Tire management key to winning at Barber
Barber Motorsports Park is notorious for being tough on tires across many series. A combination of the track configuration coupled with the track surface and number of tire sets GRAND-AM allows, make tire management a key factor during a race. And while tire management was certainly a consideration at this week's GRAND-AM race, the Continental tires did a fantastic job of bringing each team across the finish line.
The Rolex Series was first to race with a total of 28 cars in the field. The Spirit of Daytona team took the DP lead early on with Richard Westbrook at the wheel and the No. 90 Chevy Corvette dominated the remainder of the 2.5-hour race. Patience and finesse were imperative to this race where the track surface was a challenge for every team, but Westbrook and Antonio Garcia had the upper-hand as they paced themselves and brought home the team's first career GRAND-AM win and the first win for the Corvette in DP.
"From what I understand last year, I think the first two hours doesn't really matter," said Garcia during a post-race media interview. "You are one, two, five, or even 50 seconds ahead of the other contenders but if you have your tires in really bad shape, then all your efforts are no good. That's what I was keeping in my head for the whole race especially that last set of tires, the last stint."
The teams that got their set-up just right in conjunction with managing their tires prevailed at the end of the GT race. The No. 70 Mazda team of Sylvain Tremblay and Joathan Bomarito did an excellent job of racing up front while managing their Continental tires to bring home the GT win.
"Strategy is everything." Tremblay continued, "Having the patience and the discipline here to manage your tires not only throughout the week, but throughout the race was huge."
The Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series got off to a rough start as 75 cars took the green flag late Saturday afternoon. Cars dove four and five wide into the first turn causing two multi-car accidents and delaying a complete green flag lap for almost 45 minutes. Once the field got going it was a battle between cars and the weather. As the 2.5-hour race drew to a close, ominous clouds loomed over the track and it looked as if the GS and ST classes would finish on rain tires. The field remained on slicks as rain drops fell during the closing 10 minutes of the race, a 10 minute sprint to the finish.
While running a Porsche Carrera for the first time, the Rum Bum Racing team of Matt Plumb and Nick Longhi took the GS win by a mere .618 seconds over the second-place BMW M3. In the ST class, BimmerWorld took home their first win since 2010 with Gregory Liefooghe and David Levine behind the wheel of the No. 81 BMW 328i.
The GRAND-AM Series is back on track April 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with coverage on Speed and MRN.