An ecstatic RS1 Legistics/RickieFowler.com racing team celebrated a hard-fought victory on July 2nd at Watkins Glen International Raceway. Co-drivers Nick Galante and Spencer Pumpelly, racing the No. 17 Porsche Cayman, battled from behind to take the top prize in a race rife with crashes, contact and tough calls.
Heading in to qualifying with the threat of rain in the forecast, the team had a decision to make. Race officials had taken a “middle of the road” approach to the uncertain conditions, leaving it up to the racers to decide whether to run on faster dry tires or play it safe with slower rain tires. The RS1 team rolled the dice and took to the track with dry tires; 90% of the cars chose to run the race with rain tires. With parts of the track still wet from a rain-shower, the No. 17 found it tough going and qualified toward the back of the pack.
Nick Galante faced a daunting challenge going into the race. He had 20+ cars to pass in order to give his team a fighting chance at the podium. The race had barely begun when the No. 17 experienced light contact. Galante was still assessing the effects of his close call when all hell broke loose.
A wild ride
On just the second turn of the race, multiple cars crashed and veered off course; in the smoke and chaos that ensued, Galante made a series of split-second maneuvers, put his head down – and proceeded directly into “the zone.”
“Everything just started to click,” Galante said. “I’ve gotten to really know this car, I’ve figured out what it feels like on the ragged edge, so I can push it to its limits with some confidence.”
By the mid-point of the race, Galante had passed 22 cars; he shot into his first and only pit stop near the top of the pack. Galvanized by his performance, the crew performed a perfect pit stop – filling the tank, replacing the tires and changing drivers in lightning-fast succession.
Now it was driver Spencer Pumpelly’s turn. Entering the race in 6th place, Pumpelly laid down one fast lap after another; he passed the lead car with an hour remaining in the race – and never looked back.
“So much has to go right to even finish a race,” Nick Galante said. “To win takes not just a great driver or a great car, it takes the right moves by every person involved. If a guy puts a $1.50 cap on the tire wrong, it can lose you the race. Our entire crew was amazing – this was definitely a team win.”
Now in first place in the standings in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, Galante and Pumpelly will defend their lead at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Saturday, July 9th. Tune in for what promises to be another exciting race!