With each passing race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship our Change Racing team continues to improve.
Until last weekend our best finish was 6th at Detroit. We have shown good speed this season, especially in the races, but either from miscues or bad luck we haven’t had the result I know we are capable of.
At the midway point in the season this starts to get really frustrating. Great team and great car, no results.
So last weekend we headed North of the border determined to bring our “eh” game. (I know, I know, I recycle that joke every year).
Mosport is one hell of a race track. It’s always a favorite among drivers because it’s, with one exception, all high speed, all the time.
The track has seen many improvements over the years but despite all the upgrades it retains it’s original feel. Mix in some of the best fans anywhere and you can understand why it’s a stop we look forward to.
In practice we had a very good car right off the hauler. This was very encouraging until I got out of the car and saw the time sheet. We were in the hunt with everyone, everyone except the 44 car. Andy was in his own time zone.
To make matters worse, my co-driver Corey Lewis kept getting robbed of dry track time due to red flags and intermittent rain throughout the day on Friday and Saturday. He really only had one flying dry lap before the morning warm up.
Because of this we decided that I would qualify. That also meant that I had to start the race, something I’m not used to doing.
Corey would have to study all my video and data, then put it all together in the warmup. That’s no easy task at a track as fast and daunting as Mosport.
I as able to qualify third. It was our best starting spot of the season but still not where I thought we could be. The start was uneventful for me on track but I came away with new perspective.
I never realized how much of a disadvantage the starting drivers have given the rule that they must start on their qualifying tires.
Not only do they never get stickers in the race but they have to take the tires deeper into their life cycles. In the last laps of my stint I was simply trying to hang on! The closers sure do have it easier.
Corey got in after our first tank of fuel ran out and he did a brilliant job of holding pace. For not having many laps before the green I was really impressed by his driving.
We came out of the pits in 4th and held onto the front of the field for the next green segment.
Here’s where luck can come into play. Going in we knew our strategy could yield good results with long green flag runs, mixed results with the typical yellow or two, or some vulnerabilities.
Because Corey had to run to his minimum drive time, a yellow right before that point would allow other teams to pit while we couldn’t.
We knew this going in but figured the odds against a yellow at any given time were better then for so we went with it. Sure enough the 23 car was singing that song (“You picked a fine time to leave me loose wheel“), and we were yellow.
The field pitted, we waited because we had to, and then we stopped later under green. Now, despite a great run we were back to 9th.
I got back in for the run to the checker and what a blast that was. I was able to pick up a few spots and then run down the 44 and 73 who were battling for 5th.
This felt good because for a lap in practice we couldn’t match the 44s pace but in the race we were able to run with anyone. It also put me in a good position to watch the inevitable fireworks.
There was a lot of bobbing and weaving, rubbing and riding, and plenty of creative lines between the two. It all came to a head when Andy got a run on Joerg [Bergmeister] out of Turn 2.
Joerg went defensive forcing Andy to the trailer park girl line, but when he hit the brakes on the slippery inside he slid up into Andy’s grove and sent him spinning. I was able to sneak by both to move up. Sometimes the best seat really is the driver’s seat.
In the closing laps I was able to get to the bumper of the Ferrari for P4 but the yellow came out before I could make a move and that was the day.
Once again it was a great effort with a great team. It was our best finish of the year so far but I can’t help think that a little more luck may have put us on the podium.
We are getting closer.