CJ WILSON RACING MAKES STATEMENT WITH FRONT-RUNNING RESULT IN BARBER 200
-- MILLER LEADS MOST LAPS WHILE SAINI/MCCUMBEE SCORE TOP 5 RESULT IN SECOND EVER GRAND AM START --
CJ Wilson Racing took advantage of the twisty circuit at the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Barber 200 to make a statement in only their second start as a team. Jason Saini and Chad McCumbee finished fourth in the team's nimble No. 03 ModSpace/Construct Corps/CJ Wilson Children’s Charities Mazda MX-5. Marc Miller and co-driver Bruce Ledoux led the 40-car ST-field for 39 laps in a bid to give CJ Wilson Racing its first ST victory before a late-race penalty for passing the pace car forced the team to a 27th place finish in their No. 04 ModSpace/Guardian Angel Motorsports Mazda MX-5.
“I can’t thank this CJ Wilson Racing team enough, especially our technical partners at LRC, for putting together new cars that can run out front,” said Saini, who took over the #03 car from teammate, McCumbee, before the halfway point. “The most exciting part for me is that we’re still developing our cars and our team, so everything from our car performance to our pit stops will get better. The teams and drivers in this series are so strong; it’s really the most competitive environment to be tested in. We are proud to be able to contribute to Mazda being only two points out of the manufacturer’s standings lead.”
Miller started the No. 04 from the 2nd position and battled for the lead before inheriting the lead during the second caution period after going off-sequence with their pit-stop strategy. From there, the rookie driver led 39 straight laps, pulling away with each green flag run. With severe weather coming, the pairings only hope was to push hard and hope for the weather to put Ledoux out in rainy conditions on wet weather tires, something he exceled at in the opening laps in the opening round at Daytona. The strategy was hurt by a late-race penalty, however, for passing the pace car prior to their pitstop.
“Our strategy changed constantly over the race and we were very unlucky with timing of the yellows,” said Miller. “Our pace was great even on old tires and if the rains only came five minutes earlier, I am positive you would have seen Bruce able to go out and put the car on the podium. Before our driver change, officials informed us to go around the pace car, so we did and by the time they corrected us, it was too late and we had to serve a penalty. While we are disappointed with the final result, we had a great showing for the team, partners and the Guardian Angel Motorsports charity.”
The pairing of McCumbee and Saini utilized a more conventional strategy and with the many cautions was able to gain good track position by the end of the race. Saini fought his way to the top-5 and was fighting for a podium finish before having to settle for 4th across the stripe.
“Now we are looking forward to developing the cars a bit more before the next race, and asserting ourselves as one of the teams to beat in Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge ST racing,” continued Saini. “We’ve got great partners and supporters, and it’s an exciting time with CJ starting his new tenure with the LA Angels.”
The team will enter their two Mazdas MX-5’s in the upcoming round of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, the Kia 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on April 28. For a schedule or ticket information, visit www.Grand-Am.com.