Modified Mustangs & Fords
Maxwell, Foster Win Grand Am Koni Title
Driving And Team Titlists, As Well As Race Winners, Give Ford Mustangs A Huge Day At VIR
Alton, Va. - Hugh and Matt Plumb dominated the middle and final stages of Sunday's Bosch Engineering Twin Six Hours, the season finale for the Grand-Am Koni Challenge Series Grand Sport class, giving themselves and Mike Canney a victory in the six-hour classic at Virginia International Raceway.
Hugh Plumb passed fellow Rehagen Racing and Ford Mustang GT driver Dean Martin on lap 144, then led Martin and TRG's Andy Lally and Spencer Pumpelly in a nose-to-tail battle to the checkered flag in a two-lap shootout. The leading quartet was separated by only 1.081 seconds, and the No. 59 Rehagen Racing Valvoline/Roush Performance Products Ford Mustang GT of Martin, Jack Roush Jr. and Ryan Phinny finished 0.208 seconds behind in the second closest finish in Koni Challenge Series history.
Like the race itself, the championship race came down to the final hour-and-a-half, with seven drivers fighting for the title. In the end, Scott Maxwell and Joe Foster finished fifth in the No. 55 Hyper Sport Ford Mustang GT, giving Maxwell his second GS title (2002 GSI) and Foster his first. They won the driving and owner titles by six points (248-242) ahead of Bret Seafuse and James Gue and JBS Motorsports, and the top seven drivers were separated by only 19 points (248-229).
Maxwell and Foster went without mechanical problems-though they encountered cosmetic damage from an early spin and were running two laps shy on fuel before the final caution-and all seven drivers were in the top 10 heading into the final pit stop. But mechanical woes plagued three of the four championship cars during the final hour.
Seafuse and Gue entered the race one point (222-221) behind Maxwell and Foster, but the team had to change brake pads and rotors on the No. 37 JBS Motorsports Trumansburg Shur Save Ford Mustang GT and start from the tail after finding problems on the recon laps. The team, which also served a 60-second stop-and-go penalty for running over pit equipment, managed to stay on the lead lap, and Gue battled Maxwell for a top-five finish. However, he faded in the final 45 minutes from a lost cylinder. They finished 10th, the final car on the lead lap.
Fuel delivery problems forced Jeff Segal and Jep Thornton to lose one lap for repairs, but they and another co-driver, Terry Borcheller, regained the lap and made their way back into the top five. However, the car slowed on lap 138 and Borcheller brought the car into the paddock for repairs. He took the No. 09 Automatic Racing Imported Car Store/Land Air BMW M3 back on the track a lap down, and finished 11th.
Craig Stanton led for the only time on lap 125, but was passed by Maxwell on the restart on the outside of Turn 1 and quickly fell to fourth two laps later. On lap 150, the No. 83 BGB Motorsports Performance Drink/Weeden Consultants Porsche 997 slowed due to engine failure, and Stanton and co-driver Jon Miller retired in 15th.
Though Maxwell passed Stanton on lap 126 and led 12 laps, his fuel situation forced him to into conservation mode. Martin took the point on lap 138, then held it until lap 144, when Hugh Plumb surged ahead. Hugh Plumb, Martin and Lally ran within a second before the final caution-which occurred due to dropped oil from Stanton's engine. Pumpelly joined the lead trio, but no one was able to get by Hugh Plumb, who gave Canney and Matt Plumb their first career GS victories. Matt Plumb-who last won in Koni Challenge with Hugh Plumb two years ago at VIR in the ST race-led a race-high 44 laps and the No. 60 Ford Mustang GT led 67 laps.
Overall, 13 drivers in eight cars combined for 19 lead changes, and seven cautions for 22 laps slowed the average speed of 84.184 mph.
Martin, Roush and Phinny, combined to lead 18 laps in the No. 59 Rehagen Racing Valvoline/Roush Performance Products Ford Mustang GT in earning their best finish and second podium of the season. Their previous best third was in July's race at Barber Motorsports Park.
TRG's two cars also finished strong. Lally led a lap in the No. 41 TRG Carlsen Porsche/Cohen Financial Porsche 997 he shared with Scott Schroeder and Peter Ludwig. Outside front row starter Pumpelly, meanwhile, stormed through the field in the final 10 laps in the No. 39 TRG Carlsen Porsche/TheDigiTrust Group Porsche 997 he shared with Duncan Ende.
Rehagen Racing's Ray Mason, Gene Martindale and Adam Pecorari also slipped into sixth near the end of the 155-lap race, driving the No. 52 Columbus Truck & Equipment Ford Mustang GT. Overall, four of the top six cars were Ford Mustang GTs, helping the marquee earn its first Koni Challenge Series championship. Ford bested Porsche by four points (313-309) and BMW-which entered the race leading the standings - by five (313-308).
Other notable drivers included polesitter Bill Auberlen-who led the first 22 laps and 24 overall-and Matthew Alhadeff, who finished 20th in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 after sustaining damage to the car's right side and mechanical problems late in the race. Andrew Davis, who flipped end-over-end multiple times in the No. 18 Motorsport Technology Group Morris Animal Foundation/Meisha's Hope BMW Z4 when his brakes failed, was uninjured in the race's most spectacular incident of the day. Davis and Billy Johnson finished 24th.