Watkins Glen: The Racer's Group race report

TRG Finishes Fourth at Six Hours of Watkins Glen Watkins Glen, NY -- June 20, 2004 -- In a race that saw numerous full-course cautions and several spectacular crashes, the ...

Watkins Glen: The Racer's Group race report
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TRG Finishes Fourth at Six Hours of Watkins Glen

Watkins Glen, NY -- June 20, 2004 -- In a race that saw numerous full-course cautions and several spectacular crashes, the #66 F1 Air/Gleason Agency Porsche 911 GT3 RS of RJ Valentine, Chris Gleason and Ian James finished fourth in the GT class. The team's finish shows the skill of three drivers who managed not only to avoid frequent and heavy accidents on the track, but also navigate their way competitively through the carnage.

Ian James, who lost two laps while running in 2nd place early in the race due to a suddenly cut rear tire, remarked about the team's run today. "We had a good race, and we were lucky to stay out of the way of all the crashes -- it was like tiptoeing through a minefield at times out there. In my first stint, I was running really well and keeping the [eventual second-place finishing] Ferrari at bay, but my tire blew up in 6th gear at about 150 mph. We got pretty close to taking another podium, but we didn't have enough fuel left in the car to catch up with the third-placed Porsche."

RJ Valentine, who took over from Chris Gleason in the fourth hour of the race while in 4th position, commented on his growing affection for Porsches. "After racing Trans-Am cars for so long," he said, "I'm coming to really love these TRG Porsches. The more I drive them, the more I find to like. The team tuned the car to perfection today, and we're slowly closing on the BMWs. They're still in another league, but now that we're a third of the way through the season still very much in the hunt for the championship, we'll stay hard at it."

The #67 TRG Porsche of Liz Halliday, Bohdan Kroczek and team owner Kevin Buckler had an eventful day, interrupted by two accidents, both of which required repairs in the team's garage. Nevertheless, the car finished in the top ten for the fifth consecutive race. Buckler was solidly booted off the track by an errant SGS Porsche, ended up with a broken rear suspension and was towed out of a gravel trap and into the team's garage. The team worked for nearly 40 minutes to repair the car's suspension, and returned the #67 car back to the track to finish the race.

Halliday said, "I had a good start to the race, but the same car that ended up dive-bombing Kevin nearly pushed me off the track three times in the first 10 green-flag laps. Considering the amount of time we spent in the garage after Kevin and I both got hit, I'm very happy with a top ten finish."

TRG campaigned an SGS-class Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car for the first time today, driven by David Master, Paul Schroeder and Jason Choulochas, but the race ended early for the #65 car when it was pushed off the track and into a retaining wall almost head-on.

Team owner Kevin Buckler expressed his thoughts on the day. "I feel badly for my friends in the #65 car -- they had a great run at the beginning of the race, had gained eight track positions and were soldiering on, but Jason getting pushed offline caused a pretty scary accident. Thankfully, he's perfectly fine, but the car's heavily damaged. The #66 guys had another great race as they battled for another podium - they just missed but I like their chances at Daytona. I was disappointed in our [car #67's] run -- just as I left the pits someone in the car that had been hassling Liz divebombed me in the chicane and absolutely nailed me. It was a completely foolish move on the driver's part, and it took us both out of contention. Liz and Bohdan did a great job again, and the team did a fantastic job putting the back together not once but twice during the race. All in all, a trying weekend, but we'll regroup and hit 'em hard in Daytona."

The Racer's Group next races on June 27, 2004 in the American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, and then again July 1st in the Grand-American Paul Revere 250 at Daytona.


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