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Lawson Aschenbach files latest Sportscar365 column after CTMP…

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

Oh, Canada! We always look forward to racing north of the (U.S.) border. It’s a country filled with diehard race fans and they never disappoint. Rain or shine they come out to watch some great racing and are very knowledgeable about the series and cars.

Canadian Tire Motorsport Park is a fantastic place to race; you have to credit Ron Fellows and his partners for the incredible work to upgrade the facility. It has come a long way and I look forward to seeing what they have planned for the future.

The track is fast…real fast! It has a lot of elevation changes and difficult sweeping corners. There isn’t much room for error and that keeps you on your toes. This place is a challenge and tests the very best of drivers!

The Stevenson Motorsports team made our way north for Round 5 of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. We are in a pivotal part of the season as this is the halfway point and the middle of an important stretch of races.

We were confident in our Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R and the fact that this track should suit our hot rod. Our car loves long fast corners and heavy brake zones, the former making up most of this track!

As we started the test day, we quickly realized that this was actually going to be a tough weekend for the Camaro teams. The Balance of Performance change before Watkins Glen was definitely hurting our ability to fight for wins, but no matter what we had to give it everything we had to get the maximum result possible!

Matt [Bell] and I weren’t particularly happy with the setup of the car during the test days and struggled to find a good balance. However, after some careful data evaluation we found an issue.

When you work together as a team you can always find a way to overcome. The guys from Pratt & Miller, Stevenson Motorsports and Chevy never cease to amaze me in their ability to pinpoint issues and correct them the first try. When you have limited track time, making quick and proper changes is extremely important.

Our engineer, Chris “Crumpets” Mander, decided to re-baseline the car after the change and it was evident that he hit the nail on the head.

Sometimes, having the ability to remain calm and re-baseline can be a weekend saver! Afterwards, I was able to put the car P2 in the first official practice and we now had a great starting spot for the setup.

Matt gave it all he had in qualifying and ended up P6. Not what we hoped for, but you can always count on the Stevenson Motorsports team.

Mike Johnson, our strategist, seems to have the magic touch when it comes to timing pitstops and we knew he would put us in contention during the race!

As the green flag flew Matt did a great job and hung right behind our teammate Andrew Davis in the No. 6 car as they pushed to keep pace with the leaders. We decided to bring both cars in around the 30-minute mark for an early pitstop, and Matt and Andrew rejoined the field running nose to tail.

With about an hour to go we came in under caution for full service and driver changes, and I found myself right behind Robin in the sister car. As the green flag came out we had some extremely fast Mustangs behind us and they made quick work getting past us both.

Other than avoiding two cars coming together in front of me at Turn 4 and some intense pressure from behind by the “hometown” boy Mark Wilkins towards the end the race, it was pretty straightforward. Robin and I went nose to tail for the remainder to finish third and fourth, respectively.

All in all, it was a great 3-4 finish for the Stevenson Motorsports team. Our Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R continues to run strong as Matt and I continue to try and fight back in the championship!

Thanks for the team for all their hard work! On to Lime Rock Park!

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

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