Another of the TRG Porsches, the No. 39 The DigiTrust Group Porsche 997 of co-drivers Duncan Ende and Spencer Pumpelly, almost had an even better result. After starting 10th, Ende drove a clean and competitive first stint that included a brief appearance in the top five before pitting just before the one-hour mark in seventh position.
Pumpelly then jumped into the cockpit and he and the No. 39 team used essentially the same strategy as the No. 41 team. Pumpelly moved up to second place at one point in the first half of his double stint and pitted under green with one hour and one minute remaining while running in fifth place.
He resumed in 21st position but quickly worked his way forward and when the other leaders pitted on Lap 62, Pumpelly found himself in third place for the Lap 65 restart. When leader Doug Goad had a brief off-course excursion on the first green flag lap, Pumpelly moved into second place. Two laps later, Pumpelly charged past Tom Milner and into the lead with less than 20 minutes remaining.
Just a few seconds later, however, disaster struck the No. 39 team, as the car slowed to a stop on the Daytona Superstretch with the same engine management problems that felled the No. 41 team a day earlier. Pumpelly and Ende wound up 32nd in the GS class and 70th overall.
We did all that work in the offseason, and the one thing we just can’t get under control is our engine management issues, Buckler said. The car was great, even with the extra weight. We did all these other things, and Spencer just drove the wheels off the thing. Duncan did a fantastic job keeping the car up front. What a great team! The guys worked so hard, but no matter what, we just run too hot and we blow up. That’s what happened, right as we took the lead. I’m pretty sure we would have kept it.
We were having a great race, added Ende. Our strategy was playing absolutely to perfection, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t finish. It’s really frustrating. We’re not really sure what did it. We think it was just running too hot for too long, and that’s been our problem since the program started last year. I thought we were making progress, but each of our cars lost an engine this weekend. Unfortunately for us, ours went right after we took the lead in the race with 20 minutes to go. I don’t know if we would have won, but it would have been close. I think we would have been up there, so it’s a tough pill to swallow.
It’s always disappointing when you have bad luck, but I’m very encouraged about this year, Pumpelly contributed. The team was excellent and the car was very well-prepared. Our strategy was perfect and I had a great car thanks to the TRG guys. Even though it was disappointing today, I’m very optimistic about our chances to win a lot of races this year. Duncan did an awesome job today. The reason why we were in the front at the end was because Duncan kept the car right at the front and I didn’t have to make up any time. We just let the strategy fall where it was. If it hadn’t been for Ende’s really strong run, I don’t think we’d have been anywhere near the front.