Joe Foster and Scott Maxwell brought the Multimatic Motorsports Mustang Boss 302R to its first-ever podium finish at the Continental Tire Grand Am 200 at Daytona International Speedway on Friday. The full grid of 33 Grand Sport (GS) entries 45 Street Tuner (ST) delivered an action packed race that was peppered by six full course cautions, including one that ended the race after 62 laps.
Foster had qualified the #15 Boss 302R Mustang in third place to start the race with a qualifying lap time of 1:57.228 (109.33 mph). Matt Bell placed the #9 Stevenson Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro in P5 with a time just three tenths of a second slower (109.03 mph). The Daytona track was repaved earlier this year and driver reaction has been universally favorable.
The weather was fair and sunny on Friday afternoon with temperature of 63 degrees Fahrenheit (17 degrees Celsius) when the green flag fell. Bell managed to move the #9 Camaro into third as the field thundered around the opening lap. On the next lap, Tom Nastasi pulled the #5 TPN Racing/Blackforest Motorsports Dodge Challenger off track, with smoke escaping from the car.
Photos: Grand Am
Roush Performance arrived in Daytona full of hope, with two cars and two new drivers. Hopes for the new #61 Boss 302R were dashed when Jack Roush Jr. hit the tire barrier heavily in turn one. “We had no brakes going into [turn] one. I tried to avoid hitting the #15, I braked a little earlier than he did and just couldn’t stop,” Roush explained.
Fairing better for the race was last year’s Roush Performance car, now wearing #51 and driven by newcomers Roly Falgueras and Shelby Blackstock. The two brought the pony home in 18th place and on the same lap as the leader. Blackstock, by the way, is the son of TV star and country singer, Reba McEntire, who was at the race to cheer her son on. When asked how his Mom enjoyed the track, he beamed, saying, “She loved it. She had the best time I think she’s ever had.”
While the debris in turn one was cleaned up, the running order was Nick Longhi in the #13 BMW, Joe Foster driving the #15 Multimatic Motorsports Boss 302R, Matt Bell in the #9 Stevenson Camaro, Charles Putman with the #48 BMW M3 and Bret Seafuse in the new #52 Rehagen Racing/JBS Racing Boss 302R.
Foster would inherit the race lead on lap 11 when Longhi pitted for a driver change. By lap 14, Matt Bell in the #9 Camaro moved up to second place and Joey Atterbury driving the #62 Camaro was in third. Both Bell and Foster pitted a dozen laps later. Canadian Scott Maxwell took over as driver of the #15 Mustang Boss 302R.
One lap later, the #62 Camaro pitted and Lawson Aschenbach took over driving chores. The top of the lap chart is now dominated by BMWs. Maxwell takes on the mission of recovering position and gets a boost on lap 34 when the #9 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GS.R parks in turn 3. Rookie driver, Shelby Blackstock in the #51 Mustang, moves to the front of the order for two laps until he pitted to hand control over to Roly Falgueras.
Maxwell has been storming through the field and on lap 54, he pushes the #15 Boss 302R past Bill Auberlen in the #96 BMW for second place. Within two laps, Maxwell is just a third of a second behind the race leader, Matt Plumb. Two laps later, a pair of dicing ST cars put an end to the race by wadding it up in turn 1, with four laps remaining. The race ended under a full course caution.
Bracketed by BMW drivers on the podium, Foster was philosophical about the result. “I’m happy with the race. I wish we avoided some of those late yellows so I could have had a couple more go’s at the BMWs but overall our car was good. It was good on the tires, which was key at the end. We had some good traction, just lacking a bit of top end speed. It was a good day. Had a great dice with Bill; he was really tough but fair.”
In the #50 Finlay Motorsports Ford Mustang BOSS 302R, Rob Finlay and Steve Cameron qualified the car in 8th spot and finished the race in 12th. On their new Boss 302R, Finlay commented, “It’s fantastic. I’ve driven the other Mustangs and this BOSS 302 is fantastic. It’s great power, great handling let’s just say it’s a great overall car.”
Series newcomers, Tony Buffomante and Kyle Gimpel qualified the #68 Capaldi Racing Mustang GT in P18 and finished in 17th place. Both drivers were regulars in last year’s Mustang Challenge series. Buffomante took over the car midway and wrestled with tire issues for while. “Everybody was dicing and slicing going through there. It was a good job for the Capaldi Racing 68; for us, first time out, finished with all the fenders on and got a top 20,” he commented after the race.
Veterans Dean Martin and Brett Seafuse started the #52 Rehagen Racing Ford Mustang BOSS 302R in 6th place but ended the race in 23rd. Martin explained the result. “We had a fuel issue. We didn’t get as much fuel in the tank as we thought and we ran out a lap before we thought we were going to and that put us three or four laps down. We were competitive; we had a top five car, I think. Something just happened with the fuel cell.”
The #21 Frederick Motorsports Ford Mustang GT, driven by Scott Panzer and Todd Snyder started from P17 and finished 30th.
The Grand Am 200 race from Daytona Beach, FL, will be televised at 3:00 p.m. ET, February 5th, on Speed Channel. The next race in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge takes place in Homestead, FL, on March 4 – 5.