Series VIR race report

VON KLUGE COMPLETES FORD RACING MUSTANG CHALLENGE HAT TRICK AT VIR DANVILLE, Virginia, 25 April - Jason von Kluge captured his third win in three starts of the 2010 Ford Racing Mustang Challenge season at Virginia International Raceway. Driving ...

Series VIR race report


DANVILLE, Virginia, 25 April - Jason von Kluge captured his third win in three starts of the 2010 Ford Racing Mustang Challenge season at Virginia International Raceway. Driving the No.19 JVK Motorsports Mustang, von Kluge led the final three laps of the 45-minute race, taking over when Tony Buffomante was stricken by an issue with his clutch. Von Kluge finished ahead of the No. 88 RP Motorsports entry of Pratt Cole and Ben Crosland's No. 25 BBC Racing Mustang.

Unlike the first two rounds at Homestead Miami Speedway, where von Kluge, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, dominated every session, not once did von Kluge break into the top three this weekend during the opening practice and qualifying sessions. At least not until when it mattered most. But, come race time, he pushed hard to get the GREEN Filters-livered Ford Mustang FR500S into the race-winning position.

"I don't think I was being patient, I was just trying to do what I could to get past Cole. We had a great race there-he wouldn't let me by. Then I got a good run out of the Oak Tree, drafted him down the back and got it done going deep into (turn) 10," said von Kluge at the victory barn. "Tony (Buffomante) is a great driver and he always hits his marks, so I am not sure what happened to him but it was good to come out on top today."

Polesitter Buffomante led the field into turn 1 in his blue No 34 Capaldi Racing Mustang, while behind, the rest of the field threaded their way through the first three corners without incident as several battles stayed side-by-side through the complex of corners. At the end of lap 1, Buffomante, from Napierville, Illinois, was in charge with Cole and von Kluge getting around outside front row winner Crosland. Further down the order Dan Aweida, Steve Phillips and Series newcomer David Rosenblum, all improved from their starting positions.

In the lead, Buffomante was able to establish a firm gap of between 1 and 2 seconds. Behind, von Kluge exerted some pressure on Cole through turn 2, but the hard-driving Cole defended his honor fair and square. By lap 5, Cole gained enough of a margin over von Kluge to try chasing down Buffomante.

The only caution period of the race occurred on lap 7. George Winkler, who had been consistently fast throughout the weekend, lost control of his red No.12 just before the Oak Tree turn and made contact with the tire wall. He escaped without injury. The race result was a disappointing development for Winkler, who scored a debut Mustang Challenge podium at Homestead and had been running strong all weekend.

"I just pushed too hard and got two off at ten, and then I did something I KNEW I shouldn't have and kept too much throttle in. So I feel fine, but this was certainly not what I was hoping for this weekend."

Racing resumed on lap 10, and Cole took attempted to take full advantage on the restart having a good, long look around Buffomante through turn 1, but being on the outside through the 180 degree right hander, was unable to make the pass. For the next three tours of the VIR full course, the order through the field went unchanged with Buffomante leading Cole, Von Kluge, Crosland and Aweida for the top 5.

With Buffomante extending his lead to 2.2 seconds on lap-13, von Kluge was able to get around Cole on the long back straight.

"Jason had been waiting to set me up. He seemed to have the legs on me, but he still had to get it up just right to capitalize on it," said Cole who hails from Salt Lake City, Utah. "I had nothing for Tony today--I was peddling, but he had us covered so I feel bad for him today."

However, in the space of a lap and half, Buffomante's lead evaporated. He was ahead of von Kluge across the line to begin lap 15 with less than a second and advantage, and at the exit of turn 1, Buffomante drew to the right, allowing not only von Kluge into the lead, but also Cole and Crosland into podium position.

"I just lost pressure on the clutch and couldn't get it into gear. The pedal went dead. I was just trying to pump it up over and over and then after going around in fourth gear, it came back a little bit for me to get to the finish," said a disappointed Buffomante. "It's a shame because we were the car to beat today. I was just cruising. They were telling me the intervals, and when I needed to light one off, I'd light one off. Otherwise, I was just backpedaling to keep the gap. I didn't like to see the yellow, but the car was so good on cold tires, so it wasn't hard to get a good lead again. I just hated it for the guys, they are itching for the win. I thought we had it at Homestead, and thought we had it again here, but hopefully we can do it at Lime Rock"

The white flag came as the leaders completed lap 17. Crosland was doing everything he could to get past Cole for second place as the youngster looked to usurp the wily veteran. Buffomante came through on his own, driving around his clutch problem as well as he could to maintain his gap over the trio of Aweida, Kyle Gimple in his first series start and Phillips.

"I'm still learning the race craft side of things," said 17 year-old Crosland. "I can be fast by myself, but I still need to learn more about how to be fast during the race. (This was) probably the most fun race that I've ever been in. It was really competitive and it was a very good day for the team and I've got really good feelings coming out of this weekend."

At the checkers, von Kluge streaked through to take his third win in succession. Cole held off Crosland, while Buffomante held onto fourth place. Aweida retained fifth while behind the battle between Gimple and Phillips saw Phillips go off the track briefly which allowed Brad Adams to come through to sixth followed by Gimple and Phillips. Richard Golinello finished in ninth, while Richard Korzen rounded out the top-10 in his Series debut.

Rosenblum had a number of spirited battled to finish 11th, having at one point run as high as eighth. He was followed by John Scarlett as Pete Crosby came home 13th at the finish.

VIR Special Awards:

BF Goodrich Tires "Take Control" Award
Brad Adams "Jim Daniels and Pratt Cole have really been helping me out," said the New Orleans native. "I just kept my nose down and kept driving the lines. I started out, and a few guys got past me. Then I just put my head down and started making laps, making laps, and was able to move up. Who Dat!"

GREEN Filters Fast First Award
Steve Phillips added an extra special memory from the race weekend as he netted the first-ever GREEN Filters Fast First Award, which saw the South Carolina native move up the most positions on the first lap on his way to finishing 11th on the day. Stay tuned--there will be more information about this new sponsorship this week!

Sunday Group Management "Rookie of the Race"
Kyle Gimple will see a $150 donation made in his name to the Austin Hatcher Foundation after the series debutante scored seventh on his series debut after working back from a practice crash earlier in the weekend.

"The race went better than I thought-after the wreck I had in practice I wasn't sure what to expect. I dropped back a few positions on the start, had some issues but got them corrected and then just went on to finish the race. I was happy about how much competition there was today, it gives me something to keep working for."

Ford Racing Mustang Challenge will return to action with round four at Lime Rock Park as the series makes a return visit to the Northwest Connecticut facility. Thanks to the corner workers and staff of VIR for a great weekend, and hurry back, Lynda!


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