WRPMotorsports driver Willie Phee continues his podium streak with 5 podiums in 5 races at the SCCA sanctioned Barber Motorsports Park Double Rational. WRPMotorsports driver Willie Phee would finish 1st in both STL races, 2nd in both SARRC races and finish out the 2012 Pro-IT season with a 2nd place finish. In addition Phee would garner two pole positions over the weekend with both coming in the SARRC regional races. “What a fantastic weekend” said Phee, “I wasn’t sure about trying to run five races over the weekend but it worked out and I couldn’t be happier with five podium finishes”. It was an especially challenging weekend due to the intermittent rain in qualifying and the Saturday STL race. When the weather was dry, Phee would qualify no worse than fourth for any of his races. Qualifying would be held over three days with an afternoon session on Friday and two morning sessions on Saturday and Sunday. The morning sessions would prove to be the quicker sessions since the weather and track were cooler. Phee would qualify on pole and eighth overall for the Saturday afternoon SARRC race. In SARRC race one Phee would be starting outside row four. The first start was waived off, but on the second start Phee would hold on to lead for the first eight laps until lapped traffic would hold up Phee and allow the second place car to catch up. “I had a decent lead, but once I got into lapped cars it really held me up. This track only has a few places to try and make a pass, so catching slower traffic in certain sections really help me up”. Phee would lose the top spot on lap eight but continued to stay within striking distance of the leader. Phee would hold off a late race charge from his team-mate and finish second in class and 10th overall.Qualifying for the afternoon STL race was held in overcast conditions and Phee would qualify fourth in class and 14th overall. STL race one would be a rain race as the skies opened up just minutes before the cars were sent to the grid. At the start Phee would settle into third spot and slowly up his pace to eventually move into the top spot as the rain subsided.“When the race started it was raining heavily, but it let up about half way into the race and I started to increase my pace” said Phee. “A couple of the front running cars spun off and it allowed me to take the lead”. Phee would end up 1st in class and ninth overall at the checkers.Pro-IT qualifying was held Saturday morning and Phee would qualify second in class and fourth overall. The Pro-IT race would be on Sunday at 10:30 and would be held in sunny conditions. Phee would start from the back of the grid due to the short turn around from STL qualifying that was just prior to the Pro-IT race. “I knew it was going to be close with qualifying and the race so close together, but the field was small so I didn’t give up much track position”. The first five laps were crazy as the multi-class pack was three and four wide in several spots on the track. With three different classes racing each other and lap times within a half second of each other the racing was extremely tight and aggressive for the first few laps. “I moved up to second in class and had a great seat watching the top four cars race each other”, said Phee. “With all of the back and forth passing it allowed me to stay in touch with the leading BMW”. “After six laps the field sorted itself out and I managed to hang onto second and finish just a few seconds behind the leader”. At the finish Phee would end up second in class and fifth overall. Qualifying for SARRC race two was Sunday morning and Phee would again put the OPM Autosports Acura Integra on the pole for the second time this weekend with a one second gap on the second place Nissan. SARRC race two was held just after lunch and Phee would start on the inside of row five. At the flag Phee would move to the inside in turn one but drifted wide in turn two allowing a couple of cars to get by but by the end of lap one Phee would have a four second lead and would continue to pull away until five laps to go. “In the turn five horseshoe two of the ITS cars got together and spun out wide, I saw an opening on the inside and dove for it and ended up with a big gap on the rest of the field. At the half way point I had a big enough gap that I was just trying to maintain a pace to the finish. Unfortunately with about five laps to go the car had a fuel pick-up problem. It started cutting out in a few of the right hand turns. I figured I would just short shift the car and keep the revs down in order to save fuel. But it eventually got so bad I wasn’t sure I would make it to the finish. With one lap to go I had to give up the lead and try to nurse the car to the finish”. Phee would end up second in a race he was clearly dominating.