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Jul 28, 2014 - 07:00 AM
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Pumpelly 8th at Indy
Posted by: newsla on Jul 28, 2014 - 06:58 AM
Pumpelly 8th at Indy

Spencer Pumpelly and Flying Lizard Motorsports have endured some trying times in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship this season. Indianapolis Motor Speedway continued that theme as contact robbed the GTD squad of a more deserving finish.


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The Brickyard Grand Prix was a unique two-day event held on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn infield road course at famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the NASCAR race week. Teams only had two practice sessions on Thursday, before qualifying that afternoon during which Pumpelly qualified the No. 45 Audi R8 LMS fourth.

The sister No. 35 car suffered a set back when it crashed in the first practice session. The team was able to repair the car in time to salvage some practice laps and a qualifying effort, but driver Seth Neiman was injured in the incident. Pumpelly was asked to fill in, putting him on double duty for the race.

Friday brought a brief 15-minute warm-up in the afternoon before the two hour and 45 minute race went green at 5:45 pm. Unfortunately for Pumpelly and team, the race got off to a bad start, even before the official start, when the No. 35 was hit on the pace lap.

“I started the No. 35,” Pumpelly said. “But before the green flag, while finishing the first of the two pace laps, I got hit from behind and spun around. By the time we went green, I was on the back straight trying to get caught back up with the field.

“I was able to run down a couple cars, but then a couple laps into the race I got hit by [Gustavo] Yacaman in pretty spectacular fashion. That caused a tire to go down and brought me into pit lane, where they put Dion [von Moltke] in the car.”

The hits kept coming for both cars, including the No. 45, which was started by teammate Nelson Canache Jr.

“Nelson was doing an incredible job in the No. 45,” Pumpelly smiled. “He had just passed for the GTD lead and then a lap later the No. 94 BMW hit him from behind.”

Thankfully the car was relatively unharmed in the incident that resulted in a penalty for the No. 94. Shortly after the hit, a lengthy full-course caution was issued for track repairs giving Pumpelly the opportunity to swap spots with Canache Jr. in the No. 45.

Pumpelly spent the remainder of the race battling traffic while attempting to claw his way to the front of the GTD field. Though the No. 45 was setting lap times similar to that of the class leaders, passing the competition is always more difficult than catching it.

“Balance Of Performance (BOP) is a little bit of a challenge right now for us,” Pumpelly explained. “The lap times are good but it makes passing a little tough, plus, between Nelson, Dion and myself we got hit five times between the two cars during this race. But the series is willing to work on it and we hope to see some positive change for the next race.”

Crossing the finish line in eighth at Indianapolis, Pumpelly can only look ahead to the next event at Road America and hope the team’s fortunes are better.

“I think Road America will suit us better than Indy, but it’ll still be a tough track for the Audi,” Pumpelly said. “We’re sort of sitting ducks on the straightaway right now and trying to pass cars—even if they’re slow—is very difficult right now.

“We do everything right, we have a great car, great team, everyone is working their butts off and we have a great synergy, but it seems like we just can’t get a break and get the car where it deserves to be.”

Pumpelly’s next chance for a breakthrough is at the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., Aug. 8 – 10. The race will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1 at 6:30 pm ET.

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