KohR Motorsports’ Kyle Marcelli and Nate Stacy gambled on fuel Saturday (July 7) in their Ford Mustang GT4. The gamble paid off as the duo claimed their third IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge victory of the season in the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park 120. The victory also gives Marcelli and Stacy the points lead.
To hear Marcelli explain it, the fuel gamble was not supposed to happen.
“My stint was quite stressful,” Marcelli said after the race. “It was a miscommunication on the radio. When we got the full-course caution I was behind the safety car in Turn 8 and Dean Martin, our crew chief, asked me my opinion on if we should take fuel only. I was giving my answer through Turn 9 and as I released the radio button, he was yelling ‘Pit, pit, pit’ and I already missed the pit entry.”
Ramsey Racing’s Alexandre Premat started from the pole in his Mercedes, but Multimatic Motorsports’ Patrick Gallagher was able to get the jump and snatch the advantage away. Despite the bad start, Premat showed that he still had an excellent car. Less than 30 minutes later, he had run down Gallagher and retaken the lead. Once back out front, Premat pulled away gradually. By the 50 minute mark (lap 35), Premat had 18 seconds over Gallagher.
Premat pitted from the lead and got out of the car in favor of driver/owner Mark Ramsey. Unfortunately, Ramsey is quite inexperienced and is nowhere near as fast as Premat. Ramsey still had the lead after the stops, but quickly lost the advantage to Marcelli. As time went on, the No. 92 Mercedes dropped down the order.
The race’s one and only full course yellow flew with 52 minutes to go, a perfect time to stop for fuel. Most of the leaders did. Marcelli screwed up the radio transmission as noted above and did not.
That miscommunication put Marcelli on a strategy where he had to make a tank of fuel last the final 67 minutes of the race, generally considered to be out of the fuel window. Marcelli was joined on the fuel conservation strategy by Andrew Wojteczko Autosport’s Brett Sandberg. The team estimated that Marcelli would be 2.5 laps short.
Once the race restarted, Marcelli slowly pushed his advantage to a couple of seconds over Sandberg. Once there, Marcelli used the transmission to slow the Mustang in order to save the necessary fuel. He was unable to make it back around on the cool-down lap, stalling in turn 8.
Marcelli and Stacy’s margin of victory was just more than two seconds over Sandberg and Martin Barkey. Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport’s Damien Faulkner and Russell Ward finished third in their Mercedes after getting past the VOLT Racing Ford shared by Alan Brynjolfsson and Trent Hindman on the last lap. Hindman was just ahead of the No. 8 Mustang of Gallagher and Chad McCumbee at the finish.
TCR was once again dominated by Compass Racing’s No. 77 Audi. Britt Casey Jr. and Tom Long led flag-to-flag to take their third win of the year and second in a row. Casey won the class pole Saturday morning and was not seriously threatened during his stint. After handing over to Long, the veteran continued to expand the lead.
Casey and Long won by 13.411 seconds over JDC-Miller MotorSports’ Michael Johnson and Stephen Simpson. Roy Block and Pierre Kleinubing were third. The No. 74 of Rodrigo Sales and Kuno Wittmer was every bit of a match to Casey and Long, but finished 18 laps down after their car was damaged during a pit stop. That led to 30 minutes behind the wall getting repairs.
In Street Tuner, MINI JCW Team’s No. 52 for Colin Mullan and Mark Pombo were well on their way to their second consecutive class victory when the car quit on Pombo with 10 minutes to go in turn 2. That gave the victory to BimmerWorld Racing’s Nick Galante and Devin Jones in their BMW 328i. It is their second win of 2018.
The Canadian Tire Motorsports Park 120 can be seen in highlighted form July 15th at 10:30 a.m. on FOX Sports 1.
The IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge will be back in action at Lime Rock Park on July 21 in the Lime Rock Park 120. The race is scheduled to go green at 11:10 a.m. and will be streamed live at IMSA.com and FansChoice.tv.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.