LEXINGTON, Ohio. – There is an old saying "When it rains, it pours." On Saturday, June 20 during the Emco Gears Classic KONI Sports Car Challenge Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, it rained in the morning, and then poured on mechanical problems for the No. 61 ROUSH®/Valvoline Mustang.
Jack Roush Jr. qualified the car ninth on the grid of 21 cars. At the start of the Grand Sport division race he moved up through the field quickly and settled into fifth position. The field, however, got strung out around the 2.258-mile road course and Roush found himself several seconds behind the fourth place car, and several seconds ahead of those following him.
With no real way to improve his position he settled in and clicked off the laps until pitting on lap 43. Coming into his pit stall he needed to make a quick evasive maneuver to avoid hitting the jackman for the No. 87 BMW who had stumbled on his way around the nose of his team’s car and rolled slightly into the pit lane. This move slowed Roush’s entry into the Horsepower Ranch team pits, but fortunately he avoided what could have been a very nasty incident.
At the time Roush pitted, he had posted a lap of 1:34.065 which placed him as the fastest Mustang on the racetrack. Even more impressive was that this time was recorded on lap 37, near the end of his stint and on worn tires.
Billy Johnson, in his second race with the team, slid into the driver’s seat and came out in seventh during the green flag pit sequence. However, he was forced back in just two laps later with a mechanical issue on the right front of the No. 61 ROUSH®/Valvoline Mustang.
The crew swarmed over the car under the watchful eye of the SPEED television camera crew only to discover a cracked tie rod. The repairs took the team several laps down and out of contention for the race win. Unfortunately, the team had to make a second unplanned stop near the end of the race at lap 82 with an electrical problem. That repair put the team additional laps down to the leader.
When the checkered flag flew, the No. 61 ROUSH®/Valvoline Mustang was scored in 16th position, ten laps down to the race winner.
"I was struggling a bit to re-learn the track this weekend, but by the race it came together (the KONI Challenge has not raced at Mid-Ohio since 2007)," said Roush. "During my time the car ran really well and we had improved our position pretty quickly. But without any yellow flags the field got really strung out and I got to where I couldn’t move gain anything more.
"Then after Billy got in the mechanical issues cropped up. It’s really unfortunate as I think we could have ended up with a really solid finish in the ROUSH®/Valvoline Mustang today. We’ll figure it out and be ready for a strong showing at Barber (Motorsports Park) which is a track I’ve done well at before."
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 July 17-19 competition at Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Ala.
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