Fabled Indianapolis Motor Speedway Looms Next for TRG

TRG heads to Round Nine of the Rolex Grand-Am Series and this one is a biggie.  Not only is it part of the Grand-Am's new three-race Endurance Championship, but it's Indy ... that's right  - "THE" Indianapolis Motor Speedway where legends race and legends are made. 

TRG's Eliseo Salazar has been there.  In 1996, he sat on the front row and finished third in the fabled Indianapolis 500.  This time, Salazar's assault comes in sports car racing with his Daytona and Watkins Glen co-pilot Eduardo Costabal. 

TRG's  second entry will be equally as formidable.  Ben Keating, who leads the points race in the Dodge Viper Cup series with four wins in six attempts this season, teams with Porsche factory all-star Jorg Bergmeister, one of the decade's  most decorated sports car racers.

Add in the fact that TRG's 150-plus podiums in sports car racing over the last 20 years makes it the most prolific Porsche sports car team during that span, and you have a team clearly focused on what matters - winning.

"This is an important race" says team owner Kevin Buckler.  "It's Indy.  It's part of the three-race Enduro.  And teams get really psyched and prepared for something like this.  We're going to have to bring our 'A' game, and that's what we are doing."

Salazar and Costabal drove together at the Daytona 24 earlier this year, constantly moving up through the field with virtually no issues during the entire 24 hours.  At the Six Hours at the Glen a few weeks ago, the duo racing with Santiago Orjuela, had the highest finish of the three TRG entries. 

"These guys do an amazing job of not only keeping the car together, but driving with their heads," said Buckler.  "And that usually results in them being there at the end and moving into contention.  Eliseo has some great history and memories here. We'd like him to leave with yet another."

Keating is a frequent pilot in the TRG paddock.  Earlier this year, he and his teammates nailed a Top Seven at Daytona and were in the hunt in Watkins Glen until a mess at the restart sent the car to the garage.  In Bergmeister, Keating gets a seatmate who has won multiple series championships and virtually every major sports car race, and has a long history with TRG including three victories at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

"We are going after this one," says Keating.  "We've had good cars at both Daytona and Watkins Glen.  Racing at Indy is special and I believe we can turn in a special type of performance.  Jorg is one of the best sports car drivers on the planet.  He's smart, self-assured and fast.  I'm looking forward to driving with him and hopefully collecting a little hardware."

For Salazar, the return to Indy for the former Indy car and Formula One driver is one filled with great memories and expectations.  Salazar is the only driver in the world who has ever raced in the five race classics of the Indianapolis 500, Monte Carlo (F1), 24 Hours of Le Mans, Daytona 24 and the Dakar Rally.

"I've been fortunate to have raced at many revered circuits all over the world," said Salazar with a gleam in his eye.  "But I can tell you that Indy is my favorite track.  I look forward taking it on in a TRG Porsche."

The race will be telecast live Friday at 4:00 p.m. EST on SPEED.

Last Updated (Thursday, 26 July 2012 16:10)


TRG Wins at Mosport

Spencer Pumpelly and Emilio DiGuida went north of the border to the Grand Prix of Mosport focused on one thing - winning.  And win they did!

With DiGuida driving a flawless opening stint and Pumpelly playing chase the last 30 minutes of the classic at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, TRG's No. 66 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car claimed the second ALMS win of the season for TRG, keeping them in the team championship picture for 2012.

"This was a great win today by the TRG guys," said Pumpelly.  "Emilio did a fantastic opening stint and really kept us in the hunt, even taking his turn at leading for a while. We lost a little time during one of our pit stops but a late race yellow allowed us to catch back up and be in position to attack for the win."

"I had never driven here before," said DiGuida, who won earlier this year for TRG at Laguna Seca with Jeroen Bleekemolen and Bret Curtis.  "But we had some good track time and Spence walked me through a few things that were super helpful .... and the guys just gave us an amazing car today!"

