Posted (03/08/2011) -
HOMESTEAD, Fla.—The No. 198 RSR Motorsports MINI Cooper S started from the back of the field during Saturday’s GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but Sarah Cattaneo and Owen Trinkler gave the team a reason to celebrate after finishing third in the Street Tuner class.
A motor swap on the morning of race day meant the No. 198 MINI—sponsored by Cruise America, Thor Motor Coach and US LED—had to go to the back of the starting grid. Cattaneo, who had the ST pole there in 2010, put the MINI’s prowess in the infield to good use: she was in the top 15 by the end of her stint.
Trinkler drove the car to the checkered flag. He was in sixth when a late-race caution closed up the field. He went from sixth to third in the final eight minutes of the race to give RSR Motorsports a repeat of their podium finish at Homestead last year.
“We hadn’t even thought a podium finish was in the cards,” says Cattaneo, who also carries sponsorship from Global Jet. “We were just hoping for a top-ten finish, but everything was spot-on and the car felt amazing. The infield was our greatest strength and I got a lot, if not all, of my passing done there.”
“There were a lot of faster cars out there, but we worked the strategy right and things played into our favor,” says Trinkler. “The guys are making the right calls in the pits and we wound up having one of the best cars at the end of the race. We’ve got the best car under braking and the best-handling car at the end of the race, even though we don’t have the straight-line speed.”
Trinkler also drove in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series race earlier in the day. He drove for two hours in the No. 63 Team Spencer Motorsports Mazda RX-8, finishing 13th in GT, before driving the No. 198 MINI for nearly two hours.
Ron Farmer and Jason Hart finished 16th in the No. 196 RSR Motorsports US LED MINI Cooper S. The duo ran a consistent race, but the caution periods came at disadvantageous times for them.
RSR Motorsports team owner Randy Smalley made his return to the track this weekend. He missed the season opener at Daytona because he was recovering from surgery to treat bladder cancer. In addition to his team owner duties, Smalley also teamed up with VJ Mirzayan in the No. 195 RSR Motorsports MINI Cooper S.
“It was icing on the cake of my recovery to get back in the car, and I thought I did a pretty good job in qualifying considering it was my first time back in the car since my surgery, and my first time on that track in two years. I knew it would be a short stint because we didn’t want to push it,” says Smalley, who pitted at the first caution to give the car to Mirzayan.
Mirzayan ran as high as fourth, but the No. 195 MINI placed 18th following a late-race stop for fuel.
Fans can see Cattaneo and Trinkler’s podium finish at the Kia 200 during the race broadcast on SPEED. It airs Saturday, March 19 at 2:00p.m. ET.
RSR Motorsports is sponsored by Cruise America, Thor Motor Coach, US LED, MINI USA, Performance Friction Rotors, OS Giken Racing Clutches and Limited Slip Differentials, Midway Ford Truck Sales, Mini North Scottsdale, Motul USA, Performance Speed Tech, and Carbotech Pads.
Keep up with the team online at www.RSRMotorsports.com.