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SELLERS: Road Atlanta Rewind; Endurance Cup Title Focus

Bryan Sellers files his latest column after more Endurance Cup points on the board…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

We had a pair of Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta races and one went very well, and the other, not so well. So I suppose we should start with the one that was good.

The first Road Atlanta, the six-hour, was very good. It’s been a track, historically, that’s been a little bit up and down for us.

It’s really a mixed bag and you’re not really sure what you’re going to get. But, we felt really strong as soon as we got off the truck there and our goal has been, and is, significantly different than anything we’ve ever done before as a team.

The thing that matters the most for us has been trying to score points for the endurance championship, so our strategy was pretty different from what it normally is.

Luckily, we had a really strong race car and we were able to execute the way we wanted. Our strategy worked and it put us in a good place for a lot of points towards the Michelin Endurance Cup.

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

It definitely becomes easier to achieve that when the race car is good. It makes it easier to take advantage of different scenarios when you feel like the car is strong, you have good balance, and good speed—and that’s how we were in the six-hour and our second place finish and the points we collected definitely showed that.

And then you transition into the ten-hour, to Petit Le Mans, and it’s different.

For whatever reason, and it wasn’t really a team thing so much as a speed thing, we just weren’t fast enough. Magnus scored a very good result, but it wasn’t necessarily based on speed, they executed extremely well during that race and were able to score a podium for Lamborghini.

That’s what we’ve done really well in the past, but at Petit we just stuttered a little bit, got a little bit behind with the strategy calls and the way the yellows fell.

But, at the end of the day, compared to the six-hour a lot of cars showed a lot more speed. That was, to be honest, a bit of a surprise!

I want to make it abundantly clear that I don’t think it’s from BoP, we just didn’t have enough. From one Michelin Raceway weekend to the next, some people fixed some issues that led to more speed for them, and the much cooler temperatures at Petit may have benefitted them more. It’s difficult to tell why we were strong in one and all the sudden not in the other.

Photo: Paul Miller Racing

One of the biggest struggles for us has been the S9 tire, it’s just a harder tire than the S8 and so we have a hard time generating tire temp and, subsequently, lateral grip. I think we had a car that was balanced pretty well, and I think we were happy with the balance, however, with the really cold temperatures, it just didn’t produce a lot of lateral grip and that translated to not having as much pace.

But the good news from Petit Le Mans is that it has put us in a really good position for the Michelin Endurance Cup and Lamborghini was able to clinch the Manufacturers Endurance Cup championship—becoming the first carmaker to do so before the final round of the year.

It’s really cool to be a part of that success for Lamborghini, they’ve definitely made their mark in GTD. It’s been a really good partnership to date, and we’ve been beneficial to each other.

They’ve helped us a lot in our success—Sebring 2018, the championship that year, Daytona this year, especially—and I think we’ve helped them a lot in theirs with two overall Manufacturers titles and now the Michelin Endurance Cup.

For Lamborghini, it’s definitely well-deserved bragging rights for them, especially to win it before Sebring. It’s something that is very cool and I’m very proud to be a part of.

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

For us and our own quest for the Michelin Endurance Cup, I’m trying not to get too far ahead of ourselves.

The last time we were there in Sebring with Madison and Corey and in a red Total-backed Lamborghini in 2018 we won the race, so I think we’re all excited to go back and hopefully do that well again.

But, as Petit showed, we can’t get too complacent. We do have a strong lead in that points chase, and we’re a strong program, and we’re confident that Sebring will be different than Petit, but for right now I want to focus on the right now as opposed to looking too far ahead.

The goal is to produce a good result at Sebring and that should be enough to net us the Michelin Endurance Cup.

Bryan Sellers (@BryanSellers) is one of America's leading GT racers, driving the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

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