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Performance Autosport Update: Cobetto Takes The Win at VIR on R40 Racing Wheels

February 22nd, 2012

The off season for the Performance Autosport crew was a very busy one. Making more contacts, picking up new sponsors, and creating new relationships with companies that wanted to help us make 2012 another successful season. Last year we were extremely happy to fly the Speedlab Saleen flag for our friends up in Detroit. They helped us step by step, race by race to deliver a winning car, a championship for our region, and a great battle for the National Championship ending in a very respectable 2nd place for our debut season. We couldn’t of been more pleased with our results and the fact that we could put Saleen back in the winner’s circle so many times.

Performance Autosport is determined that 2012 will be continue with more wins, crushing records, and going to Nationals with more momentum than ever. With this event being the last we’d be running our Mustang as a Saleen, we wanted to make sure we went out with a good weekend for the Speedlab crew. Also our good friend Mark Evans from one of our new sponsors for 2012, Moss Muscle, was at the track checking out the team and everything that goes down to win races. Thanks for coming and hanging out, Mark!

There really wasn’t a lot done to the car during the winter. The only thing that was “changed” on the car was a part of the engine harness. We removed, boxed up, and sent our camshaft sensors/harness to the same company that makes them for Ford Racing after speaking to many of their engineers at SEMA, PRI, and over countless emails and phone conversations trying to nail down our mysterious power loss situation. The brains at Ford Racing all summized that it must be a break in connection between the plug and sensor on one or all camshaft position sensors. The Boss 302S/R and Cobra Jet cars made by Ford Racing have all those sensors hardwired so that vibration/heat/anything wouldn’t risk a break in connection of these very important sensors. Any loss of communication in these sensors would mean the timing of that camshaft would stop advancing until the key is cycled. It was highly to our advantage to have a custom harness made for us to ensure that this is not our problem. It wasn’t a guaranteed fix for our problem, but a very good possibility.

Other than that harness all we pretty much did was dust the car off, change fluids, swap in new brake pads, and made a seat adjustment to get Chris a little more comfortable in the car. Thats it. We took Hoosiers off and replaced them with Toyo RA-1′s as American Iron went back to the Toyo’s as their spec tire…no more running R6s. Threw the car on the dyno to verify that its still legal and after 3 pulls it was ready to be put on the trailer and taken to the track.

We arrived at VIR Friday morning ready for its first few laps to make sure everything felt ok to Cobetto. First session out was bedding brakes, second session would be scuffing in new RA-1s. No real hot laps, but everything felt ok to Chris so no changes were made.

Saturday’s weather was perfect. Completely sunny, a little cool, but perfect for going fast. And fast is what we like. Practice went well, Chris felt comfortable with the car, everything was working as it should. Qualifying went even better. Even on heavily heat-cycled RA-1s from the beginning of last year Cobetto managed to pull off a 2:05.907 which is second fastest lap we’ve ever turned in that car, the fastest being a 2:05.8xx on Hoosiers last year. That time placed us on the pole for Saturday’s race and had us just making a slight pressure changed before the race to adjust for the weather.

During this race Cobetto knocked off a 2:05.834 which beat our previously set track record on Hoosiers! He was rolling! We started 1st, finished 1st, set a new track record. Can’t ask for more now can ya?

Sunday’s race was going to be a little different as the weather was looking bad and getting worse. Before the race started it was raining, then sleeting, then snowing, then back to rain. No matter what it was freezing…literally. We set the car to our rain setup and mounted up a brand new set of full tread RA-1s. NASA decided to bump the race to an earlier time so our race started at 10:10am which left no time for a warm up or qualifying. Our starting position was the same as Saturday, 1st, so it was looking like all we needed to do was stay out front and stay on track and we should be able to have a clean race. But, as you will see there was some contact with another American Iron car going into Turn 1 on lap 2. Steven Kent locked up under braking and slid into the back of us, forcing both cars to the grass. Thankfully Cobetto gathered the car back up, got back on track, and we never lost position. We ended up winning Sunday’s race as well, but obviously it was a much slower pace due to the slick track conditions.

Since our power loss problem only showed its head during the longer races it was never truly tested during the weekend since the track conditions wouldn’t allow for driving at 10/10ths for 40mins which is what we truly need to do. Hopefully in March we’ll have sunny skies and be able to make sure that this power issue has been dealt with.

Minus the contact we had a very successful weekend. Two wins and a new track record. Looking forward to March now as the car will have it’s new look with full 2012 livery displaying all our new sponsors as well as some new suspension pieces to get the car even more glued to the track this season.

Again, special thanks for Speedlab Saleen for a great season last year and this past weekend. And a big thank you to our current sponsors for 2012, Moss Muscle, HRE Performance Wheels, Baer Brakes, Hawk Performance Pads, Ford Racing, VBD Graphics, OG Racing, and Grassroots Motorsports! Also thanks to Jon Felton for the video for Saturday’s race and Phillip Nugent for all the photography from this event.

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