AUSTIN, Texas (March 4, 2013) – Spencer Pumpelly backed up a thrilling runner-up finish in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge with a class win in the Rolex Sports Car Series a few hours later to complete a successful weekend at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas.
Saturday’s racing action began with the Continental Tire race, where Pumpelly teamed with Dr. Jim Norman to drive the No. 38 BGB Motorsports Porsche Carrera. The race would be an uphill battle for Pumpelly and crew, as strict qualifying rules eliminated Norman’s two best qualifying laps, putting the team back to 16th on the starting grid.
A clever pit strategy from the team enabled Norman to work his way up to 11th before handing the car over to Pumpelly on lap 16. Pumpelly charged through the field, making up three more spots before a full-course caution gave the team an opportunity to make one last pit stop and go the distance. From there, Pumpelly sliced his way through traffic at the tight and twisty circuit, and only needed 10 laps to crack into the top three.
Following some intense battles with Billy Johnson in the No. 61 Ford Mustang Boss and Matt Bell in the No. 9 Chevrolet Camero, Pumpelly and the No. 96 BMW M3 driven by Bill Auberlen broke away from the rest of the field with 10 laps to go, making it a two-car race to the finish. As the laps ticked down, Pumpelly was able to get his Porsche around the BMW and into the lead, only to have Auberlen re-take the spot two corners later. The pair hit traffic on the final lap, allowing Auberlen to build some distance while killing Pumpelly’s opportunity for one last pass in what he felt was a race-winning car.
“Bill Auberlen passed me on a restart and then passed the leader, Billy Johnson,” Pumpelly said. “By the time I passed Billy Johnson, Auberlen was about three or four seconds ahead of me. So, in the closing the laps, I ran him down, and we had a big lead over rest of the field. I caught him and passed him with three laps to go, but he was able to get right back by.
“On the last lap, we caught ST traffic and he got through it all before the corner, but I got stuck in the middle of a pack of seven cars, so that pretty much ended it for us. We had a great car, a car that could have won, we just ran out of time.”
Only a few short hours later, Pumpelly teamed with Norman again, plus Texan Jeff Mosing, to drive the No. 38 Porsche Caymen in the Rolex Series GX class. Though the team started on pole and took home a win, the victory was anything but easy. Pumpelly watched on as his teammates worked furiously to hold off the Speedsource Mazdas through the first half of the race. Pumpelly was called up for duty on lap 44, right as the two Mazda teams experienced mechanical failures. With his main competition sidelined, Pumpelly held station at the front of the GX field before handing the car back to Norman, who crossed the finish line for the win.
“Overall, it was a great weekend,” Pumpelly concluded. “I’m bummed we ran out of time to get a GS race win, but I can’t be upset about the points we got with the runner-up finish. The GX win was a fun way to end the weekend.”
Pumpelly and Norman leave COTA second in the Continental Tire GS driver standings, trailing first place by only six points. BGB Motorsports is now second in the GS team points and first in the Rolex Series GX team standings.
The Continental Tire race from COTA will air on SPEED, Saturday, March 9 at 4 p.m. ET. Both the Continental Tire and Rolex races will be available to watch on demand at www.grand-am.com shortly.
Up next for Pumpelly is the legendary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida, the opening round of the 2013 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón. He will drive the No. 45 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup for Flying Lizard Motorsports. Pumpelly will return to COTA with Flying Lizard Motorsports and the ALMS, Sept. 19 – 21.