Pumpelly is ST Champion

BRASELTON, Ga. (Oct. 3, 2016) – With a commanding victory at Road Atlanta on Friday, Spencer Pumpelly, teammate Nick Galante and Rennsport One were named Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge ST Champions. It is the first championship for Pumpelly in his 15-year racing career.
Coming into the season finale second-place in the points, Rennsport One had a difficult mission to accomplish in order to secure the ST Championship. Even if the No. 17 Legistics/RS1/RickiFowler.com Porsche Cayman Pumpelly shares with Galante won the race, the championship-leading No. 25 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 only needed to finish fourth or better to take the title.
“We struggled a bit from the outset,” Pumpelly said. “The track had changed a lot from last year and the asphalt seemed to be wearing out at an accelerated rate. The grip was really low and we were having a hard time getting the car to handle well. The good news was it looked like everyone else was having the same problem, so we didn’t have to setup the perfect car, just one that was better than everyone else’s. I can’t thank those guys enough on how much they worked getting the setup right.”
Co-driver Galante qualified and started the car from 11th on the ST grid. Pumpelly praised his teammate’s ability to remain poised under the championship pressure and stay focused on the task at hand.
“We had a good pit stop,” Pumpelly said. “When I came out of the pits, it was under yellow and we were 12th. We felt like we had a car that could get to the front. The bad news was that the No. 25 car was leading.”
The No. 25 wasn’t the team’s only concern, the No. 56 Porsche Cayman, third in the ST Championship, was only two points behind. They would also need to finish ahead of it to secure the title. Pumpelly first had to battle with Eric Foss in the No. 56 for fourth-place before he got a chance to take on Steven McAleer for the race lead.
Even after taking the lead from McAleer, Pumpelly knew it was not enough to win the race if the No. 25 finished right behind him in second. Just as he began to think the race was his, but not the championship, the No. 25 began to slow and eventually pulled onto pitlane with mechanical problems. If Pumpelly could bring the RS1 Cayman home and win the race, the ST Championship was theirs.
“I remember thinking, when we were trying to get through 11 cars to get to the lead that there wasn’t enough time left in the race,” Pumpelly recalled. “Then, when the No. 25 dropped out it was the opposite: the last 25 minutes took forever!”
Pumpelly took the checkered flag with a strong 11.310-second lead over second-place.
“I didn’t realize it was going to be so big of a deal until it actually happened,” Pumpelly smiled. “To see how excited everyone was and the feeling of accomplishment and hard work they’d put in over the last two years and over my career, it really is a big deal. It keeps me excited about next year.”
Friday’s resounding success did not carry over to Pumpelly’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race on Saturday with Change Racing. Early on in the 10-hour Petit Le Mans race, the No. 16 Pertamina/Monster Energy Lamborghini Huracán GT3 experienced an issue with the alternator belt that forced the team to take the car back to the tent.
“The Change Racing guys did a great job and kept us in the race and kept us moving,” Pumpelly said. “Unfortunately for us, there really wasn’t any GTD attrition in the race. The car was really good and well behaved on track. I think we could have been competing for a win, but it wasn’t our day.”
The No. 16 Pumpelly shares with Corey Lewis and Richard Antinucci was ultimately classified in 11th at the finish.
Pumpelly’s championship-winning drive in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race will air on FS1 Sunday, Oct. 9, at 11am ET.
He will rejoin RealTime Acura this weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the Pirelli World Challenge season finale in the No. 34 Acura/HPD/Red Line Oil/RealTime Acura TLX-GT. That race will air live on world-challenge.com at 4:30pm ET


Change Racing photos by AWSM Pixels // RS1 photos by Sideline Sports Photography