Takes 4th in Round 1 at Sebring
Milwaukee, Wisconsin (May 16, 2011))—Jeff Courtney, driver of the #99 KENDA Tires/JCR Motorsports Dodge Viper ACR-X had an excellent opening weekend in the 2011 Viper Cup at Sebring International Raceway. Courtney took 4th in Saturday’s Round 1 race, only to improve and take 1st place on Sunday’s Round 2.
“I’d first like to thank the people that made this win possible,” said Courtney. “I’d like to thank my sponsors, KENDA Tires, RecStuff.com, JG Wheels, Discount Tires, and Coins of America. Also thanks go out to the crew, Todd Albrecht, Mark Barton, and Greg Fordahl.”
In Saturday’s Round 1, the team dealt with numerous adjustments brought on by the weather over the weekend. After a morning rain, the track was wet but conditions seemed to be drying. “At the last minute,” said Courtney, “We felt that the track was drying, so we changed to a dry set-up.” At the same time, a crash on the track eliminated the team from setting a qualifying time, which in turn forced them to start the #99 KENDA Viper at the back of the pack.
“We had to start at the back of the field,” said Courtney. “I knew we had a good car and was confidant we could get to the front if we could catch a few breaks.” Although Courtney had a good start, jumping from 11th place to 6th on the opening lap, it was all for naught as Dave Fiorelli’s Viper hit the wall at the start of the race, which red-flagged the race to repair the wall. As race fans know, if you don’t complete the first lap, you must re-start in the original starting position. The cars waited in pit lane for the wall to be repaired for the majority of the race time. When the race began again under a green-white checkered flag, drivers had only one lap to make anything happen. Courtney was able to jump from the 11th position to 4th in just one lap.
“We had a great game plan and set-up for Saturday,” said Courtney. “Things just backfired; it was all we could do to climb to 4th. In hindsight it was a great one-lap run.” The following day looked like a repeat of Saturday’s weather; it rained all of Saturday night into Sunday morning, but the forecast looked promising for Sunday’s Round 2. “We qualified 3rd on Sunday on a wet but drying track” Courtney said. “Due to weather conditions, I qualified on used tires; which meant I would be starting the race on those same tires.”
Both Courtney and pole-sitter Ben Keating got a great jump at the start. Courtney moved into 2nd behind Keating. “As we charged into Turn 1, Ben drove in way to deep, lost control and hit the wall.” Courtney inherited first place by Turn 1, and by Turn 2 was locked into a fierce battle with A.J. Morgan. “Morgan out-powered me on the backstretch to pass for the lead, and set a small gap. I was focusing on maintaining my tires for the first half of the race. I started to gain on Morgan, hoping to put some pressure on him, but as I started to apply pressure to him I believe he started to have clutch problems. I made the pass back to first place and from that point on we set sail for a relatively easy, uncontested win.”
“It’s ironic,” said Courtney. “On Saturday, I felt like we made a lot of smart decisions, and we took 4th. On Sunday, there are a lot of things I’d like to do differently, and yet we won. I guess things just have a way of balancing out.”