WATKINS GLEN, N.Y.-Freedom Autosport's Derek Whitis and Tom Long finished Tenth during Saturday's GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race at Watkins Glen. The finish advanced the No. 25 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 to second in the ST team championship and helped Mazda reach third in the manufacturer standings.
"Finishing in the top 10 at that track is practically a podium anywhere else," Whitis says. "The Freedom crew is doing amazing work, and Tom is the man behind that wheel."
"We had a lot of hope going into the weekend because all of our Mazda MX-5s were performing really well. We didn't get the finish we were looking for, but it's nice to come out of the weekend with an even better position in points for both the team and Mazda," says Long.
All three of the Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5s were fast throughout practice and qualifying. Sylvain Tremblay stepped in as a substitute driver for the No. 8 MX-5, which carried sponsorship from Sheetz convenience restaurants. Tremblay who co-drove with Mike Collins, took the Street Tuner pole with a qualifying time of 2:09.783.
Tremblay maintained second during most of his stint before pitting. Collins took over, making a splash in his GRAND-AM debut as he worked his way from the back of the pack to 16th at the checkered flag.
"It was a great debut: on the pole with Sylvain Tremblay!" says Collins. "We went for a different pit stop strategy than everyone else. It was a great strategy despite all the cautions, and we finished on the lead lap with no damage. I can't thank Sheetz enough for stepping up at this race."
"Seeing the Sheetz sponsored Freedom Autosport MX-5 sitting on the pole was a thrilling sight. No where else are you better prepared to win than up front, which is where Sheetz is most comfortable being," says Fred McConnell, Director of Brand Development for Sheetz. "We were very pleased with the performance of the Freedom team and Sheetz driver Mike Collins. Both driver and team throughout the weekend committed themselves to providing the best result possible and it was evident in our qualifying and race results."
Rhett O'Doski and Andrew Carbonell finished 25th in the No. 26 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 following an extra pitstop to attend to a misfire.