The value of having a crew is indisputable. The value of that crew becomes indisputably exponential at a National Championships event. Take three-time GTS Champion Randy Mueller, for example.
Just before Mueller went to grid, the antilock braking system stopped functioning. In just under five minutes before the cars headed out on track, Mueller’s crew was able to get it back together and working again, and Mueller took the start from his pole position.
Mueller was trailed by Brian Ward in second and Mark Lounsbury in third. When the green flag dropped, Mueller did what largely was expected of him: run away from the pack and take the win and the Championship.
“I’ve gotten to be the hero and be in the car today, but there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes.” Mueller said. “It’s a package to be able to win races like this. It’s not just the driver. It’s the equipment that you’re in, the people who put it together. We’ve got all the right sponsors. We’ve got MCS for the suspension. The Hoosiers were great. We set a lap record yesterday on nine-heat-cycled tires with Hoosiers. It’s pretty incredible. We’ve got Bimmerworld. We’ve got Red Line Oils, Epic Motorsports. It’s just great to have them behind me and to give me a car to be able to do what I’m doing here.”
That left the rest of the GTS4 field to battle for the last two spots on the podium. And it wasn’t easy. The GTS races were a bit of a mess, what with flying body parts scattered around the track and four disparate classes of racing, each with its own agenda. By the time the checkers flew, the top three starters had claimed their places on the podium. Lounsbury finished second behind Mueller by a wide margin.
“It was rather exciting,” Lounsbury said. “I had my coach here telling me to dig, dig, dig, to keep Randy in sight, but that wasn’t too successful, and I spun, did a complete 360 in 10. I put it in gear and kept going and was able to hold off Brian to the end. I had a 20-second lead, and then I had a 7-second lead.”
Ward finished third behind Lounsbury, enticed by his mistake, but happy to get on the podium.
“I was aggressive in the first turn, and I went out a little wide, got marbles on the tires and I spun the car,” Ward said. “I think we all knew Randy was going to be first, so all weekend long it has kind of been a battle for second. That was my goal to get on the podium. This my first Nationals that I’ve competed in, and I accomplished a goal. I’m overwhelmed, man. I just raced as hard as I could and it was a blast.”