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Scott Tucker, A Year In Review: Infineon Challenge

Sports/Touring Car Racing Topics:  Scott Tucker, Infineon Challenge

Scott Tucker, A Year In Review: Infineon Challenge

Shelley Baughman
Level 5 Motorsports
October 13, 2011

Scott Tucker and his Level 5 Motorsports teammates recently began the final quarter of a racing year that has included numerous podium appearances, multiple car changes, incredible accomplishments and yet still room for improvement. Tucker, owner and driver for Level 5, has been a leader for the team despite the rookie status he maintained merely months ago. His tight, balanced driving has earned him top honors in the American Le Mans Series as Rookie of the Year and Champion Driver in 2010. His races often end with stints on the podium, and his career has only just begun.

As Tucker, his co-drivers Christophe Bouchut and Luis Diaz and team manager David Stone prepare to close the calendar year with the all-important Petit Le Mans and the Ferrari International Finals, the stakes are high—the team has woven itself a reputation of excellence that is best understood by looking back at what has made 2011 a stunning year for Level 5 Motorsports.

To spend a day driving in Scott Tucker's shoes would prove exhaustive. In his seventh race in just five months, Level 5 Motorsports owner and driver Scott Tucker rejoined the Ferrari Challenge series in Monterey, Calif., during the weekend of May 22. The versatility, determination and sheer endurance required of someone to maintain Tucker's schedule of three different series makes him impressive enough, but the fact that he had multiple podium finishes already under his belt as he hit the Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway for the FC 458 race make him impossible to forget.

The weekend's pair of races were the Ferrari 458's debut in the FC series, and it provoked intense competition on the famous 11-turn track. One of Tucker's previous podium finishes came at the FC season opener in April at Infineon Raceway. Because of his hectic schedule, Tucker hadn't spent much time testing the 458, putting him at a slight disadvantage despite his winning record coming into the race.

The 458 challenge is based on the Ferrari 458 Italia, and the car has been modified with several significant changes in order to ready it for competition driving. Gear ratios and recalibration of the gearbox provide the car higher torque at lower revolutions. Mechanics have also gone to great lengths to reduce the car's weight, specifically focusing on lessening the thickness of body shell panels and using lighter materials such as carbon fiber.

"It's a great car, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to develop it more as the season continues," Tucker said at the time. After the starting flag on Saturday, Tucker delivered an impressive performance, battling traffic and ultimately securing a second-place position. He was out of laps before he could catch Enzo Potolicchio, who chalked up his second win of the season.

Sunday brought a second day of intense competition. Tucker, who served as a Ferrari test driver in 2010 for the 599XX supercar, also won the FC Dealership Championship for Boardwalk Ferrari in 2009, along with the Sports Car Club of America National Championship in a Ferrari 430. Unfortunately, Sunday brought a fifth-place finish for Tucker. "The car I drove was the best we had," he said. "Unfortunately, some of the other guys had more time to test than we did, so they were stronger. We'll see what we can do about that."

Level 5 was also waiting on official approval of its primary car, so Tucker competed in the secondary car. Add that to the fact that Tucker's next scheduled stop would be at the 24 Hours of Le Mans—the world's most prestigious endurance race—and it's a wonder he maintained the focus and drive to score yet another podium appearance. "We definitely filled our plate," Tucker said. "But our team is also full of talent and dedication. Every time we race, we race to win, and we're not going to back down in the face of hard work."

Of the FC 458 race, Tucker said, "We have a win and a podium, so we'll continue to develop this car."

With the ILMC 24 Hours of Le Mans ever nearer, the Level 5 team headed to France with a win on their minds yet again.

Shelley Baughman has been keeping a close eye on Scott Tucker, owner and driver, of Level 5 Motorsports throughout the past year to keep you posted about the success of the dream team. To get more information about Tucker, check out http://www.planetlemans.com/?s=scott+tucker

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