Webb & Sampson Slog to Victory in Wet NASA Pro Racing Enduro
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After taking second place in their last two races together, Scott Webb and Shawn Sampson finally ascended to the top step of the podium with a class victory at NASA Pro Racing's 3-hour endurance race at Buttonwillow Raceway on Saturday night. Conditions were aptly described as miserable throughout the race, with rain showers pelting the track at regular intervals. No two laps featured the same track surface conditions, but the team weathered the storm and finished 1st in class and 3rd overall after starting 28th (dead last).

The weekend began with an electrical problem for the number 60 RX-7 that surfaced within minutes of the first on-track session. The tachometer would suddenly drop to zero or behave erratically while exhaust gas temperatures would climb to uncomfortable levels. Diagnosis of the problem continued during the second session when it became apparent the condition only occurred in right-hand turns. The problem was finally discovered to be a tiny frayed area on the tach lead which would contact bare metal where it passes through a bracket on the engine. The ensuing short circuit would affect the trailing ignition coil (from which the lead acquired its signal), thereby sending unburned fuel into the exhaust and causing the elevated exhaust temperatures.

With great relief the team drove the car onto the pre-grid, but as they did, rain began to fall for the first time all weekend. Without rain tires and sun visible on the horizon, the team decided to keep a dry setup on the car in anticipation of a passing shower. Indeed, this particular shower did pass, only to be followed by many more throughout the night. Adding to the team's challenge, NASA's random starting order procedure found Webb starting 28th of 28 cars as the field rolled out onto a very wet Buttonwillow track.

Officials gave drivers two pace laps to acclimate to the conditions before the dropping the green flag at approximately 6:15 pm. By the end of lap one Webb had already passed a total of 10 cars, and by lap 14 Webb could see 23 cars in the mirror behind the Sampson Racing RX-7. Well, he would have seen them if he had any rearward visibility. As rain continued to fall, track conditions became exceedingly treacherous, with plenty of standing water and mud across much of the surface. Since we were on dry tires, at one point in the race I couldn't apply more than about 10% throttle in 3rd gear coming through the esses. Any more that than and the car would instantly spin or aquaplane off the track. It made for some exciting laps! quipped Webb.
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