Eric Curran, Boris Said, and the Whelen Motorsports team rolled in to Indianapolis Motor Speedway last week with the #31 Whelen Corvette for the Indianapolis Brickyard Grand Prix; the ninth round in the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. In the test day earlier this month, Eric Curran set the fastest time in practice, allowing the team to enter the weekend with confidence accompanied by a fast and comfortable car.
Going into a race on a track that has never been run before is always a challenge. Throw in the fact that practice, qualifying, and the race are scheduled for the same day and it can be more than hectic. Some drivers, including Eric Curran and Boris Said, also ran in the Continental Tire Sports Car Series race, which took the checkered flag just less than an hour before the green flag for the Rolex three-hour enduro. Boris would qualify the #31 Team Fox / Whelen Corvette in the P2 spot on the grid with a 1:30.457, just one tenth behind the pole and only two thousandths ahead of the #57 Stevenson Camaro GT.R.
Regardless of preparation, the weather can always act up throwing in a few more challenges. The skies opened up halfway through the Continental Tire race leaving the Rolex Series teams scratching their heads in terms of tire strategy.
The Inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix began under caution in wet track conditions with a green flag being displayed the following lap. Boris quickly got to work behind the wheel and kept the #31 in the number two spot up until the first pit stop, where it came back on the track in P3. The Corvette would stay within the top five GT cars for the entire stint driven by Said.
Eric got into the #31 Team Fox / Whelen Corvette near the halfway mark of the race and eventually brought the car up to the top spot in the Rolex GT field. Pit strategy came into play when the skies opened up for the third time of the day and forced teams to switch from rain tires to slicks and then back to rain tires again.
With about an hour remaining in the race some teams decided to risk it on fuel while the Whelen Motorsports crew did a final fuel stop around the forty minute mark, allowing them to go to the finish with no issues under green flag conditions, but doing so placed the #31 back in P10.
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Some aggressive driving by other drivers combined with a wet and dirty track resulted in some lengthy yellow flags. Unfortunately, cautions breed cautions and most of the final hour was under yellow flag conditions, with a few green flag sprints, allowing the cars that pit outside of the final fuel window to cruise to the finish line.
Eric commented on the day, "It was really busy running both the Continental race and the Rolex race in the same afternoon.
Winning the first ever Continental Tire race at the Brickyard in the CKS Camaro and finishing 7th in the Corvette doesn't make for a bad day, though."
"We were the top Chevrolet in the both races on Friday afternoon. We definitely held the Chevy banner high today.
The race got a bit crazy once the rain came. Pit strategy and tire choice was a tough call. We found ourselves in the lead
with an hour to go but had to pit again for fuel and fell back to tenth. I fought my way back to P7 but really struggled to pass cars with the one narrow racing line through the water soaked and gravel covered infield."
"Special thanks to the Fox Foundation for their support with our Whelen Corvette for Indianapolis and the rest of the racing season. Please help support Team Fox and the Race to Cure Parkinson's! Click on the Team Fox logo below to donate."
Follow the Whelen Motorsports team on to The Continental Tire 200 at Watkins Glen International on August 11th for the next round of the GRAND-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. The race will be televised live on SPEED on 8/11 at 6:00 PM ET.
Be sure to check out the entire photo gallery and the video above from the Inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the Eric Curran Facebook page.
ABOUT WHELEN ENGINEERING:
Whelen Engineering Inc. was founded in 1952 by George W. Whelen III with the development of a rotating aircraft "anti-collision beacon" product that quickly found use with police, fire and public safety departments across the country and around the world.
Whelen is now the world's largest designer and manufacturer of emergency visual and audible warning products. Whelen is the only United States manufacturer of emergency warning equipment that continues to design and manufacture all of its products entirely in the United States.
Whelen is the entitlement sponsor of three NASCAR grass-roots racing series and is the major corporate sponsor of the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project, Inc., the designer and supplier of bobsleds to the USA Bobsled Team, including the "Night Train" four-man bobsled that won the Olympic Gold Medal at the Vancouver Olympics.
Located in Chester, CT, Whelen Engineering is owned by George W. "Sonny" Whelen IV, son of the company's founder. The company's website is www.Whelen.com.