WATKINS GLEN, NY (29 June 2019) – Buoyed by an impressive opening stint by Frank DePew, Rebel Rock Racing enjoyed its strongest race of the 2019 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season, placing fifth in Saturday’s Tioga Downs Casino Resort 240 at Watkins Glen International.
Frank DePew, Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell co-drove the No. 71 Urban Grid Solar/MVP Capital Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R in the four-hour event, with the team recovering from a pair of pit lane penalties and a late-race downpour.
For its efforts, Rebel Rock Racing was voted the Forgeline Wheels “Spirit of the Race” Award by fans following the event on IMSA Radio.
Starting 23rd, DePew, in his first race at the renowned track, turned the car over to Andrew Davis after 22 laps in 21stplace remaining on the lead lap, despite an unplanned pit stop on Lap 11 to take on fuel and check for suspension damage after running over debris from an accident in the “boot” between turns 7 and 8, while remaining on the lead lap during the opening 54 minutes of the four-hour race.
“I feel great about the weekend, after all we’ve been through this season,” DePew said. “The team has really gelled together, and they’re doing a great job. We had a couple mistakes today. One of them was me for wheel spin on the jacks that led to a penalty that Andrew (Davis) had to serve when he got in. Later he hit a tire that another team left in the middle of pit road that led to another penalty. With a fifth-place finish, if we hadn’t made those mistakes, I think we would have had a podium, for sure. It’s been really, really fun.”
Despite falling down the order to 19th after serving the two penalties, Davis managed to fight back to regain fifth when he turned the Camaro over to Liddell with 70 minutes remaining.
“It was a grueling race,” Davis said. “I drove the middle stint, and I worked so hard to pass cars, and then I had to pass the same cars again. At this level, it’s great drivers and great teams, and nobody gives it up easy. I’m very pleased with the progress the team has made since I last drove with them at Daytona. I’m honored for the opportunity to join the team again.”
Entering the race in 10th following the driver change, Liddell worked his way through the field to take the lead when a sudden downpour struck with 40 minutes to go, leading to a full-course caution. With not enough fuel to make the end of the race, Liddell pitted under the caution, rejoining the event in fifth with 16 minutes remaining. The team opted to stay on the slick tires as the rain began to ease off, and when the race resumed Liddell fell back to 11th as he got passed by other cars which had switched to rain tires. However, the track dried dramatically in the final minutes, with Liddell charging to gain six positions over the final two laps.
“It was an eventful race for sure but overall I’m really happy with the result,” said Liddell. “It is a little bit frustrating, we could have maybe sneaked on the podium there. But hats off to Frank, he had a great opening stint and managed through a couple of tricky restarts, he did exactly what we needed him to do.”
The start of the race was delayed by one hour due to lightning in the Watkins Glen area. The track was dry for the start, and conditions remained favorable throughout the event until the late-race downpour.
“I enjoyed my stint, really, with a lot of battling going on so it was a lot of fun,” said Liddell. “We were on slicks for the last restart, and I was right in the melee. Initially, I was on the wrong tires for the conditions but it dried out and we were able to pick up some spots so I was happy with how the race ended. We did a lot of learning this weekend and I can’t say enough about the job the team has done, and now we are ready to move forward into the second half of the year.”
Rebel Rock Racing has only one week until the next event on the Michelin Pilot Challenge, a two-hour race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Saturday, July 6.