Mike Poupart Motorsports

130 Veterans Boulevard, Suite E              Kenner, Louisiana  70062   USA
Phone: 504-472-0400                     E-mail: mpmotorworks@bellsouth.net

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2005 Grand Bayou Road Race Series - Event #2

February 19, 2005

By:  Patty Poupart

    The corral was full at the 2nd event of the 2005 Grand Bayou Race Series sponsored by Subaru Dealers of Louisiana.  Mike Poupart Motorsports presented five entries for competition in three classes.  In Super Production, John Centanni in the #96 Corvette, John Walter in the #98 Corvette, and Mike Poupart in the #44 Viper GTS made up three of the four class entries.  The final entry was John Crosby in his brand new factory-built GT-3 Porsche Cup Car.  Allan McDonnel drove his #44 Viper GTS in the Red Bracket; and Pete Alimia drove his #93 Corvette in the GTO class.  Pete has a bit of racing experience, but is still fairly new to the wheel-to-wheel action at No Problem Raceway.  His car, a 1987 Corvette, was prepared for racing by Mike Poupart Motorsports.  Pete does a good job of handling the upkeep and race preparation on his own and will always be considered part of our race group.

    We weren't short on drivers, but we were short on crew.  The drivers helped each other and the wives and family helped the drivers.  We were fortunate to have our sister and her hubby (Shawn & Donald Tusa), as well as our cousin and his family (Mark, Michelle & Marcus Cuccio) join us for the day's activities.  Donald and Patty took turns taking photos of the action on and off the track.

    The morning warm-up & practice session for Super Production seemed to go well except for Walter bringing the #98 Corvette off the track with no fuel pressure.   Easy problem with a quick solution.  The tires were changed on the Corvette for the qualifying session in order to have new rubber under the car.  McDonnel’s fastest lap during his practice session was about 1.25 seconds faster than what was allowed for the Red Bracket.  He "broke out" again during the qualifying session almost 2 seconds faster than the limit for the class with a new personal best lap time of 1:22.621.  He would be allowed to start the heat race, but would have to do so from the back of the field.  He was warned that if he broke out during the heat race or the feature race, he would be disqualified.

    The qualifying times for Super Production were very close with Walter on the pole with a qualifying time of 1:16.011; Poupart was second with a 1:17.126; Crosby was very close in third with a 1:17.141; and Centanni qualified fourth with a 1:18.544.  Unfortunately, Walter blew his motor during qualifying and the session was black-flagged after 7 laps.

    The MPM team took a short lunch break and hustled to ready the #44 Viper for McDonnel’s upcoming heat race.  McDonnel lined up at the rear of the field which consisted of 15 drivers in the Red, Yellow, Blue, and Green Brackets combined. Even though McDonnel drove a very conservative race, finishing 6th in his class and 6th overall, he managed to have the fastest lap time of the race with a 1:24.721, staying .721 seconds within the “break-out” limit.

    After a chance to breathe and look the cars over one last time before their feature race, the Super Production drivers went to the grid and lined up with a few changes.  First, Walter would be out of the running due to a blown motor in the #98 Liberto Cleaners Corvette.  This would move everyone up one grid spot.  Poupart was now in the pole position with the #44 Viper GTS with Crosby on the outside in his #3 GT-3 Porsche.  Centanni, in the #96 Corvette would now be behind Poupart on the inside of row two.  John Brannan, driving the #13 Camaro, moved into the top spot of the GTO class after breaking out of his bracket group during qualifying.  This put Brannan on the outside of Centanni and the field remained at 11 drivers.

    As the field formed up between turns 8 and 9 and the pace car sped off, Poupart brought the field down nice and slow through turn 9.  As the green flag waved, Poupart launched the Viper ahead of Crosby.  As the group rounded turn 10, Crosby kept the nose the Porsche at Poupart’s right tail light.  Centanni got the jump on Brannan and secured his third place position early.  Crosby pulled ahead of Poupart through turn 11 and they were side by side in turn 12.  Crosby launched ahead of Poupart and just got clear of the Viper as they approached turn 13.  Crosby got loose in turn 13 and Poupart kept the nose of the Viper in the right side door of the Porsche as Crosby corrected and they got back in the throttle heading through turn 14 and leading onto the front straight.

Patty Poupart Photo

For the next five laps, it was follow the leader with Poupart filling every mirror the Porsche had with “red Viper,” doing everything he could to force Crosby to make a mistake, and never letting the Porsche get more than a few feet away.  Poupart ran his personal best lap time of 1:16.514 on lap 4.  On lap 6, Crosby pulled off at turn 8 with what turned out to be a broken clutch.  Poupart retained the lead for the next 7 laps with Centanni only 45 seconds (½ lap) back in 2nd place at the checkered flag.  Pete Alimia finished 3rd in the GTO class for his best race finish to date.

    Poupart came off the track and pulled straight into the grid for a quick driver change to get Allan McDonnel in the car for the start of the feature race for the Red Bracket.  As McDonnel got settled and belted into the car, Poupart switched hats from race helmet to crew chief and gave McDonnel his “in the window” speech, giving him information about the car’s handling, track conditions and race strategy.  McDonnel started in the 6th grid position and immediately jumped into 5th at the start of the race.  By the end of the next lap, he was in 4th place and moved up to 2nd on lap 3.  McDonnel raced well moving through a pack of cars that stayed pretty close throughout the race, hanging just off the back bumper of Bill Mack’s #14 Subaru WRX to pace himself so that he would not run away and break out.  On the last lap, McDonnel made a pass on Mack for the win right before taking the checkered flag on the front straight.  McDonnel cut his pass very close with a win margin of only .146 seconds.  Allan set the fastest lap time of the race with a 1:25.481 in lap 2, keeping it within the Red Bracket limit. 

    Mike Poupart Motorsports celebrated a 1st and 2nd overall and 1st and 2nd class wins in Super Production by Mike Poupart in the #44 Viper GTS and John Centanni in the #96 Corvette, respectively, as well as a 1st overall and 1st in class win in the Red Bracket by Allan McDonnel in the #44 Viper GTS.

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