With less than 25 minutes remaining, the race's third yellow appeared with TRG and Pumpelly trailing by about 12 seconds.  When the green was thrown with 13 minutes to go, Pumpelly trailed by just a little more than four seconds.  He gradually squeezed the No. 11 car and passed with just under eight minutes to go. 

The race was far from over, however, as the No. 22 car with Leh Keen behind the wheel kept closing,  only a second or two behind Pumpelly.  The veteran sports car driver held him off, however, winning for the second time at Mosport in as many years. Last year's win at Mosport was its second of three consecutive victories that sprung TRG into the championship hunt.

"I am really really proud of the entire team this weekend," commented team owner Kevin Buckler.  "This is one tough track--the manly man track and Emilio jumped right in and had one of his best races and stints so far.  Spence was a great closer as always and the crew prepared a perfect car.  TRG has a great history here with one of our first ALMS GT wins for us in 2002 so the tradition continues!!  Our eyes are set on a championship here and winning every single race we can from here on out."

"We were on a nice streak here last year, so hopefully this will have a similar effect and lead to more victories in 2012 and perhaps even a championship run," said Pumpelly.  "Everyone did a great job.  I'm very proud of our effort today."

"Two wins now in ALMS," remarked DiGuida.  "I'm thrilled.  TRG is a great team to race for and Spencer is the best teammate anyone could imagine.  I feel like the entire team is getting better and better.  I'm hoping we can win a few more before the season is out."

TRG's next ALMS race is at MidOhio on August 4th.  It is half way through the 2012 schedule and TRG is currently in third place in the GTC class, unofficially six points out of second and 18 out of the lead.

Last Updated (Thursday, 26 July 2012 15:42)


TRG Up to the Challenge at Fast Mosport Circuit

Emilio DiGuidaPETALUMA, CA (July 19) - TRG's up-and-coming star Emilio DiGuida steps onto center stage with teammate Spencer Pumpelly at one of the fastest road circuits in North America this weekend at Mosport's Canadian Tire Motorsports Park for Round Five of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron.  DiGuida, who captured his first ALMS win earlier this year at Laguna Seca, knows that his copilot captured a win here a year ago and wants to repeat. 

"I know Mosport is a very fast and demanding track," says DiGuida.  "Spencer says I will get a real thrill out of it," said DiGuida.  "If you have to take on this course with anyone, you want it to be the defending champion.  I'm ready!" 

A year ago, Pumpelly captured the second of three straight TRG wins with an outstanding run at the 2.459-mile road course outside Toronto.  It marked back-to-back wins for the team and was the second of three consecutive victories for the Pumpelly-led TRG car.

Spencer Pumpelly"Mosport is one great and challenging track," says Pumpelly, who also sat on the GTC pole a year ago. "And it's not for the faint of heart.  It is really, really fast.  You have to be alert at all times.  But it's a racer's dream drive.  I am really looking forward to getting back. Good memories."

With six rounds still remaining in the American Le Mans Series, TRG is still very much in the hunt for the team championship, particularly if it can repeat its mid-season surge of a year ago. 

"We have some tracks coming up where we've had some very, very good runs throughout our history," said team owner Kevin Buckler.  "I know Emilio and Spencer are very focused this week.  Emilio has really come on strong, and I'm sure he will be up to the test on this challenging course.  With his big win at Laguna Seca and our dominant 1-2 finish here last year, the entire team and crew are pumped."

Qualifying for the Mobil 1 Grand Prix of Mosport is Saturday at 3:20 p.m. EST.  It can be seen live on  Green flag for the 2 hour 45 minute race is Sunday at 12:00 noon EST.  ESPN3 will air the race live, with ESPN2 providing one-hour delay coverage at 1:00 p.m EST.

Last Updated (Thursday, 19 July 2012 23:47)


Fast Laps at Lime Rock in Catch-Up Game

PETALUMA, CA (July 9) - Sometimes you have the fastest car and you don't win.  It's just that simple. Then again it's not.

