Leading into Saturday’s race at the Homestead-Miami circuit in Florida, the three-car BimmerWorld BMW 328i GRAND-AM Continental Tire Series team had every reason to feel bullish about its chances to earn back-to-back victories.
Coming off a savvy win at the previous round at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, the Dublin, Va.-based BMW experts picked up right where they left off, placing the No. 80 BMW of team owner James Clay and co-driver John Capestro-Dubets fourth in Street Tuner qualifying, and the No. 81 of Barber winners Gregory Liefooghe and David Levine 10th on the grid.
The No. 82 CRC BRAKLEEN® BMW 328i of Seth Thomas and Dan Rogers wasn’t quite as fortunate, but despite starting 30th in class, the veteran racers had designs on moving to the front once the green flag waved.
With reliability serving as one of the hallmarks of the BMW brand—and the BMWs raced by BimmerWorld—the team was dealt a double dose of misfortune as the Nos. 80 and 81 retired within the first eight laps with undisclosed drivetrain issues.
Surviving the tricky track conditions as the race transitioned from wet to dry played into the hands of Thomas and Rogers as the pair appeared to be in the hunt for a podium finish, but on a day where odd things took place with two team cars, the third member of the BimmerWorld fleet couldn’t escape a similar fate, ending its run on Lap 40 of the 82-lap event.
“Overall, the race was really decent for the No. 82 CRC BRAKLEEN® BMW,” explains Thomas. “Dan did a great job in his stint showing off his Northwestern wet weather driving style. He moved up several spots while the track was wet, despite having never driven at Homestead in the rain. When we switched drivers, the track was drying out and it was a toss-up about going to slick tires or staying with the wets. Slicks were the way to go as the track didn’t take long to develop a dry line. At this point the car really started to shine.
“I mixed it up with an aggressive bunch of cars as I saw them switching spots lap after lap, going three-wide into turns, with several cars still on wet tires and using their straightline speed to keep us behind them. I decided to hang back, put the car in cruise mode as we had over an hour left and picked up the spots I could without risking damage to the car. This worked out great as I got all the spots I was hoping for and working on getting a few more when our race ended.”
Although the final results from Homestead-Miami don’t show BimmerWorld in its characteristic position at the front of the field, Thomas, one of the team’s leaders, came away feeling positive about how the No. 82 car and the organization as a whole performed.
“Homestead did end with unexpected results for all three BimmerWorld entries, but that’s why this is ‘racing’ and not called ‘winning. We can’t win them all, even though our cars showed great potential this weekend. BimmerWorld is a team that knows how to fight past a bad weekend, and always make the cars faster and better then next time out. With the race at New Jersey coming right up next, we’ll keep our eyes fixed on delivering the results there. This team doesn’t give in, and now we’re all thinking about how to get all three cars on the steps of the podium.”
James Clay, team owner and driver of the No. 80 BimmerWorld BMW 328i, confirmed Thomas’s post-race analysis.
“The cars rolled out of the transporter dialed in. We made some little tweaks but this is the best they have been yet. The guys on the team have worked a lot on pit stops and generally functioning as a team unit and everything they did this weekend was organized, effective and very fast. I was proud of everyone this weekend and, while we are in a sport where the finishing order is the only way the world measures the result, I couldn’t have been happier for everything else short of that this weekend. We had a gut-punch of bad luck but the team’s foundation is more firm than ever and we will be right back to the front at the next round.”
Follow BimmerWorld’s progress as it prepares for Round 4 in New Jersey by visiting www.BimmerWorldRacing.com, and watch the Homestead race when it airs on May 12th at 12 p.m. ET on SPEED.