Penske Racing Finishes 15th at Barber Motorsports Park

July 20, 2009

LEEDS, Ala. (July 19, 2009) – Timo Bernhard drove the No. 12 Verizon Wireless Porsche Riley to a 15th place finish in Sunday’s Porsche 250 Presented by Legacy Credit Union at Barber Motorsports Park. Bernhard and Penske Racing co-driver Romain Dumas made their way through several mishaps over the course the 250-mile event on the 16-turn road circuit and will now turn their attention to a full day of testing on Monday.

Penske Racing’s troubles at the challenging course near Birmingham began during practice late Friday afternoon and carried over into Sunday’s 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 event.

On Friday, Dumas went off course at turn 12. When he climbed from the damaged No. 12 car, Dumas was limping, favoring his left ankle. After a short visit to the Care Center, Dumas was released with surface cuts and heavy bruising above his left ankle.

Unfortunately, the Verizon Wireless Porsche required a little more time for repairs. The Penske Racing crew pulled an all-nighter Friday, working until 3:00 a.m. CT, to complete repairs on the car for the Saturday morning practice and afternoon qualifying sessions. 

Dumas climbed behind the wheel Saturday morning for practice. He also qualified the No. 12 Verizon Wireless entry, securing the seventh starting position.

The Frenchman rolled off the grid Sunday ready to put the Friday incident behind him, but shortly after taking the green flag, Dumas had a not-so-subtle reminder of Friday’s ride.

“At the first corner [another car] moved over into my line and I had to move over to avoid hitting him,” said Dumas. “I dropped a wheel off the track and it was almost like Friday again – the front of the car, it just exploded.”

Dumas brought the Verizon Wireless Porsche Riley down pit road for repairs. The crew originally intended to replace the nose only, but realized the left corner of the splitter was also missing. The splitter was replaced and then the new nose was installed on the Penske Racing entry.

The No. 12 machine returned to the track three laps behind the leaders but it was back the pits a few laps later when Dumas complained of a vibration in the car. The front tires were inspected and the cause of the vibration was sourced – a wheel was bent from the impact in turn 1.

Dumas brought the car down pit road on lap 36 for fresh tires, fuel and a driver change. Bernhard took control of the Verizon Wireless Porsche Riley and fought to the finish, eventually securing a 15th-place result for the team.

Bernhard and Dumas were in agreement after the race – this is one event they were ready to put behind them.

"This was a weekend to forget," said Bernhard, "The crew worked very hard to fix the car [after Friday’s incident], but we could not get a good result to repay them for their hard work. We scored points and hung in there and finished the race, so that is all good.”

Verizon Wireless Porsche Riley and fought to the finish, eventually securing a 15th-place result for the team.

Following the Porsche 250 Presented by Legacy Credit Union, Bernhard and Dumas are fifth in points, 33-points behind first place.

After testing on Monday, the Verizon Wireless team will return to action in the Crown Royal 200 at The Glen, August 6-7 at Watkins Glen International.