SEBRING, Fla. (March 22, 2017) – Fresh off a podium finish in the opening round of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, Spencer Pumpelly and co-driver Nick Galante scored their first win of the season at Sebring International Raceway.
Driving the No. 17 RS1 Porsche 911 Cayman, Galante qualified a career-high sixth and backed it up with a solid opening stint that kept the team in the mix with the leaders.
“He qualified his career-best seventh at Daytona and then upped it by one to qualify sixth this time,” Pumpelly smiled. “He’s doing a really good job this season, not only qualifying well, but running the opening stint in a smart, competitive way that puts us in a position to get these wins.”
Excellent pit work by the RS1 crew ensured that Pumpelly lost no ground to the lead pack. As the clock ticked closer to the finish, it was clear the battle for the win would be between Pumpelly, his RS1 teammate Connor Bloum, Owen Trinkler in the No. 44 Nissan Altima and Eric Foss in the No. 56 Porsche Cayman.
Just when Pumpelly though he’d broken away from the field and was ready to take-on Foss for the lead, a full-course caution was issued. The race re-started with less than 15 minutes left and in addition to losing a spot to Trinkler, Pumpelly was now battling a soft brake pedal.
“Sebring is very tough on brakes and when you’re running behind other cars for an extended period of time, you don’t have any cooling,” Pumpelly explained. “With about five laps to go, the brake pedal started to go to the floor. I could get the car to stop, but it took a lot of pedal travel and it wasn’t giving me the confidence that it would finish the race.”
Ahead of him, with two laps remaining, Trinkler and Foss made contact. This enabled Pumpelly to slide underneath the two and take the lead. From there, it was only a matter of holding off Trinkler for the win. Thankfully, now that his Cayman was in clear air, the brakes cooled and returned to normal. He crossed the finish line 0.588-second ahead of Trinkler’s Nissan and proceeded to perform victory donuts in Turns One and Seven for the Sebring fans.
“It’s still early in the ST Championship, but it’s good to get that first win of the season,” Pumpelly said. “The best thing is to see so far is these two excellent drives out of Nick, which will continue to be critical for us to defend our title.”
The Saturday following his ST victory, Pumpelly took part in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the second round of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. After aiding Alegra Motorsports with race strategy at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, which resulted in a GT Daytona victory for the team, Pumpelly was asked to return for driving duties at Sebring. He joined Daniel Morad, Michael Christensen and Michael de Quesada in the team’s No. 28 Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Morad qualified the car 12th on the super competitive and 21-car strong GTD grid. The team showed strong pace in the practice sessions, but shortly after the green flag dropped it was clear that the Porsches’ performance wasn’t on-par with the Mercedes, Ferraris, Audis or Lamborghinis.
“We did the best we could, but with a lot of long, green runs, we didn’t get the breaks we needed to get lucky at the end,” Pumpelly summarized. “We ended up cruising to a 10th-place finish, which was well off what we wanted, but it was worth it to work with this group of people. I hope I get the opportunity to work with Alegra again, because it’s a really strong team and we have good synergy.”
If you missed Pumpelly’s victory in the Sebring 120, you can watch the replay on FS1, Sunday, March 26 at 10:30am ET.