“It was disappointing to give away a clear victory but sometimes mechanical problems prevent you from claiming the victory” said Phee.Qualifying for STL race two would also be Sunday morning and Phee would qualify third in class and 14th overall. For STL race two Phee would start outside row seven. At the start Phee would get a good jump but get pushed out wide in turn one. By the end on lap one Phee had dropped back 4 positions and was in fourth place in class. “I knew I had 18 laps to try and close the gap so I just tried to be consistent with my lap times and not lose sight of the leaders” said Phee. Phee would run consistent lap times and slowly close in on the leading duo as they battled for first place. On lap 10 Phee would be on the bumper of the second place car and make a double pass for the lead in the turn five horseshoe. “I had a run and I could see both of them battling for the lead. I figured I would just drive down the inside and try to get a least one pass made, but I ended up getting both of them”. Phee would go on to an eight second gap by the end of the 19 lap race finishing first in class and 11th overall. “It was a fantastic weekend, to compete in five races and get five podiums was amazing. The OPM crew did their usual great job of keeping the right tires on the car, ice in the cool box and the car prepped and ready to go. I don’t think we changed the settings all weekend which is a testament on how well Tom Fowler sets up the car. I can’t thank him enough” said Phee.The next race is the American Road Race of Champions scheduled for November 2-4, 2012 at Road Atlanta Raceway in Braselton, Georgia.
September 1–2, 2012 – Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Alabama
May 19-20, 2012 – Road Atlanta Raceway, Braselton, Georgia
WRPMotorsports driver Willie Phee continues his podium streak with a Win, 2nd and 3rd place finishes at the SCCA Regional/National at Road Atlanta Raceway.WRPMotorsports driver Willie Phee finished 1st in the SARRC Regional race, 2ndin the STL National race and 3rd in round 3 of the Pro-IT Championship held at Road Atlanta Raceway.Three races in one day was especially challenging for WRPMotorsports driver Willie Phee. Qualifying would take place on Saturday with 2 sessions for the SARRC race and two sessions for the National race. “With two sessions for each race I knew the morning sessions would be faster so I tried to put in some fast laps early and hopefully have a good starting position said Phee”. Phee would indeed put in two fast laps and would qualify on the overall pole for the SARRC race and was initially on pole for the national race. “I figured the times would hold up so I decided not to run the afternoon sessions unfortunately I ended up second in the National race by only 4 tenths of a second”. Qualifying for the Pro-IT race would take place early Sunday morning just before the SARRC race. “With only one session and the fact that my first race was immediately after the qualifier ended I knew I had a just a few laps to get a flyer in”. Phee would end up qualifying 2nd in class just a tenth off pole. “It was great to have 3 strong qualifying sessions, and get my first pole was especially rewarding” said Phee. Unfortunately due to the quick turnaround from qualifying to the first race Phee ended up late to the grid and had to start from pit lane. “That was a real disappointment, to get my first pole and then not get to start at the front of the pack made me angry”.Phee would turn that anger into an impressive drive from last place to 1st in class and second overall by the end of the 18 lap race. “I started the car form pit lane on tires that hadn’t been run all weekend so it took a couple of laps for the tires to come up to temp. Once I felt like the car would stay underneath me I just put my head down and started charging toward the front”. Phee would go from 15th at the start and move into the ITA lead by lap 3 and eventually would finish 8th overall by the end of the race. The STL National race would be in mid afternoon and Phee would line up 2nd in class and 8th overall. Phee would start second and maintain second place until lap 11. “As I was braking at the end of the back straight into turn 10A the car locked up and started sliding towards the gravel trap. Luckily I was able to get the car stopped just before going into the gravel and maintain my position” said Phee.It turned out one of the front running cars lost an engine and laid oil down in the racing line. A full course caution was out for 2 laps while the track was cleaned up. “Unfortunately at the re-start I didn’t have radio communications and was late for the green. The third place car got by me going into turn seven but I managed to get back by before the end of the lap. I slowly eased away and maintained second position to the finish” said Phee.The last race of the day would be Round 3 of the Pro-IT Championship Phee would start 2nd in class and 7th overall. “I held on to second for a few laps until a BMW got by on the run to turn six. I stayed a few seconds back but he was slowly inching away” said Phee. By the end of the race Phee was closing in on the 6th place overall car but would run out of time and ended up 3rd in class and 7th overall.“The OPM crew did a great job of making changes to the car as the temperatures went up during the day. They kept improving the cars handling and made the weekend much easier for me” said Phee.The next race is scheduled for July 14-15, 2012 back at Road Atlanta Raceway in Braselton, GA.
