DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – One year ago, Matt Plumb was cruising with a comfortable lead in the BMW Performance 200, only to suffer a heartbreaking mechanical problem with four laps remaining.
Plumb found himself in the same position on Friday, but this time there was no letdown as Rum Bum Racing won its third Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
Plumb joined his brother Hugh in the No. 13 Rum Bum Porsche 911 to win this year. He teamed with Gian Luis Bacardi in winning the 2010 season opener in a BMW M3 in the team’s first event, and returned to win in a BMW with Nick Longhi in 2011. Plumb tied Sylvain Tremblay for the all-time lead in series victories with 20.
Yet, with the laps winding down, Matt Plumb experienced a case of déjà vu.
“Last year we had a sensor on the motor go bad, and believe it or not, I thought I felt the same bobble today with 10 laps to go,” Plumb said. “I started to freak out. It’s amazing how things start to feel when you’re going to win.”
This year, it was the competition that experienced problems in the closing laps. With only three caution periods – and the final 43 minutes run under green – several front runners in both classes began to slow and run out of fuel.
Robin Liddell finished second in the No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R started by Andrew Davis, 6.972 seconds behind. Lawson Aschenbach took third in Stevenson’s No. 9 Camaro co-driven by Matt Bell. Defending Grand Sport (GS) champion Trent Hindman placed fourth in the No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 started by new co-driver and 2014 BMW Performance 200 winner Ashley Freiberg.
Scott Maxwell started from the pole in the No. 15 Multimatic Ford Mustang Boss 302R, which he turned over to Billy Johnson. When the third caution waved, Johnson was experiencing radio problems and did not pit with the other leaders. Instead, he waited to pit until the final lap before the restart and was mired in the pack for the restart. Johnson took the checkered flag in fifth place.
“That helped us out, because the guys who stopped at the first lap of caution had to save fuel at the end,” said team owner Larry Holt. “Billy just took off and picked them off one by one. He was fifth by the checkered flag. One more lap and he would have been second – but there was no catching Rum Bum today.”
The biggest disappointment went to Mike McGovern, who led the race three times for 14 laps in the No. 2 Jim Click Racing Ford Mustang Boss 302R before running low on fuel.
“Racing with Mr. Plumb was awesome, we had a great battle,” McGovern said. “But 20 minutes before the end she sputtered and I had to pit. We were done at that point. But today just shows what you can do when you get the right race car and the right team, you can make it happen. It’s amazing but disappointing. I’m happy we could show people today we could make it happen. Typically, we have more cautions, but not enough today.”
Rennsport One made a strong statement in its Continental Tire Challenge debut. Luis Rodriguez Jr. – also running in the series for the first time – joined veteran Spencer Pumpelly in taking the Street Tuner (ST) victory in the No. 17 RS1 Porsche Cayman. The team was running 1-2 in the closing laps, with Adam Isman passing Pumpelly for the lead with two laps remaining. However, Isman ran out of fuel in the run to the checkered flag in the No. 18 RS1 Cayman started by Jon Miller.
“What was shaping up to be an incredible finish unfortunately turned out to be a fuel mileage race,” Pumpelly said. “We’ll take the win. This is a great new team. Luis Jr. did a phenomenal job today – this was a pretty high pressure race for him. He’s got a great future ahead of him.”
Defending ST champ and Daytona winner Eric Foss finished second in the No. 56 Murillo Racing/Mosing Motorcars Porsche Cayman started from the pole by Justin Piscitell. David Murry and Ted Giovanis took third in the No 64 Team TGM BMW 328i.
The next stop for the Continental Tire Challenge will be at Sebring International Raceway on Friday, March 20.