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O’CONNELL: Mid-Ohio Debrief

Johnny O’Connell files latest Sportscar365 column after Mid-Ohio…

Photo: Richard Prince/Cadillac Racing

Photo: Richard Prince/Cadillac Racing

There were a lot of very good things that took place at Mid-Ohio this past weekend. I had two finishes in the top six with the car that burned at Barber, and my teammate Andy Pilgrim came home 11th on Sunday.

Another good thing that happened was that the Pirelli World Challenge brought Dorsey Schroeder on board full time to work with Brian Till and Pat Di Natale as the committee that will review all on track racing incidents. Dorsey and Brian know as well as anyone what top line drivers are thinking, and how track etiquette should be viewed and judged.

Having them both, along with Pat who brings his many years of experience, as the official board is a giant step forward to bringing World Challenge racing to a world class level. Great news!

Finally, the car that caught fire at Barber, “Sugar Sugar,” was back in action, and I really do love the feel of that car.

In the past Mid-Ohio has been very good to those of us at Cadillac Racing. We’ve won, and been on the podium – a lot. This weekend that wasn’t the case.

But when a driver or team can look back on an event, and say that we executed perfectly, we optimized everything, that we left our hearts and soul at the circuit, well then it allows you to be proud. Satisfied no, but definitely proud.

For race one we had qualified in sixth and with a good start were able to get up to fourth. We really didn’t have anything for the guys in front of us, and those behind kept the pressure on me the entire way.

There was a caution with about 20 minutes to go, which meant we might have had an opportunity to get by the Ferrari, but though we got close to taking a shot at Olivier Beretta, it wasn’t close enough. It was challenging on the restart with all of the pick-up that everyone had, and it was a lot of fun and a big challenge to race sliding around so much.

For race two we started in eighth position based on our fastest lap in race one. Again we got a good start, moved up to sixth and then on a restart gained another position to fifth, which was where we finished. It was a challenging race, and once again I was under big pressure the entire time.

Up front, well the Porsche of Ryan Dalziel and the Nissans were in another league. I don’t think anyone had anything for either of them, and the Ferrari is still a bit quicker than us. So we keep working.

Quick recognition of the job Michael Lewis did racing me in his No. 41 Porsche. The kid pushed me relentlessly, never made a mistake, and never got into me. It was like racing someone with years of experience how clean he was. Rare to find in young guys these days is patience, so I have a feeling he’s going to be very good.

Finally, there are five races left, next up is Miller. Fingers crossed the new car runs well there, and we can close the gap in the championship.

As always: Stay hungry, stay strong.

Johnny O'Connell (@JohnnyOConnell1) is a three-time American Le Mans Series champion and four-time class winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, driving for Team Cadillac in the Pirelli World Challenge.

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