Ford Mustangs Clinch Road Racing Championships in North America and Europe
Ford Mustang fans around the world celebrated as America's original pony car wrapped up racing championships on two different continents. Joe Foster and Scott Maxwell won the Grand-Am KONI Challenge series championship in North America and Eric de Doncker repeated as the GT4 European Cup champion in Europe.
Foster and Maxwell capped a terrific season with a fifth-place finish in the KONI season finale in Alton, Va. During the season, the duo combined for two wins, five top-fives and eight top-10s on their way to capturing the drivers' and team championship. They become the second Mustang FR500C drivers to win a KONI championship, with the first coming in 2005.
"Winning the championship was an amazing thing," said Foster. "It's something Hyper Sport hasn't done before, and team owner Patrick Dempsey and Rick Skelton, the partners in the team haven't either. I know Patrick, on the set of Grey's Anatomy, was watching online all day. Personally, it's the culmination of a lot of hard work by about 100 people sharing in this."
The race also moved Ford into first place in the manufacturer standings after three Mustangs finished in the top five spots. Mike Canney, Hugh Plumb and Matt Plumb, drivers of the No. 60 Mustang FR500C, won the race and finished the season tied for sixth in the team standings. Their Rehagen Racing teammates, Dean Martin, Jack Roush Jr. and Ryan Phinny, finished in second place, moving up to fifth place in the standings.
"This is my first win in this series, so it's really exciting, especially to do it like we did today," said Canney. "Our crew chief Quinn Conda had a great set-up on the Mustang and the car handled really well during my stint. I'm happy to get a 1-2 finish for Rehagen Racing. It's an exciting way to finish this season off and it's also a great way to get things going for next year."
Bret Seafuse and James Gue, drivers of the No. 37 Mustang FR500C, entered the race just one point behind Foster and Maxwell, and fought the entire race for a chance at the championship. Right when it looked like they might be able to put together a strong run to catch Foster and Maxwell, they lost a cylinder near the end of the race and eventually finished 10th, clinching second place in the standings.
Over in Europe, Eric de Doncker won his second consecutive GT4 European Cup championship after placing third in the first two races of the weekend and fourth in the final race of the weekend in his No. 1 Mustang FR500GT4. De Doncker tallied four wins on the season and finished on the podium in 14 of 17 events.
"This season has been very good, with tough competition, but we've achieved our goal once more," said de Doncker. "I have to thank my team for all the hard work they did to get us here again. We've had an excellent car that was built to win.
"I'm happy for the team and for Ford as well."
The NASCAR Sprint Cup series was in Talladega, Ala., where David Ragan led all Ford drivers across the line with a third-place finish in his No. 6 Fusion. Ragan remains 13th in the standings, the top spot outside of the Chase.
The three Ford drivers in the Chase for the Sprint Cup got caught up in one of Talladega's infamous "Big Ones." Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth were drafting to the front of the pack with 14 laps to go. Edwards was helping to push Biffle ahead, but the plan backfired when Biffle got loose and took out Edwards, Kenseth and several other drivers in the Chase in a multi-car wreck. The wreck also took out fellow Ford driver Travis Kvapil, who earlier in the weekend became the sixth Yates Racing driver to start at Talladega from the pole.
Though they all lost points to leader Jimmie Johnson, all three Ford drivers were able to maintain their positions in the standings. Edwards remains second, 72 points behind Johnson, while Biffle remains third, 77 points out of the lead. Kenseth remains in ninth place.
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, which was also in Talladega, saw rookie-of-the-year candidate Colin Braun grab his seventh top-10 finish of the season after finishing in fourth place. Braun moved up one spot in the standings to 13th place.
Next weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series will head to Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C., while the NHRA will be in Richmond, Va