It’s been a promising start to the 2017 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge season for Murillo Racing teammates Eric Foss and Jeff Mosing.
Looking to capitalize off last year’s success – two victories, three podiums and a second-place finish in the final point standings – the No. 56 Porsche Cayman teammates have already shown their strength in the Street Tuner (ST) class in 2017. The duo piloted the car to a second-place finish at the season-opening BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona and then followed that up with another strong performance at Sebring, finishing third.
“The start of the season has been really good,” said Foss. “This Murillo Racing team has done a phenomenal job as always and I think the biggest key is that we finally got the monkey off our back at Sebring. We had two miserable races there the past two years with mechanical issues in the first couple laps of the race, and I think to get through that and to get a podium at Sebring was very important to us.”
The third race of the season, though, could set the tone for the rest of the year. In two weeks, the Continental Tire Challenge returns to Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, and after winning the event last year, Foss and Mosing are more than eager to return to the track, which also happens to be in their own backyard.
“COTA’s a lot more technical than I think people give it credit for,” said Mosing, who currently resides in Austin. “Some people see it as simple, but it’s really hard to get the last tenth of a percent out of the car, which at the Continental (Tire Challenge) level, for sure, is somewhere you have to look for every advantage.
“Eric and I both tend to like the tracks that have high speed, technical stuff, rather than the park and turn. Circuit of The Americas is one of the more technical courses that we ended up running on and going into COTA where we won last year, it’d be great to go back to that track and have a repeat.”
Foss, who made the move to Fort Worth, Texas in 2006, agrees with his teammate. He also recognizes the benefits that come with living so close to the track.
“Living in Texas has really helped because I do so much driver coaching that I end up at COTA at least five or six times a year,” Foss explained. “It’s been going through a lot of changes just as it’s seasoned. Some new areas have changed surface and some new bumps have developed in places, so I get a lot of opportunities to experience those changes and work around them on a regular basis.”
But there’s more to it than just living near the circuit.
Foss and Mosing met in 2008 as part of a driver coaching session and immediately hit it off. Over the last nine years, the friendship between Foss and Mosing has grown stronger than just a bond between two drivers sharing the same race car. Each driver considers the other to be more of a brother-figure and as a part of the family.
“I think initially the big connection there was that we both realized that it was important to have fun and to make sure no matter what, that we’re both having fun at the track,” said Foss. “I think he and I really look at this just as two friends trying to have a good time together. We want to be successful, that’s definitely a drive behind us, but it’s ultimately just getting to see each other, do well and really exceed at it.”
That bond extends even further at-track, as Mosing explained how familiar they’ve become with each other’s driving styles.
“I think as the years go by, it becomes a bigger and bigger advantage because he and I know how each other drives and the way we relay things to the engineers is similar,” Mosing said. “With Eric and I, the way that our data looks, it’s almost identical as far as the driving technique, how quick we turn the steering wheel in, and how hard or how quickly we brake.”
Back in 2014, the duo first joined forces during the Continental Tire Challenge ST season and saw immediate success, with Foss winning the driver’s championship that year. If not for missing the race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Mosing would have been atop the point standings with his co-driver. Both drivers believe this could be the year they finally get that elusive championship together.
“I feel like I owe him a championship and it was a bummer in 2014 because it was all because of him,” Foss said. “We’re just going to try and carry our momentum forward and continue to see if we can just be on the podium. Winning a race is always a bonus but winning a championship in the past, you don’t have to have an average finishing position that shows you won every race.”
“We’ve always been able to run up front and certainly at the top of the roster, but I would like to put it to rest to know that I have the ability to win a championship if everything falls in place correctly,” Mosing added. “Sometimes, you can do all the prep that you want and there’s just going to be some element of luck that’s good or bad that’s going to determine ultimately your destiny. We’re going to keep doing the same thing we’ve been doing.”