This past weekend, the Pirelli World Challenge headed to the historical sports car track of Mid-Ohio.
this is with out a doubt one of the most spectacular race tracks in North America. I had the pleasure to be there with my Kinetic Motorsport and KIA racing in the No. 36 Donors Choose.Org KIA Optima Turbo.
We had a very good car here last year so we felt pretty confident that we would have a good and well handling car this year as well. The only question mark I had was the Camaro and how strong that car was going to be after have been given a bigger air restrictor after the last race in Toronto.
My question was answered pretty quickly. As soon as the first practice session started, the Camaro was going to be very fast and hard to beat this weekend. They were on top of the timing sheets both in practice and qualifying with our car 3rd.
I had to try come up with some sort of strategy to not run too hard in the beginning but still maintain a good pace with out hurting the front tires.
In the first race, I had a pretty good start of the line but got squeezed off track in Turn 2 by a GT car and I lost a few spots and dropped to 6th before the end of the first lap.
I put my head down and was pushing hard to try to get by the Mutangs. All a sudden I saw some rain drops on the wind screen on the front straight. Next time by, one of the Mustangs got sideways and I was able to capitalize on that.
I kept pushing, and a few laps later, the yellow flag came out. We were driving around behind the safety car when the sky completely opened up and the rain was coming down hard.
With everyone being on slick tires, it became extremely hard to maneuver the car, even at pace car speeds. One of the cars in front of me slid off track and I gained a spot. Two laps later, I decided to pit for rain tires.
This was without a doubt the right decision from a condition standpoint, but I was nervous that they would red flag the race and lose all the positions in the pits to the cars that decided to keep going around.
Sure enough, the following lap the red flag came out. But as always, the results are always taken from the previous lap of the red flag. So I was very lucky that we did not go back to green and ended up with a 3rd place finish. This was good for the manufacturer championship.
Because of having to race and trying to get by those Mustangs in front of me before the rain come, I never got a clean lap to put in a good lap time. That resulted in me having the 6th fastest time in the race and that starting position for Sunday’s race.
I was determined to do a good start and get through the field no matter what. I had a good start off the grid again, but there were two stalled GT cars ahead that created a huge mess and snowball effect of people hitting each other and sliding off the track.
I managed to maneuver myself through and make an outside move into Turn 2 to get up to 5th place, got a good run down the straight and dove inside a car in to Turn 4 for 4th.
Now I started to push to see were I possibly could get by the Camaro in 3rd. I ran behind for about 3-4 laps to understand were I was faster and how to try set him up for a pass.
I got a really good run of Turn 2 and made a outside move in to Turn 3 under braking, and again because of very clean and fair driving from the other driver, we could go two-wide through the corner with me ending up ahead at the exit.
The goal was then to chase down the Mustang in 2nd. This was very important because of the manufacturer points. I did the same thing and was able to get a good run of Turn 1 and position myself for a pass under braking in to Turn 2.
A yellow flag came out because of a car hitting the wall entry to Turn 11. It was about 8 minutes left when we went back green. With lots of pick up on my tires, I was able to hold off the Mustang but could not manage to stay with the Camaro who was the dominant car all weekend.
We did a good solid job and had a good weekend, also in the TCA class with Jason Wolfe winning with a dominating performance in the rain on Saturday, at his home track and pull out another 40 points in the Championship, along with myself having 3rd and 2nd place finishes and my teammate Mark Wilkins with a 3rd on Sunday as well.
It was a good and solid week for Kinetic Motorsports and KIA Racing. Onto Sonoma!