on pit road for the track to dry out and I got on the radio as soon as I could to tell him it was sprinkling rain. He came out and was on a lap very similar to mine and got held up and put down a 59.2. Jamie Slone was 3rd with a 1:00.1. It was a great session for StableOne racing and Autohaus Motorsports for another 1-2 in qualifying.
Race day came and I was feeling pretty good about it. I got a good start and wasn't going to let Terry by me on the outside like he did to me at Barber. So I hung on and stayed on the inside of him, which gave him the inside of the next corner. I hung on the outside this time which gave me a bad angle to the next corner and he got by me going down No Name straight into the Uphill. So I was content to hang out behind Terry. I wasn't expecting Jamie to stay with us as we were pushing the pace pretty hard. I hung out until we had a caution with about 13 minutes left in the race. I got an ok restart and had to protect a little bit going into turn 1. It was the one place Jamie was better than us. Coming to the white flag I got a good run on Terry coming on the front straight but Jamie also got a good run on me. We all moved to the inside and Terry hit the brakes a little earlier than I was expecting and had to shoot to the outside. Jamie did the same behind me. I got back up to Terry but any chances were taken away when Jamie tried a pass in West Bend. It's a fast right-hander leading to the downhill. That gave Terry a pretty good margin although I don't think I could have got him down the straight.
It was a great weekend for StableOne Racing and Autohaus Motorsports. Two 1-2's in a row is a great way to start off the relationship with the teams. I am still the point leader and have more than a race's lead in the points. I got to thank StableOne Racing, Victory Lane Data, AIM Sports, and SafeRacer.com, and for making it possible to race in this great series.
What do we do from here? Well the next race is at another track I have not raced on, New Jersey Motorsports Park. We do however have some extra practice at this facility as part of the race weekend so we should be OK and then we visit Miller Motorsports Park in Utah to only the second track this year that I have raced at before! Last time there I won the final race in the 2007 MX-5 Cup series. The Mustang series will be running rounds 7 and 8 of the series on this double-header weekend.