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Aug 25, 2014 - 06:54 AM
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WeatherTech Racing Finishes Fifth In Oak Tree Grand Prix At VIR
Posted by: newsla on Aug 25, 2014 - 06:51 AM
USCR News
WeatherTech Racing Finishes Fifth In Oak Tree Grand Prix At VIR


WeatherTech Racing co-drivers Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.) and Leh Keen (Charleston, S.C.) are now locked in a three-way tie for the GTD Drivers' Championship point lead following their fifth place finish in today's TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GTD class race at Virginia International Raceway (VIR).

 

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MacNeil started from the outside pole in the No. 22 WeatherTech Porsche. Early on, MacNeil had to deal with tire pressure issues that made the car loose and tough to handle. Unfortunately, this caused him to slowly drop from second to fifth. The team had a fast car all weekend and it desperately needed to make a pit stop to correct the tire pressure issue because they could not afford to lose anymore positions.

With the team poised and ready to make its much-needed pit stop, the race's first full course caution came out. The timing couldn't have been worse because caution forced the pits to be closed. On lap 36, MacNeil finally made it to pit lane for four tires, fuel and a driver change.

"I had a problem early on with tire pressures," MacNeil said. "They were way too high when we started at the green flag. We're still not sure why they were so high. But, it caused the car to be really loose. There was a lot of oversteer entering mid corner and exit of every corner high speed and low speed. So, I was fighting that. I dropped back a few positions. But, I was doing the best I could to keep the car pointed straight."

Now piloting the No. 22 Porsche, Keen was 10th on lap 45. That's when he started to make his move towards the front. It only took Keen 19 laps to drive his way up fourth place. At that point, he was right on the back bumper of the No. 27 Porsche for third. He battled the No. 27 machine for 14 laps before the final caution of the race.

On the restart, Keen knew he would have to get a great jump to get around the No. 27 to claim the final podium spot. But unfortunately, he dropped a spot with only six minutes remaining in the two hour and 45 minute race. Keen finished fifth and he and his co-driver MacNeil are now in a three-way tie for the GTD Drivers' Championship.

"What I think we learned in the race today is we have a really strong car in clean air," Keen said. "Unfortunately, racing up under someone's bumper in the pack, we just had so much push. We were losing so much air on the front of the car from the car in front of us that we basically couldn't do anything. I was really good in the low speed stuff and could get right up on them. But, the fast corner leading up to the front straight, we had no chance there. It happened in a couple of other places too. I was always having to lift and wait for the front end. It's super frustrating because we did have a good car. I was hoping to do better than fifth today. I think we could have. There was no chance we could beat the BMW - nobody can. I really felt like we could have been on the podium today. We had another top five and I think we had another decent points day. But again, the BMW is so strong because of the balance of performance the series lets them have that we really have no chance to race against them. We've got two races left and we have to get something [a rules adjustment] for the front of the car so we can make front downforce like the other cars do."

"We struggled with some really high tires pressures early in the race," Team Owner Alex Job said. "For the life of us, we can't figure out why. Potentially, we have a faulty gauge. Even when Leh got in and started his stint, the car just wasn't all there. Leh and Cooper did a good job considering the car wasn't as good as it had been in practice or qualifying. But, we salvaged a top five when we fell back as far as 10th. Certainly it wasn't a horrible day, but we'd hoped for a little bit better."

The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship next heads to Texas Sept. 19-20 for the Lone Star Le Mans at the Circuit of the Americas.


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