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Spencer Pumpelly files his latest Sportscar365 column…

Photo: John Thawley/IMSA

Photo: John Thawley/IMSA

After visiting VIR, my favorite track on the circuit, this week we came into COTA and the only thing that remained the same was the unbearable heat.

The track is tight, forcing us to use first gear 7 times. Think about that. It’s nothing like the open flowing challenge of VIR.

COTA is a patience game. The U turns are so slow that there is little risk of an error leading to a crash. Combine this with runoff areas that are huge and paved right up to the edge of the track and the only tough part is reigning yourself in.

It’s easy to go too deep and slide too wide. Going fast requires patience and discipline. It’s not the style of driving I find most compelling but as a driver in IMSA you have to be able to adapt to lots of different challenges.

We arrived with high hopes after setting the fastest race lap at VIR and matching our best finish of the season. Yet once we were on track we struggled to keep the pace of some of the other manufacturers, the Vipers and BMWs in particular.

Corey started and reported that he got hit from behind early in the race. His pace had been great all weekend but he was having trouble staying ahead of some of the drivers he is routinely faster than.

When I got in I never saw another GTD car the entire time I was out there. The car felt good but I too was off a tick the pace.

After sweating it out driving around by myself we came home in P9.

After the race we took a look at the car and saw the left exhaust pipe had been completely caved in thanks to the early contact Corey had.

Clearly this was what was holding us back pace wise and the timing data from IMSA confirmed it.

Another tough break for a team that has been waiting all year for a good one.

Luckily there was a bar or two in town to go commiserate in, and even luckier was the fact that there was plenary of air conditioning to go around.

Petit Le Mans is up next and it has been good to me. I think it will suit our car well too. Here’s to ending on a high note.

Spencer Pumpelly (@SpencerPumpelly) is one of America's leading GT racers, driving for Change Racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Rennsport One in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.

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