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Aug 24, 2014 - 07:41 AM
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Podium Pushes Stevenson Motorsports Into IMSA Championship Lead at VIR
Posted by: newsla on Aug 24, 2014 - 07:39 AM
Sports Cars
Podium Pushes Stevenson Motorsports Into IMSA Championship Lead at VIR


Stevenson Motorsports delivered a big performance on Saturday at Virginia International Raceway when Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell stormed through the field to not only score a runner-up finish, but also capture the championship lead for the team. Despite having scored 26 wins (17 Rolex Series & 9 Continental Tire) throughout the team’s 12 year history, it marks the first time that the accomplished North Carolina-based squad has led the championship.

 

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Davis and Liddell’s No. 6 Camaro Z/28.R was forced to start from the rear of the field when IMSA deemed a non-compliant engine air restrictor but the team was undeterred and immediately set out for a charge through the field.

“These Stevenson Motorsports guys do such an awesome job coming from adversity,” said Team Owner John Stevenson. “It doesn’t matter where you start – it’s where you finish. Mike Johnson does a great job – he had great calls on the pit box today. Andrew (Davis) and Robin (Liddell) both did a great job. The guys had awesome pit stops. That’s what we were shooting for with getting the points lead. We’re looking forward to the next two races and see if we can pull this championship off!”

Davis opened the race from 21st position and moved up an impressive five spots on the very first lap. He had worked his way into ninth when the Stevenson Motorsports group took advantage of the race’s first and only caution 28 minutes in. The No. 6 Camaro Z/28.R took on tires and fuel and returned to the track 11th in line.

Once again Davis, who was tabbed to run a double-stint, maneuvered his way all the way up to lead the field with just one hour completed in the race. As positions swapped, Davis ran among the top-three throughout the remainder of his time behind the wheel and pitted from the third position with 52 minutes remaining.

Liddell took over to anchor the car to the finish and returned to the fray fourth. He steadily moved his way forward to take over second place. With 20 minutes remaining, a thrilling battle for the lead ensued as the No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports machine chased down the leading No. 07 car driven by Kris Wilson. Going side by side seemingly every lap, Liddell’s veteran experience in the Camaro was on full display as he looked to take over the race lead and fought against lack of grip in the waning laps.

Just when it looked like Liddell might have the opportunity to make a pass, he was held up by two ST class machines. Despite catching back up to Wilson on the final lap, the No. 6 was unable to get cleanly by without jeopardizing the race effort, and the team took second place and the points lead at the checkered flag.

“It’s amazing, I’ve been with this team since 2007 and our program really took off in 2008,” said Team Manager Mike Johnson. “I don’t know if anybody has had as many wins like that compared to us over that time, yet this is the first time we’ve had the points lead. So it’s a pretty great day for us. We have two races to go and we have a handle on the No. 6 car. We had a small problem in tech – but that wasn’t Stevenson Motorsports, it was a problem that happened at a shop far, far away. We’re just clicking them off right after another now. Confidence is high going into these last two races. The No. 46 is still very strong and they’re going to give everything they have as well.”

Meanwhile, the brother No. 9 Camaro Z/28.R of Andy Lally and Matt Bell showed great promise in the early stages of the race until a minor mechanical issue saw the team fall several laps down.

Lally opened the race from fourth on the grid and wasted no time in moving forward. He took over the point by the second lap and remained there throughout the rest of his 45-minute stint. He pitted under green flag conditions and handed the car over to Bell who returned to the track 14th in line.

Unfortunately, smoke appeared from the rear of the car shortly into his stint and though not a big issue, IMSA called for the car to be repaired. Bell was forced to bring the No. 9 Camaro back to the garage where the Stevenson crew quickly went to work to repair a small shifter leak.

Bell returned to the track, but with laps lost, the team settled for a disappointing 16th place result.

“We really have the No. 6 car figured out, but no matter where we put the No. 9, we just keep running into problems,” added Johnson. “None of it’s major but it’s not working out the way we want. Today it was just a slow leak from the shifter and all the guys had to do was tighten it but it wasn’t dripping and it would have survived. But the series is trying to get green flag races, and they want to make sure nothing blows up.”

Stevenson Motorsports now leads the championship by two points heading into the final two rounds of the year.

Stevenson Motorsports carries the championship lead to the penultimate IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge round at Circuit of the Americas on September 19-20.

DRIVER COMMENTS:
Andrew Davis, No. 6 Camaro Z/28.R: “I had to be smart. I was opportunistic at first and picked one car off at a time. It steadied out for a while but I was able to keep pace. We decided to stay out on the early yellow and that brought me in a position where we were able to move up and ran first for quite a while. It was tough out there. It was hot. I wasn’t expecting to do a double-stint and I used myself up because I didn’t use a cool suit and ran out of water. That wasn’t the plan - the plan was for Robin (Liddell) to have the cool suit and have a long run. But I’m glad I was able to remain in the top-three and bring the car in to Robin. He did a phenomenal job as always. Man, what a great day for points! I’m so glad and proud of the Stevenson Motorsports team.”

Robin Liddell, No. 6 Camaro Z/28.R: “We were going for the win. We just didn’t have enough rear grip coming off the slow stuff. Kris (Wilson) was fighting very hard at the end also with a lack of grip but he just had the edge on us out on the back straight. There were a couple of laps where I thought I could get a run but a couple of ST cars were fighting and blocked half the track so I had to just tuck in behind them. We were alongside into turns 13 and 14 a couple of laps prior but he drove a great race with no mistakes. We didn’t have quite enough to get ahead. But we’re very happy to get second and getting the points lead is a big bonus.”

Andy Lally, No. 9 Camaro Z/28.R: “We had an incredible Camaro Z/28.R. We went from fourth to the lead in the first three laps and were able to open it up. I had a good, fun run. With these races, as uncomfortable as they are in the car in the heat, they are that much fun to drive when the tires are going off and everyone is slipping and sliding all over the place. It really brings a lot of driving and strategy into play. Ben Johnson (engineer) did an awesome job working with Matt (Bell) and I to get us a car that was going to be good over a stint. We had that. By lap three, you’re managing tires and we were able to keep it under us.”

Matt Bell, No. 9 Camaro Z/28.R: “It’s a shame that we don’t have the result that the team deserved today. It definitely doesn’t reflect the hard work Stevenson Motorsports put in this weekend but that’s how racing goes sometimes. It’s tough to swallow because the car was very, very good and Andy (Lally) just did a great job of getting up to the front there at the beginning. But we did what we could today, and we’ll just move on and turn the page forward to Circuit of the Americas.”


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