Back to The Glen with No. 40 VISIT FLORIDA and No. 41 FishingCapital.com/Bass 2 Billfish Mazda RX-8 GT Teams
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 9, 2012) – Dempsey Racing returns to the site of the team’s only GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race win this weekend at Watkins Glen International where Joe Foster and Tom Long will co-drive the No. 40 VISIT FLORIDA Mazda RX-8 GT for the second time this year and Charles Espenlaub and Charlie Putman will team in the No. 41 FishingCapital.com/Bass 2 Billfish Mazda RX-8 GT in Saturday’s Continental Tire 200 presented by Dunn Tire.
A two-hour sprint race that is Round 10 of 13 events on the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series schedule, the Continental Tire 200 can be seen live on SPEED this Saturday, August 11, at 6 p.m. EDT/3 p.m. PDT.
Long will be filling in for Dempsey Racing team owner and lead driver Patrick Dempsey who learned just hours ago that what he calls his Hollywood “day job” will keep him working into the weekend back in California. Long, Dempsey’s designated stand-in driver when he is forced to miss a race, is filling in for the second time this year as Foster’s co-driver after joining him at the Grand Prix of Miami in April when Dempsey couldn’t break away from his filming schedule.
“There’s always a chance Patrick will miss a race, and unfortunately that became a reality today, but we always have a plan for this type of situation with Tom waiting in the wings,” Foster said. “He and I co-drove together at Miami when Patrick had to finish up the shooting for last season’s Grey’s Anatomy finale, and we had a shot at winning but needed just a little bit more luck in the rain. Hopefully that luck will come our way this weekend and I guarantee Patrick will be watching back in California.”
Part of Dempsey Racing since 2011, Long joined Dempsey, Foster and Espenlaub for a third-place finish in the No. 40 in that year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona, a team-best result in the grueling day-long race. Long was also part of the No. 40 squad at this year’s Rolex 24 and joined Dempsey and Foster on the driver lineup one race ago for the Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Long also teamed up with Scott Maxwell in the No. 40 at New Jersey Motorsports Park in May while Dempsey and Foster were competing in the ALMS race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the No. 27 Trina Solar/GNC/Beverages Motegi Racing Lola-Judd P2.
On the FishingCapital.com/Bass 2 Billfish front, Espenlaub and Putman will be looking for a fourth-straight top-10 finish Saturday in a race the No. 41 team won in 2010 with then team drivers James Gué and Leh Keen. That breakout victory remains Dempsey Racing’s only win to date but both team Mazdas have combined for several competitive showings and podium finishes the last few seasons.
Saturday’s Glen race kicks-off the third and final stretch of back-to-back races on the 2012 schedule and next Saturday’s Montreal race is another timed two-hour sprint on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve Formula One course. Earlier this summer the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series ran consecutive weekend races at Belle Isle in Detroit and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in early in June and then closed out that month with back-to-back races at Road America and the Sahlen’s Six Hours here at Watkins Glen.
Road America and the Sahlen’s started the top-10 finishing streak for the No. 41 that continued through the Indy race. Espenlaub and Putman brought the FishingCapital.com/Bass 2 Billfish car home eighth at Road America and in the Sahlen’s and finished ninth at Indy.
The Sahlen’s Six Hours takes place on the traditional 3.4-mile Watkins Glen Grand Prix circuit but this weekend’s race runs on the 2.45-mile NASCAR “short course” layout.
“This is essentially an all-out sprint race as compared to the six-hour race we just finished,” Putman said. “Even though I’m very experienced at the Glen, this is my first opportunity to run on the short course so I am looking forward to it. The shorter course means shorter lap times, which also changes up the strategy and leans us toward a sprint-race format. The Glen is a good track for us as drivers, it fits our style very well in general, but at this point I’m not sure how we will stack up to the other makes on the short course. The short course removes almost all of the technical turns which are the strength of our Mazda.”
Foster also acknowledges the reality of what will be a challenging race for both Mazdas on Saturday.
“The Glen has always been a very good track for both Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 GTs but it has become a little tougher to maintain that performance recently,” Foster said. “The Mazda is really at the end of its development cycle within the current rules structure and some of the other manufacturers seem to certainly have a performance edge. So, it is just more of us keeping our focus, doing the best job we possibly can on what we can control with preparation, strategy and good pit stops to be the best of the Mazdas.”
The Continental Tire 200 two-day schedule begins Friday with practice, late-afternoon qualifying and final practice early that evening. After that, no on-track activity is scheduled until Saturday’s race at 6 p.m. EDT.