For immediate release
Colorado Springs Colorado
October 4, 1999
(Press release complements of Toad Hall Racing)
The day is very cold. We stayed in Colorado Springs and the windshield on the Tahoe was frozen this morning. It is ski jacket and knit cap weather. The mornings practice session goes well. We made some changes after qualifying and hoped to go better. Although we were not as fast as we were yesterday, we were the fastest in the morning warmup. We are very hopeful for the race although we are starting from the second row. This is an interesting track. One like we have not driven before. The track is a 1 mile oval with a road course inside. Thus, the road course which we run totals 1.3 miles. The course uses 2/3 of the oval which has a 10 degree bank. And although the distance on the oval made it look like it would favor the high horsepower cars, we were able to use the Porsche’s handling to our benefit to get through the fast section of the course actually a little bit faster than the big cars.
By race time, the weather has warmed up only a bit. We are told that the weather is sunny only 5 miles away, but it is still cloudy and cold here. Probaly less than 50 degrees. We decide to start with the set-up that worked in the morning warmup. We exect it to be a tough race. Before the race a TV announcer asks me what we hope to do. I tell him that it is essential that we not only win the race, but that we must lead the most laps and keep Bobby Archer who is leading in the points from leading a single lap. If we do that, we will take over the lead if he is fourth or worse, but we will be close if he is 2d or third.
At the start of the race we are third into turn one. John Heinricy in a Corvette leads the first lap. Bill Cooper who was grided second passes John after the first lap and leads the second lap, we are a very close third. I am waiting for an opening and on the third lap we get it. We get a good run on the oval and are very close when Cooper who is leading slows, we get inside him and Heinricy at a hairpin in the infield and make the pass. Not a scratch. No rough stuff. 3 good drivers driving well. From then on during the race it probably seems uneventful from a ousider’s point of view.
We make a little ground on Heinricy early, but I notice that Archer is rigght with him and we need to get away form Archer, but it is important that we win. This is a very mentally draining race.
Heinricy is never out of my mirrors. We start to gain ground on Archer, but the Corvette never is more than 2 seconds back. We push hard. I would like to build a safe lead, but we just can’t get away from him. Turns 1 and 2 are very difficult each time. That is the place we need to make up time and it is scarry each time. Drive down low in turn one and put your foot full to the floor. The car slides up the banking toward the concrete wall comming out of turn two, but you have to do it each time or you just don’t go fast. Courage my friend…it takes bunches of courage. As we encounter traffic it works to our advantage early in the race, but it works against us late.
With two laps to go, we have led from laps 3 to 43 and I keep thinking, ‘you have led most of the race, you damn well better lead the lap that counts.’ We encounter infield traffic and I start around a car that moves the way I don’t expect and I am blocked and the Corvette is right there. He almost hits me as I move back in front of him and around the slower car coming through the last turn. 2 laps to go and the Corvette is not 10 feet behind me. Reach deep. Turn one is tough but this is no time to be a whimp. Drive in, hold my breath and feel the car slide right up to the wall. Not 2 feet separates me from the wall and I will not lift off the gas. At 140 MPH it looks really hard. But we make it, and the car doesn’t wiggle. We have gained 10 yards on the Corvette as we head back into the infield. Don’t make any mistakes here. My crew chief David Moore says “One to go…you can do it” and I think, ‘I sure hope so’. As I come out of the infield with one lap to go, I am a tad bit too fast and the rear of the car slides toward the wall a bit. Correct, lift off the gas, ‘damn it’ I have given the Corvette an opening for the last time into turn 1 and 2. Dig deep again. Same drill. Stay low, gas on hard early and hope you did it right, you won’t get another chance. Perfect. The car gets right up to the wall and we now have and extra 10 yards. Through the infield. Back out on the banking and the Corvette is centered in my rear view mirror. He is clearly behind us and we take the checkered flag. How sweet it is. On the last lap the crew radios that Archer had been passed and that he was in forth place. We calculate the points over the radio on the cool-off lap and we believe we are in the points lead with one race to go. This was a very tough race. When pushed like this in the past I might have crumbled, but we didn’t have a choice if we hoped to win the championship. A good drive and a great job by the crew. David once again did a great job in getting the car ready. Mark and Robie who helped out over the weekend did a good job getting us through qualifying and ready for the race and I was happy that David flew in just before the race to be with us. One race left. Laguna Seca next weekend. Stay tuned.
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