One can be either the best number or the loneliest number. For IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge driver Eric Foss, being the standalone champion of the ST class feels like a little bit of both.
Foss’ second Continental Tire Challenge championship comes on the heels of one of his most historic seasons yet, but the success didn’t come without its trials.
After leading the point standings for five consecutive races in the No. 56 Murillo Racing Porsche Cayman, Foss suddenly found himself without his regular co-driver Jeff Mosing, who sustained a back injury during a Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama race in July.
Mosing powered through the pain for nearly two months before a doctor diagnosed the extent of his injury and told him to withdraw from the remaining two Continental Tire Challenge races.
This is the second time that a back injury has kept Mosing from sharing the championship with Foss – the first being in 2014 after he sat out one race and finished third in the standings.
“Jeff called me one day and I could tell he didn’t sound the same as his normal, upbeat, typical chipper self, so I asked him what was wrong,” Foss said.
“He said he’d been to the doctor and they found out he wasn’t able to participate in the rest of the races for the season. That was a pretty devastating blow because I know how much it means to him and it really means to me to have him in the car. It was a tough phone call from him.”
Until that phone call, Foss and Mosing had two wins and four additional podiums under their belt in just eight races. They had completed all but two laps of competition and led laps in the first four races of the season, leading to an average finish of fourth place.
“With Murillo Racing every prior season, we always had a good first race or two and then we always seemed to have a race that caught us off-guard, so we were constantly trying to make up points in the series,” Foss said.
“This year was different that we had a really good start to the season and we were consistently having good finishes with many podiums in a row.”
With Mosing’s withdrawal, New York native Justin Piscitell was pegged as the substitute driver.
“I’ve known Justin since the end of 2008 when he was selected by Mazda in their ladder system to move up to the next step,” explained Foss.
“I was actually one of the judges at the event when he was selected as the ladder winner. I built a relationship with Justin shortly after as a driver coach.
“I coached him in the Mazda MX-5 series in 2010 and we became really good friends, so getting that opportunity to race with him the last couple races, seeing his potential and knowing what a solid driver he is was just a great pleasure.”
When the checkered flag flew at Road Atlanta and Foss clinched his second ST championship, he finished with the most top-10 finishes among ST drivers with nine. His and Mosing’s six podiums were the most top-three finishes of any Continental Tire Challenge driver in 2017.
Foss is also the only active driver with two championships and will enter 2018 looking to tie all-time leader Scott Maxwell, who has claimed three series championships.
“It’s just an honor,” said Foss. “This is the type of racing I watched as a kid and wanted to do. I love production-based racing and yeah, it’s an incentive for next year.
“We’re going to move to a new platform potentially, looking to move up to GS, so I’m looking forward to that challenge. Championships are just a byproduct of the team being successful and the drivers doing the right thing. If we get another opportunity, it’d be great.”