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O’CONNELL: Road America Debrief

Johnny O’Connell files latest Sportscar365 column after Road America…

Photo: Cadillac Racing

Photo: Cadillac Racing

I had a tough triple at Road America. The Pirelli World Challenge brass decided to add a third race to the Road America weekend to make-up for the cancelled race at Detroit earlier in the month.

Usually I would look forward to running three races at one of my favorite tracks, but not so much last weekend.

We knew from the very first practice on Thursday at Road America that it was going to be a long weekend. No matter how good we could get our Cadillac ATS-V.R to handle, we were not going to make-up the ground from three long straight away sections to our competition.

My teammate Andy Pilgrim and I were getting pulled by as much as 10 car lengths from the exit of Turn 14 down to the entry of Turn 1. It is tough to race like that at a place like Road America.

I started race one and two from 12th on the grid. I didn’t get a very good start and came around for Lap 1 in 19th position. Keeping my focus, I was able to race back up to eighth at the finish.

I was lucky as two of the drivers that I am in points battles with had difficulty; Kevin Estre had a flat tire on his McLaren and so did Ryan Dalziel in his Porsche. So I didn’t take a huge hit in points.

Race two was pretty much the same story. I was able to get a better start and improved my position, then the race went immediately yellow.

On the restart the guys behind me hung way back and were able to get a big run on my Cadillac ATS-V.R when the green flag waved. We talked about that in the driver’s meeting, but maybe not everyone was listening.

I was happy with the No. 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R. We improved it from Friday. You don’t have to work for NASA to see that the top speeds of the cars are way off.

I was happy with the way I drove. I had a good battle going with Kevin Estre in the McLaren, but he had to pit. It was tough to make any passes stick on the top cars with our lower top speeds down the straights.

In race three, I was able to get a good start and then the track was blocked in front of me. I had to come to a complete stop and stuff my six-foot wide ATS-V.R through a five-and-a-foot hole up against the wall and keep going.

Again, a first lap yellow flew. Like the first two races I had some luck with the guys I am battling in the points with and they had some trouble so I didn’t fare too bad.

As for results on the weekend, there was not too much to boost my resume with two eighth place finishes and a seventh. Sometimes you race harder in the races that you do not win than in the ones that you do, and this was one of those weekends.

Cadillac Racing is made up of a lot of competitive people and we are hungry for results. On to Mid-Ohio at the end of the month.

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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