So…. I don’t really know what to write about Road America.
I have a love/hate relationship with the track, going back almost 15 years. I made my debut at Road America in the Atlantic series back in 2000, and held pace with some big names.
In 2012, Magnus was effectively eliminated from the championship when the engine blew up. Two months ago, I nearly took third in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race there.
It’s an awesome place that is fun to drive at, but for some reason it’s a place where things go really well or really bad for me.
Sunday would be considered a bad one.
The all-new Porsche 911 GT America is an interesting challenge. The car has a very narrow window for setup, and with the GTD field of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship so incredibly tight, you can’t afford to be a little off.
The guys have been working really hard to find the perfect balance, and we had a great test a few weeks ago, so coming to Road America we were optimistic.
Qualifying wasn’t quite what we wanted with eighth, but we thought John was in good shape to start the race.
Unfortunately, after the first yellow of the race, John got tagged hard on the re-start and ended up running in to the guys in front of him, damaging both ends of the car.
He continued to do a few laps, but the guys could see the water temperature slowly starting to rise on the telemetry, and when he came in to the pits it was clear we had to go to the garage for extensive repairs.
It’s painful to just sit there. The race was over before I even put my helmet on. There’s no way anyone would ever let me touch a set of tools, so all I could do is just grab a chair and wait.
I especially felt bad for John, who didn’t do anything wrong and had to just sit in the car during the whole process… waiting.
Everyone says they have the best crew out there, but the Magnus guys prove it time and time again. They changed dozens and dozens of components in 35 minutes…. literally transforming a car that shouldn’t have run at all in to a car that was incredibly similar to what it was before the crash.
It is simply amazing to watch these guys almost instinctively knowing what to do, working arm-in-arm without ever having to ask questions. It’s tough to describe how impressive it.
I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to drive racing cars for a living, but even more fortunate to be able to drive for teams like Magnus Racing, Stevenson Motorsports, and several others who are completely committed to perfection.
Part of the rush for everyone was getting the car back out to get John and I our minimum drive times. This year, the rule is a driver must perform his minimum drive time (in this case, one hour for a two-hour, forty-five minute race) ON track. Time in the pits or the garage doesn’t count.
This meant the guys had to get John back out to drive an additional 25 minutes, and then hopefully get me out in time to get my 60 minutes as well.
John was out and gone, did the remaining 25 minutes he needed, and then handed it over to me just as a yellow came out.
This is where it all went wrong.
We were several laps down, so we didn’t really care about when we pitted for the sake of gaining ground… we were really just playing pit strategy to get John and I our drive times. When John and I did our driver change, the pits were technically closed. As a result, I had to later come in for a penalty.
The biggest issue, however, was in this process we also took a wave-by for all cars a lap down… which we weren’t allowed to do because of the fact we took a pit stop in a closed pit.
This was killer, because we ended up getting a four-minute penalty for illegally taking a wave-by. Even worse, this four minutes of serving meant four-minutes of me NOT being scored for my drive time…. all because we took a wave-by that ultimately didn’t really matter for us. Ouch.
When I took the checkered flag, by our calculations we still had me on-track for just over 60 minutes, but at the time of writing this IMSA disagrees. In other words, John scored points for the race, but as of this article I have not.
I’m glad John and the team are still in this thing though. It’s going to be tough for us to have a shot at the championship, but we still have a shot at a top-three, which would be awesome.
Unfortunately I’m completely out of this without being scored, but I’m still every bit as motivated as I want to see John and the team come away from something this year… they’ve all been pushing so hard.
On to VIR.