Ernie Francis Jr. wins 6th victory at Road America
August 31, 2017
Ernie Francis Jr’s 6th Victory in 8 races at Road America last weekend in the rain was a sweet end to a hectic week.
Breathless Racing Team had their hands full preparing Ernie’s #98 Buoniconti Fund Ford TA Race Car as on Thursday they had to install a new engine that Katech Performance built. Although this was a scheduled replacement with added HP and other adjustments it was still a challenge to prepare the car for the first practice on Friday Morning.
Friday morning first practice, the car ran well however Ernie was only able to get 9th fastest lap time so it was decided that the gearing in the transmission was not correct and needed to be changed to account for the new power in the engine. Rebuilding the transmission would cause Ernie to miss the second practice of the day and so it was a bit of a risk as Qualifying would be the only other time in the car before the race so there was no room for error with picking the right set up. Thanks to EMCO Gears and Mark Meissen of Meissen Enterprises for the rebuild.
Saturday qualifying was a giant relief to our team as Ernie drove to a P2 time and with the exception of a few minor adjustments, the car was 100% race ready for Sunday.
Sunday the Breathless Racing Team woke up to pouring down rain and it was clear that with a 7:55am race start that the Pirelli rain tires would be tested for the first time in a race.
Ernie began the day in second place behind pole sitter Martin Ragginger, in the No. 50 Goshare Axalta Chevrolet Camaro, before taking the lead only three laps into the race after the No. 50 suffered a mechanical failure. Francis would lead the initial 15 laps comfortably, pushing the gap well over 20 seconds, despite the efforts of Cliff Ebben, in the No. 36 Stumpf Ford/ McMahon Group Ford Mustang, who was beginning to whittle away at the lead as the field went under a full-course yellow to remove debris on course.
On the restart, Francis would immediately lay down his fastest lap of the race and once more begin to gap Ebben and the field before securing his sixth TA class win of the season in relative comfort.
“Our Buoniconti Fund Ford TA was simply amazing as it ran and handled fantastic in the rain thanks to our great chassis built by Meissen Enterprises, the JRi Shocks, EMCO Gears and Katech Motor” stated Ernie after the race!