Oh No! - What a Finish at The Brickyard!
PETALUMA, CA (July 29) - Friday's inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix had enough drama for anyone. First there was the weather. It stormed. Then it didn't. Then it stormed again. Then it didn't. Wets? Slicks? Who has best perfected the art of racing in the rain?
TRG's two-car Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car effort of Ben Keating and Jörg Bergmeister (No. 66) and Eliseo Salazar and Eduardo Costabal (No. 64) made it an exciting day as both cars slip-slided away at times early on the slippery road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In the end, however, the AGUNSA/ CCNI/ La Tercera No. 64 duo of Salazar and Costabal continued to earn accolades from team owner Kevin Buckler for their grit, determination and steady performance, while the No. 66 car with Keating driving the treacherous opening stint and Bergmeister driving the closing stint, damn near pulled the rabbit out of the hat with a stunning driving performance.
With less than five minutes remaining in the caution-filled race, Bergmeister had worked the Port Lavaca/Forgeline No. 66 into fourth place. The four leading cars were nose-to-tail with only seconds separating them and the 66 car had just turned the fastest lap of the race. Bergmeister was on a tear and headed to the front.
Bergmeister executed a brilliant pass on the 3rd place No.59 Brumos Porsche driven by Leh Keen on the outside of Turn Six. Unfortunately, the No. 59 slid slightly up into the back end of Bergmeister and sent him spinning into the gravel, ending the teams run for the win and the exciting end of the race.
Comments from the drivers and team owner Kevin Buckler about the inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix.
Bergmeister: "I really thought we had a chance to make a run at it. We pitted earlier than most for our final stop but caught some cautions to conserve fuel, and the tires were holding up. When the No. 70 car got by the No. 59 (with about five minutes left in the race), I just followed and thought I was by him. I tried to give him room but got hit and I ended up in the gravel pit. I felt bad because we had a really good car today. Ben did a great job in the opening stint, and the race was really coming to us. I thought we could have had at least a podium today."
Keating: "It was great to be at Indy, although starting mid-pack in the rain was crazy. I love racing in the rain, but I never got comfortable for some reason. I was excited to watch Jorg work. He is amazing. He had a podium in the bag. Even though we got knocked out by an over-aggressive No. 59, it was fun to compete out front. We played our cards right. We were in the hunt in the closing laps, and that is really all you can ask for. It was awesome."
Salazar: "It was a pretty eventful race for me from the beginning. I got in trouble for jumping the start. Everyone was going so slow in the rain, so I started with an early stop and go. I caught up, passed 6 or 7 guys and then ended up in a gravel trap and lost a few laps. When Eduardo got in, he got caught in one of those rain bursts and he really hasn't driven much under those conditions. I was happy that I was able to turn my fastest lap in my final stint. This is a great track - my favorite - and I really enjoyed being back."
Costabal: "I am very proud of my first year with TRG. It was my first time with a real race team, and with TRG I got the chance to race at some of the most important tracks in the world - Daytona, Watkins Glen and Indianapolis - and with the best drivers and the best team. I appreciate all the TRG crew and all they were able to teach me. And I appreciate Eliseo asking me to drive with him. It's a real honor to drive with someone like him who has such a great history in racing."
Buckler: "The Brickyard is a very special place in motorsports history and we almost created some history of our own today. We were on our way to a great finish. It's a shame that the No. 59 got into Jorg and put him in the gravel trap. Ben was super in his opening stint and had to deal with an unbelievably challenging situation with the crazy weather. I mean it was intense!!!.. and he did a great job."
"I continue to be more and more impressed with Eliseo and Eduardo every race. They have a great understanding of what it takes to compete in a very talented sportscar field, especially with Eliseo's background. Eduardo has been a rock through these three amazing races and improved at every turn. I really believe that if these guys had the chance to run every race, they would continue to challenge more and more. They are just so solid and keep doing all the right things on track that it takes to succeed."