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O’CONNELL: Mid-Ohio Debrief

Johnny O’Connell files his latest Sportscar365 column…

Photo: Brian Cleary/

Photo: Brian Cleary/

Bad luck. Every team has some during a season Needless to say after cutting a tire at Lime Rock and suffering through both races at Road America with an electrical issue, I was hoping all our bad luck was behind us.

Showing up at Mid-Ohio, I found myself coming down with the flu and was worried that our bad luck might continue, as I was feeling pretty bad.

Luckily I got some help from the track doctor at the circuit and was able to push through what turned out to be a pretty decent weekend for Cadillac Racing.You have to love those track doctors.Thanks to them for all they do.

Mid-Ohio is a circuit we knew would favor the McLaren as well as the Porsche. In qualifying, at least the McLaren proved us correct as they were all flying.

It was cool to see the GAINSCO guys going fast; they are good for our sport. I was disappointed to wind up ninth with a car that was working really well.

My teammate Michael Cooper lined up tenth just a tick off of us.

As usual the start was critical and I was lucky to get a few positions in the first turn with the chaos that went on. We immediately got a full course caution.

On the restart I was able to move into sixth, which I held for the majority of the race. The circuit for race one was unreal slippery, but it was fun to push hard.

With positions for Race 2 determined by the fast lap of race one and the circuit getting better each lap I was disappointed to run up on traffic on my last lap.

As things were we had the fifth quickest lap so we would have an improved starting position for Race 2.

My teammate Michael did a great job getting P2 on his fast lap and I knew he would be in a great position for the second race.

In the second race, I again had a good start and moved to P3. Going into Turn 5, running an outside line behind Parente (Alvaro, No. 9 McLaren) he had a big understeer and had to lift forcing me to check up, which allowed Eversley (Ryan, No. 43 Acura), who must have had an unreal start, to zip down the hill into Turn 6 and get position on me.

Michael, meanwhile, had taken the lead and I watched as Eversley chased after him, while I was pursuing Parente.

For the first several laps I had a very strong Brian Heitkotter (No. 05 Nissan) on me and several times had to fight him off going into Turn 4. That forced me to lose a little ground to Parente.

With about 15 minutes to go, Alvaro finally decided to show what his car could do, and immediately began closing the gap to Michael and Ryan, while I held about the same gap.

We got a bit of a break when slower traffic forced Parente into the grass, and he had to pit to clean his grill.

That gave us P3, which is how we wound up finishing.

Michael went on to get the win. So for sure a great second race for Cadillac.

It’s always good when you can fight to the front, and this weekend we executed both on and off the track really well.

So with five races remaining we move on to Salt Lake City and the Utah Motorsports Campus. It’s one of my favorite circuits that we go visit.

We still find ourselves a ways back in the championship, but still anything is possible, and I’m hungry to get there to try and repeat what we did last season.

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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