Lime Rock Park is a fairly straightforward track when it comes to driving and it’s by far the shortest track on the schedule: Only 1.5 miles! It can create lots of close-quarters racing that provides the fans with intense action. Unfortunately, “action” seems to be the word to describe contact and wrecks!
As the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge made its way to Connecticut, we knew we would be fighting an uphill battle. Tire wear and grip were going to be the challenges of the weekend. Being the heaviest and highest car in the series, per the rules, makes it tough!
Everyone at Stevenson Motorsports and Pratt & Miller have been working hard to help get our Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.Rs back on the top step of the podium. We would have to be on our game this weekend because of the short timeframes we had to make changes between sessions.
Practice was intense to say the least. Matt Bell and I worked hard with our engineer, Chris “Crumpets” Mander, on the setup. This track creates some unique challenges when trying to find the right balance between understeer and oversteer.
You normally want to start the race with a good amount of understeer because the car will quickly transition to oversteer between tire wear and decreasing fuel loads. If you start with no understeer then be sure you will be fighting a VERY loose car!
Matt threw down the gauntlet in qualifying to grab P1 and needs only one more to tie the record for most poles in the Continental Tire Challenge series. It was a bit surprising as we figured a few other cars would go quicker, but obviously we were happy to be up front!
As Matt started his stint during the race he was in perfect position. He had a great run, briefly falling to P2 before fighting back to grab the lead.
A few unfortunate events for the cars behind him allowed us to stretch the lead to almost 10 seconds.
The race had a few early cautions, but all before the 45-minute driver time requirement. We ended up getting a long green flag run and just past the hour mark we decided to do our one (and only) stop and driver change as this was only a two-hour race.
As I left the pits we saw our lead evaporate. Our stop was a tad slow, but we fortunately still maintained P1.
I had a great scrap for the lead, but fell to second after getting caught out by some ST class traffic (close-quarters racing!). It was a bit frustrating, but I figured if I could hold my position and continue to apply pressure, maybe we would have a reverse of fortunes.
I was battling hard to keep pace, but the “action” packed part of Lime Rock crept up on me at the wrong time! As I was setting up an ST car that had made a mistake in Turn 3, the driver came back across the track and hit us in the right front.
You would be surprised if you realized how slow things become when you are heading straight for the tire barrier! While sliding in the grass I cut the wheel to the right and floored it to try and get the car to spin away from the wall.
Fortunately that worked and as I cut the wheel back to the left to whip the front end around I found myself pointed back towards the track. I guess a little Dukes of Hazzard for you!
We fell back to sixth, but were able to recover to finish fifth. We ended up with a fourth and fifth result for the Stevenson Motorsports Camaros. Not the finishes we hoped for, but we were happy to get out of there in one piece!
You win some and you lose some, but you always win as a team and lose as a team. Thanks to the team for all their hard work over the weekend. I have no doubt in my mind we will rebound in Road America!