TRG's Spencer Pumpelly set the fast GTC lap of the race Saturday at the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park, but the team was foiled by an early lug nut issue that shredded a tire and caused the team to lose several laps as it assessed and fixed the damage.

"We had a left rear lug nut issue early in race (lap 7) and I had to bring it in," said Mike Piera who was driving the leadoff stint.

"The guys worked hard but it took a while to get the tire off because it was all torn up," said veteran teammate Pumpelly, "and it took awhile to get another one on, and we just lost too many laps.  Too bad, because we were turning the fastest laps in class by the end of the race, but we were just too far down.  We’ve had great cars all season long, but seems like one little thing bites us."

"On a short track like Lime Rock, you can get a couple laps down in a hurry," said team owner Kevin Buckler.  "We were able to take advantage of a couple of cautions, but it wasn’t enough.  Too bad because we had a really fast car.  Mike knows that track like the back of his hand and drove really well.   He took the win there with us last year and we all had a great feeling about the race going in.   I'm convinced we are going to get one real soon.  We have been all over it this year.  Last year, we kicked in mid-season.  We're ready for history to repeat itself."

A year ago, TRG hit its mid-season stride with three straight wins, including at Mosport where North American's most successful Porsche sports car team over the last 20 years heads next for Round Five of the American Le Mans Series.  With 10 races, the season is not even at its halfway point.

"We are still very much in the hunt," said Buckler, "and there's a long way to go.  We are coming into a string of tracks that we are very strong on and have won on many times and plan on winning again."

TRG's Piera Seeks Another Win at Lime Rock Co-driving with Pumpelly

limerock_podiumPETALUMA, CA (July 3) - TRG's Mike Piera returns to the scene of his first professional race win, to defend the team's honor and to hopefully repeat, at this weekend's ALMS race at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, CT.   He will be joined by TRG driver Spencer Pumpelly.   In a show of team dominance at last year's Lime Rock event, TRG finished an epic 1-2 and is looking for another win this coming Saturday.   

"We are really, really happy to have Mike back with us again at Lime Rock," said team owner Kevin Buckler.  "He grew up here and he knows this track.  He did a great job for us last year and I think that he and Spence are going to be tough to beat this weekend."

TRG enters Round Four of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron in third place in GTC class, a situation similar to last season before it began a string of three straight ALMS wins and finished the year with six podiums in the last seven races.  As a matter of fact, TRG had back-to-back 1-2 finishes at Lime Rock and Mosport a year ago.

"Yeah, we kind of got on a roll, beginning at Lime Rock last year," said Pumpelly.  "Mike helped start all of that.  Perhaps he's the lucky penny."

Buckler says luck has had little to do with TRG's success.

"We have a great crew and everyone in this organization works their butts off," says Buckler.  "Lime Rock has certainly been a good track for us, and with Mike's history, knowledge and experience here, we should do well again."

Piera, who is a bit of a rock star (more on that in a minute), has raced at Lime Rock for more than 30 years.  He has twice won the Solo-II National Championship and was the SCCA Northeast Division champion in GT2 class.  In 2007 and 2008, Piera raced in the Grand-Am Koni Challenge and finished sixth at Lime Rock Park. 

"I have some great memories here at Lime Rock," said Piera.  "And last year's win with TRG was one of the best.  To win a big ALMS race here in my backyard... Wow.  That was pretty special.  But we're not going to rest on those laurels.  Spencer and I will definitely be after another one here again this weekend."

In life off the track, Piera is the owner of Analog Man guitar effects.  His guitar pedals can be seen on stage with bands such as Aerosmith and ZZ Top.

The American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix will be telecast by ESPN2 on Saturday, July 7 beginning at 4:00 p.m. EST.   ESPN3 will stream the race live at 2:45 p.m. EST that afternoon.  Qualifying will also be carried live by ESPN3 on Friday, July 6 at 3:05 p.m. EST.

Last Updated (Friday, 06 July 2012 20:16)

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