TV: The Continental Tire 150 will be broadcast on SPEED July 14, 1:00 ET.
(Photo GRAND-AM COMMUNICATIONS)
Watkins Glen, NY (30 June 2012) – Michael Marsal added another significant lesson to his racing notebook when he led his first-ever laps in GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge competition in Saturday’s Continental Tire 150 at Watkins Glen.
Teaming with Boris Said, Marsal scored his fourth top-10 result of season with the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 as Marsal continued to charge through a busy summer of racing.
Marsal opened the 2.5-hour race at the legendary Watkins Glen circuit from 10th on the grid and carried out a great start as he immediately began to move forward to run seventh at the end of the first lap – defending against the championship-leading and race-winning No. 13 machine. After the first restart, Marsal would continue his forward progress and take the point for the first time in his GRAND-AM career on Lap 16 as a variety of pit strategies began to play out.
With several in the field equipped with fresh Continental Tires having already pitted, Marsal led the field to the green for the second race restart and put the lessons he has learned to good use, holding the lead and opening up a gap to the 65-car field.
That hard work was thrown out when another caution period slowed the race and erased Marsal’s lead.
A third restart saw Marsal eventually forced to relinquish the lead, but he held on to run among the top-three as he ran nearly to the halfway point of the race before turning the car over to Said under green flag conditions.
“That was a good start and I had fun leading the race,” enthused Marsal after the pit exchange. “I was just flat out when they dropped the flag and flat-shifted up the gears. It was cool to be up front but some of the guys had newer tires than I did, so I tried to hold them off as long as I could but eventually had to slot into third. It was a good run and the car was solid.”
Following the green flag pit stop, Said returned to the track deep in the order, but raced back through the field to run 14th when the team brought the No. 97 in for a final pit stop under a full course caution with about 50 minutes remaining. An unfortunate pit road miscue saw the No. 97 restart 20th, but the experienced road racer battled back to improve 10 positions in the final 40 minutes to bring the team another top-10 finish.
“It was fun and I ran a good race but I’m just bummed about everybody wrecking,” said Marsal of the race that saw seven caution periods. “I think they need to do something to make it so that people aren’t doing dumb stuff. It’s just dumb wrecks and I don’t think it’s fun for anybody when we have seven cautions in a race. We could have had a great finish. We were on the right strategy and I didn’t do anything wrong during my stint. We had a great car and it’s just ridiculous that it always winds up this way.”
While the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series will have a few weeks off before Round 8 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, Marsal will be back in race action next weekend driving the No. 20 Dyson Racing Mazda B11/66 Lola as he returns to American Le Mans Series competition at Lime Rock Park.
The Continental Tire 150 will be televised July 14 at 1:00 PM (ET) on SPEED.