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ASCHENBACH: Road America Debrief

Lawson Aschenbach files his latest Sportscar365 column…

Photo: Richard Prince/GM

Road America is not for the faint of heart. It’s got fast corners that create an exciting, albeit dangerous, track that truly tests the limits of man and machine. One small slip up and your race, or weekend, is over.

Elkhart Lake, Wis. plays host to many races each year, and I believe every team and driver looks forward to arriving at this picturesque part of northern America.

Rolling green hills, lakes, golf courses, and a fun little town create a great atmosphere for everyone.

Blackdog Speed Shop came into the weekend with high hopes of continuing our successful season: seven podiums in eight races so far!

We unloaded our Chevrolet Camaro GT4.Rs and headed into practice with some unknowns that needed to be answered.

This track has long-radius fast corners, heavy brake zones, elevation changes, and brutal curbs. These curbs, specifically, can wreak havoc on a car’s suspension. Some of these curbs could give Sebring a run for its money!

We started out with a rainy session Thursday, which was good since we haven’t been able to do a lot of wet weather testing with the new car.

With only minor adjustments, we had a solid balance for tricky conditions, and gained some important information for the future.

Most of the next three sessions were dry, and that allowed us to push the car’s limit to see how we stacked up to the competition. I was happy with the car, but it was obvious we lacked a bit of pace.

Qualifying proved our concern as we ended up sixth, a second off the pole. Not what we were hoping, but, in all honesty, it was about what we expected.

In the end, qualifying is qualifying; the race is where it counts!

As the green flag flew in Race 1, I pushed as hard as I could to gain a few spots in the opening laps. It worked as we moved into second place on Lap Two. I knew I had to keep pushing because tire wear was going to be a concern.

Sure enough, I noticed that third place was catching me, rather quickly, about midway through the race. I went into full Defense Mode proceeded to do everything in my power to keep the position.

Using every bit of the track, we had a fair, clean battle that ultimately saw us keep second place. It was everything we had and I’m fortunate to have a great car and team that gives me every opportunity to fight for position.

Race 2 saw us starting fourth, and the moment the lights when out it became a caution show.

With limited laps – only 13 – we were able to work our way to second place, but due to three wrecks our green flag running was short lived.

That may have been a blessing in disguise as I feel we overachieved. It’s a testament to Blackdog Speed Shop and everyone else involved in this program. Execution is half the battle. You may not have the fastest car out there, but you still get to race!

All-in-all we had a very successful weekend at Road America. The Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R continues to amaze me in its ability to adapt to different circuits, track surfaces, and changing conditions.

Not to mention that fact that Tony Gaples, my teammate, and I are leading our respective championships in the GTS category!

Changing directions here, I want to talk a little golf. Tony, Shawn (our program manager) and I got the chance to play at the Quit Qui Oc golf course in Elkhart Lake on Friday afternoon.

Great course, but let’s just say all three of us will be sticking to our day jobs! It was fun regardless!

On to Mid-Ohio!

Lawson Aschenbach (@lawsonaracing) is a former Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and Pirelli World Challenge champion, driving for Stevenson Motorsports in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Blackdog Speed Shop in Pirelli World Challenge.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. William Kreps

    July 6, 2017 at 5:03 am

    This is one of the best articles I have come across. Keep up the good work.

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