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RAYHALL: COTA Debrief

8Star’s Sean Rayhall files his latest Sportscar365 column…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

Hello from a busy week back home in North Carolina after a picture perfect weekend at Circuit of The Americas. It’s pretty big for us to get a win there and make it two in a row.

This event was even more special for my teammate Luis Diaz. His family came to the first race in awhile and all of our sponsors from Mexico came along as well so we had quite the support group under our tent.

Practice went alright for us. We were lacking a small bit of pace but with all the rain it was difficult to get a solid read on which way to go. So, we took a big risk going into qualifying.

Qualifying was shortened due to an early wreck on the out lap by one of the cars, which gave us only three laps. I knew cold tires or not we had to push out of the pits otherwise we might come up short.

Sure enough this huge change Yves [engineer] made to the car gave me a perfect car to qualify with. It was amazing, thoroughly hooked up and we were able to put it on the pole by six-tenths of a second which is mega. That one was for sure done by the guys in the timing stand, car was perfect.

The race had been going to plan. Luis had a nice lead before pitting for a driver change where my ear plugs came unplugged. So we came in leading and went out in 4th position which meant I had my hands full.

I pushed super aggressively through traffic in order to make the gap up and eventually got myself back into the lead for two corners before getting spun out. I was pretty heated at this point of the race but Gary Neal [team manager] calmed me down nicely on the radio for us to push back up to the lead.

After getting back into the lead it was a fuel mileage game between us and the CORE car which were 1-2 at the time.

Lucky for us, it went caution free and we just had to manage our gap for the last 50 minutes of the event.

This win was amazing. The guys have been deserving these results since Mazda Raceway earlier this year, things just haven’t went out way until these past two events.

The TOTAL Pole award, fast lap of the race, and to win the Lone Star Le Mans at COTA makes for a picture perfect weekend for my 8Star Motorsports crew. I am beyond proud of my guys and to be a part of this effort with such great people.

Sean Rayhall (@SeanRayhall) is the 2013 Cooper Tires IMSA Prototype Lites champion, driving for 8Star Motorsports in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

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