The last column I did was before Road America, and man that was a difficult race. We had a good car — and I think we had decent speed — but the reality is that we didn’t have a car that was much better than fourth place.
You’re starting to get into that point in the year where the championship is coming into view, other teams are starting to stack up multiple wins, and unless you can start to put a win or two on the board, it’s going to be hard to win the championship—fourth place just isn’t going to cut it in IMSA right now.
So, we made the choice to gamble on strategy and hope for a yellow—because for us, there is no points racing right now.
The points are going to come from going all out, that’s really what you have to do in this championship right now. There is really no downside to gambling for us right now, even though it didn’t pan out how we wanted in Road America.
Laguna was kind of the exact opposite from Road America! You go into the race with a very similar mindset, that we knew we had a good car—but we had a feeling it wasn’t quite strong enough to run down some of the quicker guys.
So our options were to do the exact same thing, strategy-wise, as everyone else and run third, fourth or fifth, or try to do something even just a little bit different and see if we can make up positions.
We ended up second, we took a good shot at it, and I think our strategy was the best of anybody’s. That No. 9 car was just too strong to overcome! Some days you just have to look at your competition and give them the accolades for what they did, and so props to the Pfaff guys.
They really made that car work over the long runs, Robichon drove a great first stint, and then Vanthoor had—as expected—two strong final stints. It was still a really great result for our team, and we’re happy with it! But, we still need to find a way to get that last little bit that we’re missing in these last three races of the year.
I try not to pay too much attention to the championship run because I think it takes our focus too far in the wrong direction.
We still have to go into these last three races and give it our all. I know we’re in fourth, I know we’re in striking distance, and that’s exciting — but it doesn’t change what we have to do.
We absolutely have to beat those three other race cars, and that’s proven to be a pretty damn hard task so far this year.
Our next chance to do that is Long Beach, and Long Beach is great. I don’t think you’ll find any driver that says they don’t like Long Beach. It’s such a great event—it has history, it has prestige, it’s a great layout with good flow, it’s technical but also fast—it’s just an event you want to deliver at.
When you get there and you feel the enormity of that event and that crowd, it’s so powerful. It’s a place that I’ve been fortunate enough to be on the podium at before, but a win has always eluded me there and I want it so bad.
And then we have VIR, which is another race I think everyone in the series loves.
What Kerrigan [Smith] and Connie [Nyholm] and their whole team do there is so impressive and unique. They involve teams and fans and drivers in their event in ways that no other circuit does, and that makes the experience really special.
You take this beautiful setting, an incredible race track, and fantastic people, it’s just something magical. Plus, we all love a GT-only race! But, it’s a hard race, you can’t take anything for granted there.
We hope this year we are good there, I think we were last year, but it’s a place where you can’t expect anything.
I’m really excited for the final part of this year. The racing has been so good, and the level of competition is so high in IMSA right now.
Even if we don’t win the championship—it’s been a fun season in the car, and hopefully the fans are enjoying it as well!