Rum Bum Racing drivers Nick Longhi and Matt Plumb followed up their third-place finish at Mid-Ohio by winning the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge race at Road America on June 22nd, 2012. With the team’s third win of the season, they are back in command of the championship after their #13 Porsche engine pumped its coolant dry at New Jersey. #61 Roush Performance Mustang Boss 302 drivers Jack Roush Jr. and Billy Johnson finished second, and #83 BGB Motorsports Porsche drivers John Farano and David Epringham third.
The fourteen-turn, 4-mile track located in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin is legendary for many things—two of them being fantastic food off-track, and drama on-track. This year’s event didn’t disappoint fans in either respect.
While the test day was relatively trouble-free, the problems during practice and qualifying were a harbinger of things to come during the race. A huge one-car crash during the ST-class qualifying and an incident during GS-class qualifying cut both sessions short, with Doran Racing putting their Nissan 370Z on pole. Jack Roush Jr. drove the fastest Mustang, netting the eighth starting slot.
The green flag waved at the 6:15PM start, but the first lap was cut short when #51 Roush Performance Mustang driver Jade Buford and #62 Mitchum Motorsports Camaro driver George Richardson tangled before even reaching the starter’s stand. Before the yellow flag, Lawson Aschenbach moved his #01 Camaro to the lead ahead of the #13 Rum Bum Racing Porsche of Nick Longhi. Jack Roush Jr. was up to third.
After the race returned to green, Aschenbach and Longhi swapped the lead a couple times before Brett Spaude’s Subaru blew its engine and dropped oil in turn five. The race leader, Aschenbach was the first to arrive and slipped on the oil, driving his Camaro wide on turn exit. The slide handed the lead back to Longhi, before Aschenbach rejoined the race fourth. When #48 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW driver Charlie Putman slowed on the approach to turn five in anticipation of the slippery conditions, a following driver was caught off-guard and shoved Putman off-course and into the wall. The contact brought out the second yellow flag, which was thirty minutes into the race.
The leaders took the opportunity to pit for fuel, tires, and to change drivers. Among those who pitted, Billy Johnson (#61 Mustang) won the race off pit road after taking over for Jack Roush Jr., and rejoined the race in fifth. Johnson took the lead when the remainder of the field made pit stops a few laps later. Matt Plumb (who took the reins of the #13 Rum Bum Porsche) was running second. With just over an hour remaining, the teams reached the edge of their fuel window. Johnson held the lead until another full-course caution on lap 25 when the leading cars headed to pit lane for fuel and tires.
The shuffle handed the lead to Jordan Bupp (#7 Mustang Boss 302R), but Ian James (#158 Ford Mustang) passed Bupp for lead in turn one on the restart. Then Billy Johnson snatched the lead, followed by Matt Plumb in second. Another full-course caution came out for an ST-class incident, followed by an exciting restart. At the wave of the green, Billy Johnson and Matt Plumb ran side-by-side, with Johnson holding the lead until turn eight, where Plumb took the point.
Johnson tried valiantly to regain command of the race through two more re-starts in the last half-hour of the race, but Plumb and his Porsche’s superior braking performance were enough to hold off the horsepower of Johnson’s Mustang Boss 302R. Plumb finished the race a scant 0.611 seconds ahead of Johnson to take the checker after the two were nearly side-by-side two turns from the finish line.
Combine 61 closely-matched cars on a high-speed track in a series as competitive as the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, there’s bound to be a few bumps and bruises during the race. While the seven caution periods slowed the race action, they also bunched the field together for some outstanding green-flag track action.
Rum Bum Racing now leads the championship, with round seven of the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge series heading to Watkins Glen next weekend!
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