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ASCHENBACH: Mid-Ohio Debrief

Lawson Aschenbach files his latest Sportscar365 column…

Photo: Blackdog Speed Shop

When the racing season starts each year, I have a single goal: WIN ONE RACE! It keeps me focused on each race weekend rather than the championship picture. I don’t believe in worrying about the end-of-year points standings until it’s time…

Having that simple goal engages me from the start of the season and forces me to push my limits right out the box. Don’t ever get down or give up. It drives me on every lap of every race and helps me clear my mind of all distractions or outside noises.

As we rolled into rounds 11 and 12 of the Pirelli World Challenge GTS season I had one thing on my mind. You guessed it…WIN!

You can imagine the excitement when we arrived at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, my favorite track on the schedule. This is a driver’s track. It’s technical, tough to pass and allows close-quarters racing.

Our season could be summed up in one word until this point: consistent. We had nine podiums in 10 races. It was awesome to have that success rate, but we had a “no-win: asterisk next to our consistent season.

As the weekend started, I knew right away we were in the hunt for the top step of the podium. Our Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R rolled off the trailer fast and my engineer, Eric Miller, helped fine-tune the hot rod throughout practice.

We decided to play a risky game and wait during the beginning of qualifying to see how the track changed. It was a smart move as we only needed three timed laps to secure second on the grid. The car was on rails.

There is a unique starting procedure at Mid-Ohio that has the field take the green flag on the back straight, but restarts revert back to the front straight. I felt this was going to be a benefit as the torque of the Chevy LT1 V8 was going to give the pole-sitter a run for his money when the green flag flew.

Fortunately, I was able to get a good jump and take the lead into Turn Four on the start. Almost immediately the race went yellow for a big crash just past the backstretch flag stand (it was good hear the driver was OK).

Once it was cleaned up we only had about 25 minutes to go. Things were looking up!

Restarts were the name of the game as we ended up with two during Race 1. I pushed hard each time to gain a gap to second which allowed us to stay clear of the battles. Did I mention this was my favorite track?

Taking the car to its limits each lap throughout the race allowed us to bring home the win for Blackdog Speed Shop and Chevrolet. Goal accomplished!

Although Race 2 saw us take the lead on the start and ultimately finish second, this was a great weekend for us and continued to prove that execution is a big part of a championship run!

The win at Mid-Ohio was special for me because it represented all the hard work and dedication put into the Camaro GT4.R program. It was an honor to work with Shawn Meagher (program manager), Chevrolet and Pratt & Miller to help develop this racecar.

It can’t be forgotten that Blackdog received our cars a little over a week before St. Pete; after one short test day at Roebling Road we rolled out of the first event with a double podium and have continued that success throughout the season.

I also need to give a shout-out to Stevenson Motorsports for their two wins over the past month in their Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R. It’s great to see the car gaining results in multiple series and with multiple teams!

Now for the next goal of the year…win another one!

On to Utah!

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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