Freedom Autosport Earns Two Top Tens in Competitive Sebring 120

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Freedom Autosport dealt with a bevy of challenges during the two-hour IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Sebring 120 on Friday, but the team left the historic Sebring International Raceway with two top-ten finishes in the ST class.

Andrew Carbonell and Liam Dwyer were seventh in the No. 26 Semper Fi Fund Mazda MX-5 after a hard charge by both drivers. Just behind them in eighth was the No. 27 TRUMPF Mazda MX-5 of Britt Casey, Jr. and Robby Foley. Unfortunately, the No. 25 ModSpace/Spartan Cargo Trailers Mazda MX-5 had a shock failure from contact early in the race that limited Stevan McAleer and Chad McCumbee to a finish of 16th.

Dwyer started the No. 26 Mazda in 11th and stopped during a full-course caution to hand over to Carbonell, who re-entered the race in 16th. Carbonell instantly began to move forward, bump drafting with Casey in the No. 27 and racing closely with other ST front-runners before crossing the finish line in seventh.

Foley started 10th in the No. 27 Mazda, which welcomed new sponsor Cushman & Wakefield at Sebring. The car had limited time in qualifying due to a drivetrain issue, but when it came time to race, Foley was up to sixth in just 15 minutes. After the driver change, Casey had to deal with a power steering loss but managed to hang on for a finish of eighth.

“Sebring used to be a good top-five track for us, and the Mazda MX-5s do really well in the corners here, but on the long straights, those bigger powered cars are able to motor around us,” said Dwyer. “It’s early in the championship season and we’ve got two top tens to start the year. It’s going to be tough, though. We really need to start getting top fives consistently.”

“Our Mazda MX-5 was great, and Freedom Autosport did a great job setting up the car,” said Carbonell. “It’s one of the strongest cars we’ve had in a while, but as we’ve gotten faster, so has everyone else, and it’s really difficult to get up there and make the position. We kept it clean and came out with a top-ten finish, but I feel like the team deserved so much more for how good the car was and how well everything was executed.”

Foley said, “The start was really hectic. It was the first time I’ve started a Continental Tire race, so it was a little bit different for me, and it was a learning experience. I conserved the car a bit for Britt toward the end of my stint, because we weren’t going to gain anything by pushing the car too much.”

“The car was good: we set it up for the long run on some older tires, knowing that’s what it was going to be like at the end. We picked up a lot of positions in the last 20 minutes,” said Casey. “We just had one little thing happen, and it’s cliché Sebring with the bumps: I had a huge workout with no power steering for 45 minutes! The bumps work these cars super hard, and weird stuff breaks.”

“It wasn’t an ideal situation today,” said McCumbee. “We did this one time at VIR and got a good result out of it, but Sebring just isn’t a track to lose a shock at. It’s not what we wanted, and it’s not what our ModSpace guys deserved. We should have had at least a chance at the podium today, so we’ll regroup and see if we can’t win one at Circuit of the Americas.”

McAleer noted, “Sebring is one of my favorite tracks, so the result is a disappointment. It looked like Chad had a good car, but the right rear shock was damaged on the first lap, and we had to drive around and try to not crash the car at that point. I think we could have been up front with the first five cars, and I hope we get another shot at it at the next race.”

“ModSpace had high hopes for Chad and Stevan this weekend at Sebring,” stated William Mann, Vice President of Business Development for ModSpace. “They came to Sebring with a great car and the experience they needed for success this weekend. They were the highest qualifying drivers for the Freedom team. In race trim the drivers were strong, however they broke a spring that ended their day earlier. ModSpace looks forward to the next race for these guys in a couple of weeks.”

Fans can catch the TV broadcast of the Sebring 120 on FS1 at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 26.