This past weekend the team traveled to Homestead, Florida for the Tropical Endurance Series event at Homestead Speedway with the ITA Acura Integra. This was a double race weekend meaning that we would run a 1.5 hour Enduro on Saturday with the course in one configuration and then another 1.5 hour Enduro on Sunday with the course in another configuration. Neither of the team drivers have run on the Homestead course before so the short qualifying sessions would be their first go at learning the track layout and how it wants to be driven.
Splitting the qualifying session on Saturday morning Louis Murphy and Russell McMullen got in some much needed laps learning the course and although not running any lightning fast speeds still managed a 3rd in class qualifying position and 16th overall starting spot for the 1.5 hour Saturday Enduro. Russell McMullen began in the driver's seat for the Saturday race and within 10 laps he had pulled the IPGParts.com ITA Integra into the first position in the ITA Class. Braking issues with the car meant that the team had to take it easy in an attempt to get the car to the finish line. Halfway through the race the team's scheduled pit stop was run and Louis Murphy got behind the wheel. In just a couple of laps the braking issues began to rear their ugly head and the extreme temperature that the passenger side front brake rotor was seeing started to cause the axle to fail. Murphy did all he could but the failing parts made the car extremely difficult to drive and eventually part failure and loss of brakes forced the team to come to pit road with only 10 minutes left in the race. The team still finished 5th in class and 26th overall and in fact actually ran the quickest lap in the ITA class during the race with a 1:49.788 (on the Homestead Speedway non-banking course, not using Nascar turns 3 and 4).
With another 1.5 hour Enduro looming for Sunday the team quickly put together a plan to rectify the brake issue and get ready to take a run at that 1st spot. The backup axles were installed and the car was prepped to get all new Brake Calipers, Rotors and Pads for Sunday. A quick trip to Home Depot got some parts for a quick make shift brake duct cooling system. Sunday morning went smoothly getting the car back up and running andwas well worth it as Russell McMullen set a blistering 1:41.709 lap time (on the Homestead course using Nascar turns 3 and 4) to obtain the #1 qualifying position in class and 10th overall starting spot. The team led the first half of the race with Louis Murphy behind the wheel until the exhaust decided to fall off, that in conjunction with an untimely caution flag closing pit road put the team in an odd situation where they had to pit to fix the exhaust but the stop didn't count as the required pit stop for the race. The problem was fixed quickly and McMullen got in the car continuing to run quick lap times but having to come to pit road for a 2nd time to meet the pit stop requirements put the team out of contention.
But yet, still good news as the team ran the quickest lap time during the race in the ITA class in the Sunday race as well. The weekend was full of ups and down but overall it was a success as the team proved that they can in fact be the quickest car in the ITA class at the events. Some more testing and couple of changes to the car to make it more solid will surely help the team work its was to its first win. Here is a video from the in car start of the Saturday Race, and in car start of the Sunday race and some other fun action. The team is next scheduled to race July 16th-17th at Sebring Intl Raceway.