WATKINS GLEN, NY — The final weekend in June was a scorcher in upstate New York. With temps in the mid-90s on race day at the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge in Watkins Glen, every team in attendance knew they were in for a mind-frying, tire-melting, four-hour test of sheer human and mechanical endurance.
For the #81 BimmerWorld Legistics/Veristor/YouRulz Racing to End Alzheimer’s team, things were heating up in more ways than one. At the top of the timing sheets in practice sessions, the team had a blazing fast qualifying run, with driver Devin Jones setting a new track record (previously set by teammate Nick Galante the year before). Meanwhile, the Racing to End Alzheimer’s tent was a hive of activity, with dedicated team members working full throttle to get the word out about this year’s revved up campaign to fund efforts to stop Alzheimer’s in its tracks.
A smokin' start
With the mercury soaring as the green flag came down, Devin Jones got off to a great start to take the lead into turn one. A crash up ahead in another class threw the field into chaos, forcing Jones to navigate around the mess, narrowly avoiding a potentially debilitating collision to maintain his lead in the ST class. By lap 15, Jones had extended his lead by over 8 seconds. Still holding the #1 position, he pitted for a full stop at the halfway point in the race.
Nick Galante tore onto the track for the remaining two-hour stint. Maintaining the lead, he pulled into the pit for a final fuel stop and fresh tires with an hour remaining on the clock. But something wasn’t right. A slight fuel leak tipped the crew to a rip in the fuel hose. The team made a strategic decision to send Galante back onto the track while repairs were made. He pitted again to receive the necessary fix and fuel to finish the race. Despite the lost time, the #81 quickly caught up with the field. Now in 4th place, Galante began his charge toward the front. With 20 minutes remaining, he was in 3rd and closing in on the points-leading car of Matt Pombo. After a five-lap battle, Galante executed a pass heading into the tight downhill turn #6 to claim the 2nd spot.
Keeping the heat on
With only 10 minutes left in the race, it looked like the team was going to cruise its way to at least a 2nd place finish. But this sizzler of a race wasn’t over yet. A car attempting a late pass failed to hold his line, slamming into the side of the #81. When Galante recovered from the subsequent spin, he was back in 3rd place. Keeping his head down and gunning it to close the gap, Galante was in position to capitalize when the points-leading car broke its drive shaft on the penultimate lap of the grueling four-hour race. The #81 claimed the 2nd spot after all – and rose to 2nd in the season points standings. All in all, a great result in a true pot boiler of a race.
Next up: The team heads over the border to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville Ontario. Watch the race live at imsa.com on Saturday July 7th at 2:55 ET.