It’s so easy in this business to focus on the negatives and to place all the premium on the result—in the end. It’s the only reason we’re here.
But when events occur like at Sebring, where we had to retire the car while running really well, it’s important to look at the positives.
No one is happy with the way it ended at all, it was super unfortunate that the damage earlier in the race eventually took us out with just a few hours to go.
The positive though, is that we put ourselves in a position to compete. Whether it was a win, second, third, we’ll never know because we weren’t there in the end, but we were in a position to compete and we competed at the highest level.
One of the big challenges for us that weekend was how poor we were at the beginning of the weekend.
We even went into morning warm up still trying to tune the race car. Usually at an endurance race like that during morning warm up you run through tire changes, maybe scrub a set of tires, do system checks, but for us, it was still very much race prep.
Even being done with morning warm up, we weren’t particularly happy and we were still making changes.
But, the trials we went through in Sebring really showed the resilience of the Paul Miller Racing team and how much trust between the engineers and the drivers and our abilities to relay information to each other and adjust accordingly.
But now we have a long break, and that makes this a really difficult portion of the season.
If you leave Sebring, like we did, in an undesirable place, it feels even longer. With the small allotment of test days, there’s not much we can do.
We could go to Mid-Ohio and test right now, but Mid-Ohio is a very specific track and we wouldn’t learn a lot that’s applicable for the rest of the season. We could go back to Sebring and test, but we just spent multiple days there on the race weekend.
So we’re kind of in a dead period of waiting, that’s the hardest part. There’s some unfinished business and we’re not where we want to be, and you always want to do something about it, but you just can’t!
So, instead the emphasis gets put on preparation for the remainder of the season. Making sure that the guys have everything they need to do to be prepared at the shop, so they’re running through pit stop practices and damage control and those scenarios.
And for the drivers, we have to make sure we’re prepared as much as possible in terms of both physical fitness levels and mental fitness levels. This portion of the season is really what I find to be the most difficult.
I’ve been doing a lot of driver coaching in the interim, and as much as it helps the people I’m coaching, it’s also been a big help for me. It keeps your mind sharp, and that’s a really big thing. I also just really enjoy doing it.
I do most of my coaching with Goldcrest Motorsports in Carrera Cup cars, and for me it’s a really cool environment. There’s a lot of people involved in the sport that love cars, they love racing, they’re avid watchers, and not only do you get to spend time with these people and try to make them better drivers, but it gives me a chance to share what I love to do.
I get to share the inner workings of what I get to do with these people, and you form a lot of friendships and long-lasting relationships. It sounds incredibly cliche, but when you get to go the race track and have fun and genuinely enjoy it, it makes all of the traveling and hassles worth it.
I really look forward to coaching days because I always enjoy it. So, while it’s good to stay mentally sharp, it’s good to drive different cars, but I just enjoy the personal aspect of it more than anything, and that’s made this long break before Mid-Ohio better.
That being said, especially as someone from Ohio, I cannot wait until May and to get back in our Paul Miller Racing car at Mid-Ohio.
Mid-Ohio is a pretty cool place for me because in years previous I’ve been able to have a lot of family friends and family attend the event. I’ve had success there over the years, podiums, a couple wins, and getting to share those moments with the people that were there from the beginning. It’s really rewarding I would say.
You just always get this sense of accomplishment that the people that helped you early on, the people that were a part of your career early on, the supporters that were there when they were the only ones supporting you, they finally get to be repaid a little bit also. They get to feel the same thing that I get to feel and the team gets to feel about the success.
You finally get to give something back for their emotional investment over the years.