Pumpelly Focused on Defending Continental Tire Challenge Street Tuner Title
Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Spencer Pumpelly has been recognized for being one of the best professional GT racers in the United States for more than a decade, but – believe it or not – it wasn’t until the end of the 2016 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Street Tuner (ST) season last fall at Road Atlanta that he earned his first championship, co-driving the No. 17 RS1 Porsche Cayman to the title with Nick Galante.

“I’m coming up on my 20th season of professional racing, and not only was this my first pro championship, it was my first championship in anything going back to when I was racing the Formula Fords years and years ago,” Pumpelly said. “So, to finally get a championship, it means a lot and it validates a whole career of trying. Ultimately, to win a championship, you need a little bit of luck and you need some consistency and that’s just a piece that was missing.”

Pumpelly and Galante clearly benefited from some good luck. The No. 25 Freedom Autosport Mazda being shared by Chad McCumbee and Stevan McAleer appeared headed to the championship before a late-race mechanical issue removed them from contention.

Fast-forwarding to 2017, Pumpelly’s focus in IMSA competition is defending the Continental Tire ST title, though he called strategy for Alegra Motorsports’ Rolex 24-winning effort and competed with the team in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. He and Galante are off to a strong start in ST, with a third-place result in January’s four-hour season opener in Daytona and a victory in the most recent round at Sebring in March.

They’re leading the ST standings heading into Friday’s two-hour Circuit of The Americas 120 by two points, 65-63, over No. 73 MINI co-drivers Mat Pombo and Derek Jones. One point behind in third place are No. 56 Porsche Cayman co-drivers Jeff Mosing and Eric Foss, who won last year’s ST race at COTA.

Foss is one of many drivers in the series with whom Pumpelly has had fantastic on-track battles over the past two seasons.

“I’ve had great races with Eric Foss, who’s just one of the top drivers in the U.S., especially in those cars,” Pumpelly said. “The guys at the Mazda team, Andrew Carbonell and Stevan McAleer, we’ve had some good battles over the years.

“I think you’re going to see Connor Bloum, my teammate, be one of the guys to challenge for wins this year. He’s coming on really strong. Then you’ve got some other drivers, like Owen (Trinkler) and Sarah (Cattaneo) in the Nissan, that are doing really well. We’ve just got a lot of guys that can run those cars hard and clean and compete for wins.”

Having such tough competition in each race gives Pumpelly an appreciation for the Continental Tire Challenge and the ST class, in particular.

“ST is probably the most fun I have racing anywhere,” Pumpelly said. “The depth of the field is really strong. The cars slide around a lot and they don’t have any aerodynamic influences, so you don’t get any performance decrease when you’re behind other cars, which is the case in many, many other series at the moment.

“The guys that I’m out there racing with, at least the guys towards the front, I can trust most of them to run two wide and leave everyone racing room. Because I don’t like to just crash into them and give them room and run two-wide, we end up running two-wide for sometimes laps on end. I really enjoy it.”