Pumpelly Survives Sebring

SEBRING, Fla. (March 21, 2016) – Spencer Pumpelly handled the heat and the rain at Sebring International Raceway, site of rounds two in both the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (CTSC) and the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (WTSC). Pumpelly came away from the weekend with a top-10 finish for Rennsport One and 11th for Change Racing.
 
Pumpelly and Rennsport One were ready to capitalize on a runner-up finish at Daytona with another strong performance at Sebring. Hopes were high after practice where the No. 17 Legistics/RS1/RickieFowler.com Porsche Cayman seemed to handle the Florida heat better than the other ST entrants.
 
Co-driver Nick Galante qualified the Cayman in seventh and was doing well at the start of the two-hour race when he reported trouble with the handling of the car. The crew determined that a slight bit of contact with another car had broken the Cayman’s sway bar drop link. This resulted in a large amount of oversteer.
 
Galante held on and brought the car in for its scheduled pit stop and driver change to Pumpelly. Not long after taking the reins, Pumpelly was going head-to-head with another Cayman when he suddenly lost the ABS.
 
“As a driver, when you assume you have ABS, you’re hitting the brake pedal pretty hard,” Pumpelly said. “In the Cayman, without ABS, all the brake bias goes to the rear. As I was trying to recycle the ignition and the master to get the ABS back, I got the car to shut off. It took me awhile to get the car going again; I was doing my best PC car impression out there. In the process, we lost a couple spots, but I nursed it home.”
 
Pumpelly crossed the line in 10th, taking home valuable championship points to bank with the team’s Daytona performance.
 
Similarly, in the WTSC, Pumpelly’s performance in practice gave Change Racing a lot of confidence heading into Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Though he qualified eighth in the No. 16 Pertamina/Monster Energy Lamborghini Huracán GT3 (highest qualifier of the Lamborghini entrants), Pumpelly had set a lap in practice even quicker than the eventual GTD pole time.
 
“Qualifying was in the heat of the day and I think our car had a little more drop off than some of the other cars,’ Pumpelly explained.
 
The Lamborghini may not have had the straight-line speed of its GTD competition, but it could pounce in the corners, which is how Pumpelly picked up spots before handing the car over to teammate Corey Lewis.
 
During Lewis’ stint, a storm moved into the area forcing officials to red flag the race for conditions, including lightning strikes. When racing resumed more than two hours later, Lewis showed what the Lamborghini could do on wet tires and moved into the GTD lead.
 
Mixed conditions followed. Short periods of rain came and went as darkness fell, giving race engineers fits about tire choice.
 
“I thought our decision making as a team was pretty good,” Pumpelly said. “We kept our eye on the weather and I felt like we were always on the right tire and we were always a step ahead of the competition.”
 
After teammate Al Carter had his turn in the car followed by another stint for Lewis, Pumpelly was poised to takeover the car while it was in the GTD lead when disaster struck. The No. 16 was called into pit lane to serve a penalty for taking a wave-by  (a full-course yellow procedure that involves driving past the pace car to the back of the field) that it did not qualify for. The penalty for the infraction required the car to sit on pit lane for an agonizing four minutes.
 
As a result, when Pumpelly got in the car, it was no longer on the lead lap. With roughly three hours to go, he was in a race of his own and finally took the checkered flag in 11th position. Though the team just missed a top-10 performance, Pumpelly thinks the result speaks to greater things to come for Change Racing.
 
“I would say there are a lot of positives to take away from the race,” he said. “We showed a lot of speed this weekend and that we can run with the front of the field and have a reliable car. We had zero mechanical issues in the race and not a single scratch on the car. Our pit stops were awesome and we put ourselves in position to win. We just had one penalty that took us out of contention. From where we came from at Daytona, considering this is only our second race, and at Sebring which is about as difficult as it gets, I think we all have good reason to look forward to Laguna.”
 
The CTSC and WTSC rounds at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca take place April 29 – May 1.
 
The Sebring round of the CTSC will air March 27 at 12:30pm ET on FS1. The WTSC race can be found on IMSA.com.
 

RS1 photos by Sideline Sports Photography LLC // Change Racing photos by Austin Gager