Webb & Sampson Rein In 2nd Place Despite Encountering Prancing Horse
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Driving the number 60 Sampson Racing Communications Mazda RX-7, Scott Webb and Shawn Sampson survived 3-hours of tough competition to finish 2nd in the EO class and 4th overall at NASA's Western Endurance Racing Championship at Buttonwillow Raceway Park on Saturday night. After thunderstorms moved southeast overnight, sunny skies and mild temperatures greeted racers Saturday morning for the initial on-track testing and qualifying sessions. Of course with NASA's random starting order policy, qualifying times are merely a gauge of potential; but the starting order gods were kind to the SRC team, as they started the race on the outside of the front row next to the EO-class Honda Civic Si of Andy Hope.

At the drop of the green flag the EO-class Honda Civic Si of Taz Harvey managed to out-power the RX-7 down the front straight, slipping into 2nd place heading into turn one. A quick spin by Webb exiting the Cotton Corners complex towards the end of lap one found the SRC team in 7th as the cars crossed start/finish for the second time. The intense action didn't stop there for Webb, as the Ferrari 360 Modena of Johnny Pag spun while diving inside into turn one on lap two, slamming into the side of the SRC RX-7 and dropping Webb even further down the order. Webb made his way into 10th place overall by the end of the lap, and began clawing his way back through the field. This wasn't exactly how I had planned to start the race, quipped Webb, but Shawn got on the radio told me not to worry about it, and that helped me maintain focus and get on the with the job at hand. Working his way through traffic as darkness enveloped the circuit, Webb managed to work his way up to 1st in class and 2nd overall behind the ES-class Team Stuttgart Porsche 911 by the time the team called him in for a pit stop and driver change on lap 45, about 1hr:50min into the three hour race.

After a well orchestrated pit stop, Shawn Sampson's talent and experience behind the wheel paid great dividends as soon as he exited pit lane, as he posted ever-faster lap times in his successful quest to improve track position. About 20 minutes into his stint behind the wheel, however, Sampson radioed the crew that he was suffering from fumes inhalation and wanted to pit for fuel and to repair to the fresh-air hose that had been dislodged in the contact with the Ferrari earlier in the race. While the crew commenced refueling Webb climbed into the car and finished reattaching the air hose just as the last drops of fuel entered the tank. Sampson rejoined the track in 4th place overall (2nd in class) and fought his way back up into 3rd before encountering oil from a blown engine in turn one on lap 68, briefly leaving the paved racing surface. This dropped the SRC RX-7 only one position in the overall standings as Sampson crossed the finish line on lap 80 with a 2nd place position in class (4th overall), only seven seconds ahead of the NN Racing EO-class Honda Civic of Taz Harvey and Roger Foo, and one lap behind the EO-class-winning Civic Si of Andy Hope.
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