HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Despite the perfect chamber of commerce weather, the No. 61 ROUSH®/Valvoline Mustang team of Jack Roush Jr. and Hugh Plumb had a less than perfect day during the Grand-Am Fan Appreciation Weekend KONI Sports Car Challenge race yesterday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Roush qualified the No. 61 ROUSH®/Valvoline Mustang eighth on the grid, a solid starting position considering the KONI Challenge series had not raced at this 2.3-mile stadium road course since 2007 so the drivers were all feeling their way around a bit. At the green flag he quickly moved up, and was in the third position by lap 7.
When the first caution flag flew at lap 33 Roush dove into the pits where the crew swarmed over the car replacing the Hoosier tires, filling the fuel tank, and Hugh Plumb climbed behind the wheel for his stint.
The team debuted a brand-new FR500C Mustang this weekend, and during the race Roush explained that while he was pleased with the way the car handled on the racetrack, the team was still trying to sort out some of the kinks.
"The car feels great. It's interesting how each car has its own idiosyncrasies, and we're still trying to figure out this new car from scratch. We haven't tested it, and the team has done an awesome job dialing this new car in," he said from pit road.
Plumb also ran as high as third position during the two-and-a-half hour event, but then a new car gremlin struck as the fluid mysteriously drained from the brake line.
The team was able to refill the brake fluid and get the No. 61 ROUSH®/Valvoline Mustang back onto the track, but by then they were too many laps down to contend for the victory. At the checkered flag, Plumb crossed in 16th position, five laps behind the race winner.
"We were quite fast at the beginning and able to move through the field quite well. Both Hugh and I were able to drive towards the front, but then we had that brake issue. Even after the fluid was refilled Hugh had a really hard time braking the ROUSH®/Valvoline Mustang. Most of the time he was in more of a controlled four-wheel slide through the turns," Roush said.
"If that hadn’t happened, I think we could have had a very strong finish. We were looking really good to having another podium finish."
The No. 61 Ford Mustang, based out of the Horsepower Ranch shop in Mooresville, N.C., carries sponsorship from ROUSH® Performance, Valvoline and MossMuscle.com. The next event on the KONI Sports Car Challenge schedule is the May 1-3 contest at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Milville, N.J.