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HINDMAN: Yeah, No Pressure!

Trent Hindman files his latest Sportscar365 column following a busy weekend at Road Atlanta…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

It’s been six long months since the last time I have stepped foot in the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3.

Having watched every single GTD race from atop the MSR pit box, the apprehension was building as we drew closer to this year’s edition of Petit Le Mans.

For a team and car that was only meant to run the four NAEC rounds, arriving at Road Atlanta with the prospect of Katherine, Alvaro, and the MSR team winning the GTD title made for just a little bit of pressure on this third wheel’s shoulders. Just a bit.

To me, however, it was business as usual. Luckily, being able to run multiple championships helps with keeping the mind clear of any and all possible scenarios and the paranoia that could ultimately lead to a mistake while in the car.

The physical aspect of trying to be in two paddocks at the same time could be a challenge, but the psychological benefits of “never coming up for air” tends to be pretty underrated.

I’ll fast forward through testing, practice, and qualifying for both the VOLT Racing and MSR programs that I am so fortunate to be a part of.

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

At this point in the season both teams are operating through habit and muscle memory, despite the adversity that could be thrown their way at any given moment.

Seeing this process unfold with the VOLT Racing camp throughout 2018 gives me great pride in being a part of their growth and progression. Everybody on that team has worked at high levels of motorsport before, but the challenge of getting these individuals to operate as a team makes for a fun yet demanding transition, and one I enjoy participating in.

Alan was on point all weekend. Road Atlanta is his type of track since he more or less has the “send it” attitude.

Bravery and commitment behind the wheel is never doubted with him, which is why this place really suits him well. Qualifying 9th, ahead of even some of NASCAR’s finest young guns, was a huge boost for all of us on the team and a confirmation as to how far he’s come in his second season of racing in CTSC.

Of course in all aspects of motorsport, the highs are so incredibly well balanced with the lows.

The elation following Alan’s qualifying effort was equalled with the gut check that was our race, as it was over within five minutes with an admitted mistake. Apart from the pride hurting a bit, we were all just glad to see that Alan was alright.

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

Arriving at the track for the final time in 2018 on Saturday morning, I think it was safe to say that the MSR crew had more nerves showing before the morning warm-up than they did on pre-grid before the start of our 10 hour event.

I swear the first ten minutes and the final five minutes of the race seemed to never end. Everything in between absolutely flew on by with no regard. Focused on just one stint, one stop, even one lap at a time was a necessity.

Our race was looking pretty dim about mid-way through my first double stint after contact with a prototype damaged my right rear wheel that thankfully stayed together for me.

Early afternoon saw us have some difficulty finding balance between speed and strategy but the guys on our pit box, Ryan and Jeff, managed to get pretty creative with our position. They threw us back out into the fire, right at the very front of the GTD field with our sole focus at this point directed towards bringing home the win.

The strategy was there, our car was getting faster and faster as the sun went down, and our crew were savages over the wall, but no matter what we did and how strong we looked, we just couldn’t escape the crap.

Blocked in our pit box by a GTLM car, then contact, and ultimately Alvaro getting shoved out the way twice in the final stint was enough to secure a second place result in the race, as well as securing Kat’s position of P2 in the championship.

A great day but one full of “what could have been”. Big congrats to my friends Bryan, Madison, and Corey on a fantastic season.

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

I find it hard to believe that 2018 has essentially come and gone already.

What’s even more terrifying is the fact that yesterday I read a tweet saying that there’s only 100 days until the 2019 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Not 100 days until the Roar, 100 days until the actual 24 itself, and there’s a hell of a lot of work that needs to be done in between.

I’ve had the honor of once again being able to work with some of the very best in the industry across multiple paddocks.

None of this could have happened without Alan and the VOLT Racing team, Mike and the Meyer Shank Racing team, my friends at Trim-Tex, as well as those individuals who continue grinding away and supporting these programs with pure grit at the shop or in paddocks across North America.

They’re the real backbone of the madness and unfortunately it’s often times a thankless job.

Also, a quick shoutout to everybody from Continental Tire for their efforts over the last decade in American sports car racing. It was privilege to not only compete in their series, but also drive the “Conti” car at Petit Le Mans last weekend.

We still have one remaining race this year and that’s the Lamborghini Super Trofeo World Final at Vallelunga, Italy in three weeks time. Wayne Taylor Racing, Prestige Performance, Jonathan Cecotto, and I look to recreate the championship winning success from last year.

The “off season” is a myth and I couldn’t be any more happy about that fact.

Trent Hindman (@TrentHindman) is the 2014 Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge GS class champion, driving for VOLT Racing in Continental Tire Challenge and Michael Shank Racing in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races.

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