While Fellows recuperated from the extreme heat in the "Fehan Special" (Corvette program manager Doug Fehan had rigged up a lawn chair with a garden hose and sprinkler), "Ironman Andy" just plain ol' ran away from the once-indomitable Vipers during an extended (nearly two-hour) stint at the helm of the C5-R, putting both "snakes" down by a couple of laps. Late in the race, in a final pit stop for fuel and fresh tires, a thoroughly recovered Ron Fellows relieved Pilgrim for the dash to the checkered flag.
As the race wound down to its final few minutes, there was a palpable air of both excitement and anxiety in the Corvette pits. The C5-R now had a three-lap lead over the better-running Viper; victory was in sight-if nothing broke, if another car didn't take out the Vette, if, if, if...
Fellows never let up, the Corvette continued to run flawlessly, and pandemonium broke out in the pits when the checkered flag waved over the white, black, and yellow C5-R as it crossed the finish line-with a more than seven-mile lead on the Vipers!
Victory is always sweet, especially that first, elusive win! And Team Corvette did it in style. This wasn't a squeaker, a narrow win with a few seconds lead, but rather a thoroughly decisive, total stomping of the "unbeatable" Team ORECA Vipers! Interestingly, this was the first time that both teams came to a venue without the advantage of, in the Vipers' case, up to four years worth of information about a track and setting up a race car for the course. It was, in Doug Fehan's words, "A true test of crews, cars, and drivers."
As the crew savored their first win, Ron Fellows stated, "The snake has been bitten in Texas! This is just awesome. Thanks to all of the guys. This has been a long time coming."
Andy Pilgrim was equally elated. "We look happy, don't we? The GM Racing guys, GM Goodwrench, Goodyear, Pratt & Miller, everyone involved, this has been an incredible two years in the making! What can I say?" Said team manager Gary Pratt, "Oh man, this feels great!" And Gary Claudio, the group marketing manager for GM Racing, summed it up very well, "I think the Corvette brand and all of the Corvette owners around the world should be very proud of Team Corvette."We are, Gary!