WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – There is an old saying in racing – "Cautions breed cautions." This is because the cars get bunched up together and there is a much higher likelihood of incidents when they are running in close quarters.
The KONI Challenge race at Watkins Glen International, the legendary 3.4-mile natural road course in the Finger Lakes region of New York state, was certainly proof of this. Of the two-and-a-half hour contest, more than one-and-a-half hours was spent running around under the full-course yellow flag which was shown a total of six times.
This made passing even more of a priority when the green flag did fly, both on the track as well as in the pits. And, for the No. 59 ROUSH®/Valvoline Mustang, it played against their race strategy as it eliminated much needed time to move through the field.
Jack Roush, Jr. once again qualified the car and put the Mustang on the grid in ninth position. Though he initially slipped to 13th in the early laps, Roush slowly began his march towards the front and eventually worked up to the second position by lap 22.
Roush pitted on lap 24 under the third caution period and turned the No. 59 ROUSH®/Valvoline Mustang over to Dean Martin, his traditional co-driver. On exiting, Martin had slipped all the way back to 60th position as many of the other cars stayed out on track while the Rehagen Racing pit crew serviced the car.
"We had our pit strategy set up so that we could make one stop and go right to the end," Roush said. "But what happened was that we had a pit violation and the Grand-Am officials made us come back in and serve a 60 second penalty which put us way back in the field."
When the green finally flew again on lap 31, Martin drove like a man possessed. He made up 11 positions in one lap, then an additional five spots on the next. On laps 35 and 36 he sliced through the field again, passing nine more cars and by lap 37 was running in 16th place.
However, as you get closer to the front of the field the cars get faster and much harder to pass, and Martin had to really work for the additional track position. Methodically, he was able to keep marching forward and found himself in 11th by lap 47, with the clock ticking to the end of the race and his sights set on the team’s first Top-10 finish of the season.
Unfortunately, as Martin was working on James Gue, he allowed Scott Maxwell to slip by and dropped to 12th as the checkered flag flew over the 72 car field.
It was a more successful day for the other two Rehagen Racing Ford Mustangs though. The No. 60 Sunset Hills Vineyard Mustang, also carrying the ROUSH® 427RTM graphics, finished in fourth. This car is driven by Mike Canney and Hugh Plumb. One spot behind, in fifth, was the No. 52 Columbus Truck & Equipment Mustang (another Rehagen Racing team car with ROUSH® 427RTM graphics) with Ray Mason and Andy Lally behind the wheel. These were the highest finishing Mustangs in the race, a brand which took six of the top 14 positions further solidifying their road-racing prowess.
The next event on the KONI Challenge schedule is Saturday, July 19 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. The No. 59 Ford Mustang, based out of the Rehagen Racing shop in Livonia, Mich., carries sponsorship from ROUSH® Performance and Valvoline. In 2006, this was the highest-finishing Mustang in the series.
Based in Livonia, Mich., "The Art of Performance Engineering" takes place at ROUSH® Performance. To get a look behind the scenes at what goes on at ROUSH® and how the vehicles are designed, manufactured and produced logon to . In addition to the Stage 1TM, Stage 2TM and Stage 3TM Ford Mustang and F-150 styling, handling and performance upgrades, a complete line of performance parts and crate engines are offered. For more information see your local ROUSH® dealer, visit or telephone toll-free (800) 59-ROUSH.