July 14-15, 2012 – Road Atlanta Raceway, Braselton, Georgia
The 2012 Podium streak continues for WRPMotorsports driver Willie Phee with a Win and a trio of 2nd place finishes at the SCCA Double Regional at Road Atlanta Raceway.Road Atlanta was the site of a double SARRC and Pro-IT weekend in which WRPMotorsports driver Willie Phee would finish on the podium in all four races he entered. In addition he would qualify in pole position in three of the four races as well. “The OPM crew did a fantastic job of setting up the car” said Phee. “We didn’t change a thing on the car all weekend other than changing out the tires between sessions. This was one of the best weekends I’ve ever had in the car and I have to thanks Tom and Ryan at OPM for having the car so hooked up”.Saturday qualifying for round 2 of the SARRC race was at 8:00am on Saturday. Phee was in the top three in qualifying for most of the 20 minute session and then set the pole time on the last lap of the session. Not only was Phee’s time fast enough for pole in class he was also P-2 overall ahead of several faster ITS and ITR cars. “I was mid pack in qualifying for the first few laps and started to catch traffic. I decided to go into the pits and wait for some clear track. Luckily it worked out and I set the fast lap on the last lap of the session” said Phee.Qualifying for round four of the Pro-IT series was up next and Phee would qualify second in class and fifth overall for the 27 lap race at the end of the day.Round 2 of the SARRC race got under-way right after lunch with Phee on the outside of row one. Phee would hold on to second overall until the back straight when the faster ITS cars would get by. Phee would hold on to first in class for the next three laps until a slight bobble in turn seven allowed the second place car through at the end of the back straight. Phee would continue pressuring the leader and actually got along side in turns 10 and 11 with three laps to go.“That was a test to see if I could get by at the end. If it was the last lap I would have kept my foot in it and ran through turn 12 to the checkers but I figured I could get a run on the last lap and get by in turn 10. I knew if I could stay close on the last lap I had a chance to make the pass. Unfortunately I got help up by a lapped car in turn three and the leader was able to get a one second gap that I couldn’t close by the finish” said Phee. “It would have been nice to come out on top, but I had a great race with the Nissan for the entire race”.Round 4 of the Pro-IT race was the last race of the day and Phee would start on the third row, second in class and fifth overall. At the start Phee would drop back to seventh after a slight bobble in turn one but would maintain 2nd in class for the rest of the race. Phee would slowly work up to 4th in class by the end of the race. “The race was uneventful but I did manage to keep the leader in sight for the entire race, I just couldn’t make up any time during the race”.Sunday would be a repeat schedule of Saturday with round three of the SARRC race first up and round 5 of the Pro-IT race shortly thereafter. Phee would again have two strong qualifying sessions and would end up in pole position for both of the afternoon races. “I have to thank the OPM crew for another fantastic job of setting up the car” said Phee.At the start of the SARRC race Phee would open up a small gap over the second place car and maintain first position until lap seven when a slower car slowed his pace and he would give up the lead in turn 10. Phee would follow for a couple of laps and re-take the lead and hold on for the win. “I had a great race with my team-mate Mike in the other Integra. When he got by I figured I would just follow him for a few laps and see where I could make a pass. I could see we were catching some slower traffic and I decided I’d rather be in front so I made the pass in turn 10 with five laps to go and held to lead to the finish”.Round 5 of the Pro-IT race had Phee on the inside of row two and he would hold on to third overall for the first three laps until he was passed exiting turn seven. Phee would hold on to second in class for the remainder of the race. “I was fighting the BMW as hard as I could because I knew once he got close enough on the back straight he would blow by me. I was fun for a few laps and then once he got by that was it. I settled into a pace and slow pulled a gap on the third place car and held on to second for the rest of the race” said Phee.“It was a great weekend with four podiums and three poles’, and the car was super consistent all weekend” said Phee.The next race is scheduled for September 1-2, 2012 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, AL.
