SCC: Birmingham: Freedom Autosport race report
Freedom Autosport's Whitis and Long Win Again at Barber LEEDS, Ala.--Derek Whitis and Tom Long earned their second consecutive victory in the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Street Tuner class during Saturday's race at Barber ...
Freedom Autosport's Whitis and Long Win Again at Barber
LEEDS, Ala.--Derek Whitis and Tom Long earned their second consecutive victory in the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Street Tuner class during Saturday's race at Barber Motorsports Park.
Whitis and Long co-drove the No. 25 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5, running strong throughout the race and taking over the lead for the final time just two laps before a caution period that closed the race.
Whitis started the race, and he was intent on a repeat of the last race at Homestead, where he and Long took home top honors. "The win at Barber Motorsports Park in that little Mazda MX-5 powered by LifeLock was truly special," notes Whitis.
After a disappointing finish at the Alabama track in 2009, Long went into the weekend looking for redemption. He certainly found it, passing the No. 21 car in turn five to take the lead a final time late in the race.
Long held onto the top spot for those two final laps, which proved to be enough. A late-race caution flag flew, and the race ended under yellow.
"Our Freedom Autosport Mazda powered by LifeLock was a blast to drive this weekend," says Long. "Derek opened up the race and didn't put a wheel wrong the entire stint. He handed me a perfect MX-5 racecar. In the end, I was able to squeeze by the No. 21 car into the hairpin using our Performance Friction brakes. All the hectic caution periods made the restarts dicey, but our reliable Mazda got through it to pull off another victory!"
Rhett O'Doski and Andrew Carbonell co-drove the No. 26 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 to a finish of seventh in the ST class, despite starting at the back of the field. Work obligations prevented O'Doski from arriving at the track until Friday evening. Without a qualifying time, O'Doski had to start the No. 26 Mazda from the rear of the grid. During his stint, though, O'Doski made up valuable positions and the team's pit stop strategy played out perfectly.
When Carbonell got behind the wheel, there was still ground to make up. "It was pretty tough," says Carbonell. "Tom was three cars back and running near the front, so I was on the verge of going a lap down."
A well-timed caution allowed Carbonell to gain some ground, and he crossed the finish line in seventh.
Eric Foss and Randy Pobst finished 11th in the No. 27 Freedom Autosport MAZDASPEED3. It might have been his first time racing the new Mazda, but Foss got up to speed quickly, posting the second-quickest time in qualifying.
Foss held down third throughout the majority of his stint before pitting for more fuel. With the MAZDASPEED3 still in development, two pit stops were necessary due to fuel mileage. On the second stop, Pobst climbed behind the wheel and worked his way to 11th.
"Racing the MAZDASPEED3 was a fun challenge because I have one as a street car," explains Foss. "Having Randy as a teammate was great because we had similar feedback on the car and we worked well together. There are still some little things to take care of as the MAZDASPEED3 develops, but the reliability was amazing."
"I'm thrilled to be driving for Mazda again and I really enjoyed being a part of Freedom Autosport this weekend. I got to know (team owner) Derek Whitis better and I'm happy to be under his banner," says Pobst. "The MAZDASPEED3 is new, but it's come a long way already. Eric and I benefitted from that, and from the way all the teams running this car are working together. The handling improved a lot over the weekend and the car was really reliable."
Watch Freedom Autosport earn their second win of the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season during the race broadcast on SPEED on Saturday, April 17 at 3:00 p.m. EDT.
-source: freedom autosport
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