Each race weekend comes with some kind of pressure to produce good results; it’s just part of the job. When it’s at your home track and you’re leading the championship by three points, it’s a whole new story.
We’ve had an incredible season so far at Paul Miller Racing. The GTD class has been so competitive, and our team has really perfected our program to earn six podiums so far this year.
The Lamborghini Huracán GT3 that Bryan Sellers and I drive doesn’t have the outright speed of the other cars, but through strategy calls from the pit, and quick stops by our crew, we’ve been able to pull off some really strong results to bring us where we are now.
At each race, we’ve been able to set up our car to outperform the others over the course of a stint, and that’s been our biggest benefit this year.
After a podium at Daytona, we followed up that result with a win at Sebring, and have been in the GTD points lead since.
The No. 86 Meyer Shank Acura, originally an endurance race-only entry, has been close behind us all season long, and just committed to run the entirety of the season.
Every race has been an intense battle for every single point, and we entered Lime Rock Park with just a three-point lead.
With car dealerships all over New Jersey, Lime Rock Park is an important track for our team owner, Paul Miller. He reserved a block of tickets for his employees to come out and enjoy the event, and to have so many people personally involved with his company to be there to support us was such a great feeling.
We also had guests from TOTAL Lubricants, one of our primary sponsors. They’ve been such a strong supporter of us, bringing guests to almost every event this year.
We saw a potential issue in the opening practice and decided it would be the best time to do a motor swap on the No. 48 Lamborghini.
The guys did a great job, and we made it back out in time for practice three, which was shortened by a red flag.
We made the most of the minimal track time, but nowhere near as prepared as the other cars in our class. Bryan put in a final fast lap to put us in fourth place, which gave us several positions over the 86.
Staying ahead of the Acura is our constant goal. We thought we had a car to finish on the podium, but a win was nowhere near guaranteed.
There was hardly a free minute on race day. With warm up, qualifying, the autograph session and the race all in one day, the schedule was pretty packed. In addition to those sessions, we also had our pre-race strategy meeting, and a few of meet and greets back at the garage with our VIP guests.
They were so excited to come out and cheer us on, and it’s always important for Bryan and I to take a few minutes to show them our team.
It’s a little overwhelming to have such a full race day, but we just have to make the most of it. These people are here for us, and for them, it’s a rare experience to be a part of something like this.
Bryan started the race in fourth and gave me the car in a position where I was near the front and with nobody around.
While it’s nice to have clean air and have everyone behind you, there’s a lot of pressure when you’re handed the car like that. You’re always nervous, thinking about that one mistake.
At Lime Rock Park, it’s very easy to have an incident with a GTLM car or a lapped GTD car. My focus was to just keep my gap over the field, pushing every lap.
In the final laps, a slower car held me up while I was leading, allowing Andy Lally to close in. In the final 10 minutes or so, I finally got by and was able to bring the car to the finish in first.
It was a great feeling to win, and it was even better to do it at Lime Rock Park in front of all of Paul’s family, friends, and employees.
The Acura dropped from third to fourth in the final laps, which now gives us a ten point lead in the championship.
The season isn’t over yet, and the pressure to keep up this top-four streak is strong, but our guys have proven they can deliver. We just need to keep being consistent, and hopefully at the end of the year, we’ll be celebrating the end of 2018 as GTD champions.