March 16-17, 2012 – Road Atlanta Raceway, Braselton, Georgia
Three races three podiums for WRPMotorsports Driver Willie Phee at the SCCA National at Road Atlanta Raceway.WRPMotorsports driver Willie Phee finished 3rd in the Saturday STL National race 2nd in the Sunday STL National race and 3rd in round 2 of the Pro-IT Championship held at Road Atlanta Raceway.Three races held over two days in mixed conditions made it a very challenging weekend. Qualifying for the first STL National race one would be in dry conditions and Phee would qualify 4th in the STL class just .2 behind the 3rd place qualifier.Next on the days schedule would be qualifying for round 2 of the Pro-IT Championship and Phee would qualify 3rd in class. The first race Saturday morning would be in wet conditions for the 18 lap National race. “We were the second race of the day but the track was still wet. We made the decision to go out on slicks and wait for the track conditions to improve during the race” said Phee.At the start Phee would drop back due to the slick conditions while the cars on wet tires would move up. The race would only run for two laps when a full course caution would come out and bunch up the field. That allowed the track to day up a bit more but still not enough to take advantage of the dry tires. On the restart Phee would move up to 5th and was closing in on the leaders when the 3rd place car spun off in turn 1 and the 4th place car nearly followed him into the gravel trap. That would move Phee up to 3rd when the second full course caution came out. On the restart with 4 laps to go two cars spun in turn 10 causing Phee to drop back one position to 4th. “I thought I was safe in third, but when the two cars got together I had to check up and the 4th place car was by me. Luckily the leader ended up going off in turn one on the last lap and I moved into 3rd place at the finish” said Phee. The second race Saturday afternoon would be Round 2 of the Pro-IT Championship and would be held in dry conditions. Phee would start outside row 10 for the 45 minute race. At the start Phee would maintain his 3rd position and run consistent lap times until lap 19 of the 25 lap race. “I had a fuel problem with 7 laps to go. The car was leaking fuel out of the filler neck and I wasn’t sure I would have enough fuel to finish the race. I radioed the crew and they said to stay out and try to conserve fuel. I started short shifting and coasting where I could to try and make it to the finish. My lap times were about 4 seconds slower for those last few laps. Luckily I had a big enough gap on the 4th place car to end up 3rd at the finish”. “I was below a quarter tank with 7 laps to go and I didn’t think the car would make it to the finish but somehow I made it to the end” said Phee.Sunday would be a cool clear day and the second round of qualifying for the Sunday STL National race. Phee would improve from 4th in the first qualifying session to 3rd in round two and would start in row 7 for the Sunday afternoon race.At the start of the National race Phee would be in a good position on the inside for turn one. Phee would close in on the top two runners until lap 3 when the leading SSB Mustang got between Phee and the STL leaders. “Luckily he realized I was battling with the two cars just in front of him and he pointed me by going into turn 3. I closed in on the second place car and got by on the front straight on lap 5 and maintained 2ndfor the rest of the race” said Phee. Phee would run consistent laps for the rest of the race and finish just 5 seconds off the lead at the finish.“Except for the fuel leaking problems I had in the qualifying session and the Pro-IT race it was a good weekend. The car was very consistent all weekend and in the second National race the crew actually put an older set of tires on the car and it still ran consistent 46’s every lap except for two”.“As usual the OPM crew did a great job of keeping the car consistent and solving the problems we had over the weekend” said Phee.The next race is scheduled for May 19-20, 2012 at Road Atlanta Raceway in Braselton, GA.