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ASCHENBACH: The Final Push

Lawson Aschenbach files his final Sportscar365 column of year following end of PWC GTS season…

Photo: PWC

Racing is a brutal sport. It can make you feel like you’re on top of the world only to kick you in the gut the very next weekend. One moment you’re dominating a race, and the next you’re struggling to stay mid-pack.

The high of a win is like no other feeling in the world, and the low of a crash can leave your head spinning for weeks. You push yourself and the car over the limit sometimes. But it’s when you hit that sweet spot that you feel unbeatable.

In the end, no matter what is thrown at you, you can never give up…

The 2018 Pirelli World Challenge was a year of extreme highs and lows for Blackdog Speed Shop. It seemed we were either fighting for wins or fixing cars. Our patience was tested regularly, but our drive and determination to succeed never wavered.

Watkins Glen showcased the final race of the World Challenge season and also the last Sprint race weekend of the year. We were out of the overall championship, but we still had a shot for the driver and team sprint championships.

Believe it or not, we were fortunate to make the race with the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R after a fairly substantial crash in the previous event. The Blackdog crew worked overtime to put the hot rod back together in a very short timeframe.

Photo: Blackdog Speed Shop

That’s the common theme this program shows every year; we never give up when our backs are against the wall.

Personally, I was fairly optimistic arriving to one of my favorite tracks. We had one goal: get the pole and win both races. If we did that it would put pressure on the championship leader.

In all honesty we have that expectation every weekend, but there is something about events when everything is on the line. We thrive in these scenarios and are always ready for battle…

Practice saw us sitting P1 with the Camaro GT4.R, and we were feeling pretty confident heading into qualifying. Sadly, it was clear that most of the other cars had quite a bit left in the tank as we ended up a few tenths off the pole and third on the grid.

In the end, the race is where it counts. Both races showed the qualifying speeds were accurate, though.

We ended up with two P3 finishes while making up little ground in the championship and having to settle for second in the Driver standings. However, we did clinch the team championship!

Some people would be happy with those results, but we aren’t. We push ourselves to the edge every year to get the maximum performance out of the car and season. Our goal is simple: win the [overall] championship – Driver, Team and Manufacturer.

The late nights, long gym sessions, sweat, time spent away from family, and many other dedications just aren’t satisfied. I know, I know…you can’t win them all they say. BUT, you can sure try…

Photo: Richard Prince/Blackdog Speed Shop

What does this do to a driver, team and manufacturer?

It starts the fire. And you better believe that fire burns all offseason. From the last lap of 2018 to the first lap of 2019, we will be dedicating ourselves to come back stronger than ever. Determination will kick into high gear as we push the limits of engineering, fitness, performance, mental stamina…man and machine will be torn apart and carefully put back together. We will be tougher, stronger, fitter, faster and more…

You can’t stand still in this sport. You can never settle. You need to push the boundaries at all times. The offseason gives you that ability to regroup and plan your attack.

And I promise you… we will.

Let me say a big THANK YOU to Blackdog Speed Shop. We’ve been working together for six years now, and I couldn’t be more proud of our accomplishments. It’s been an honor to drive for this team and I look forward to more success in the future!

Also, thank you Chevrolet, Pratt & Miller, Forgeline Wheels, Arai Americas, Stand 21 North America and the rest of our 2018 season partners!

Photo: Richard Prince/Blackdog Speed Shop

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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