Coming off our disappointing weekend in Watkins Glen, we were looking for a bit of redemption in Canada. Being 20 points back in the championship, there is no reason to race conservatively for points; it’s all about race wins.
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, formerly known as Mosport, was our next stop on the schedule. Definitely one of the coolest tracks we have in North America, super fast, great flow, and no room for error.
We rolled off the truck pretty strong. We were in the top-three in most of the practice sessions. Ricky was up to qualify this weekend and got his second pole of the year.
It was going to be a very tough race though. Everyone was very close in lap time, and traffic was going to play a big part in the outcome of the race.
Ricky took the green and was able to pull a comfortable two-second gap on the field, but about 15 minutes into the race, he began having power steering issues. The steering was locking under high load, and around this track, that’s pretty much every corner.
As Ricky said, “Arnold Schwarzenegger couldn’t turn that steering wheel.”
He had to compromise his driving a bit to get it to the first pit stop, but made it to the first yellow.
For some reason, after I jumped in during the stop, the power steering issue seemed to fix itself, or it would have been a seriously long day.
We restarted back in P5. When we got going I realized how hard it was going to be to get around anyone. With all the high speed corners, it makes it tough to follow a car close with all the dirty air, so most of the passing would have to come in traffic.
We were able to jump up to P4 during the next stop, getting around the 90 car. This whole stint was pretty much on my own, which is always a bit weird. You have the team telling you the gaps of the guys in front and behind, but you’re basically just doing laps by yourself.
The next stop was our ‘get home’ stop, and this is really where our race changed. We pitted with about 45 minutes to top us off to get to the end, but only took two tires. We came out and it was going to be a sprint to the finish.
The scenario at this point was that we were P4, closing on the 60, the 5 was out front on the same strategy, and the 31 still had one more stop.
The 60 car was struggling with power steering, so we knew we had to get by him as quick as possible to minimize the time loss to the 31. He got pushed wide while lapping the DeltaWing and I was able to get him in Turn 5, putting us up to P3.
At this point, I was thrilled to think we were in a podium position. After restarting P5 and seeing how tough it was to get by guys, I wasn’t too confident.
Still lapping by myself, I hear on the radio, “The 5 car is in the pits, keep pushing.” Now we’re P2, and the 31 has one more stop. We had to stay within striking distance to make sure we could beat them out of the pits. I’m told, “We need three qualifying laps, the 31 will be in soon.”
With eight minutes to go, they came in for their final stop and came out about two seconds behind us. They had been the quicker car during the race, so I knew those final six-seven laps were going to be pretty intense.
I knew if traffic didn’t hurt us too much, it was going to be tough for him to get close enough to make a move. We held a steady gap of about a second and a half for the next five laps.
With two laps to go, I hit PC traffic. The PC cars were only about a second off with a good driver. I caught him right in the middle of Turn 2 and the 31 was able to get within a second.
The main thing I was focusing on was getting a good run out of Turn 5. Heading out of there was the only real passing zone. Once I left there on the final lap and we had a gap, I knew we were safe.
It was one of the more exciting wins we’ve had. For us, this race was all about strategy and executing everything perfectly. Every other team had a mistake in the race that kept them out of victory lane. This was a true team victory.
We had over 100 guests from Konica Minolta and DLL this weekend. I knew some of them were camping out in Turn 3 during the weekend, so on the cool down lap after the race I was sure to stop in front of them to give them a wave and a burnout.
Unfortunately, I forgot to turn traction control off… so hopefully we can do it again in Road America in a few weeks for burnout redemption.