Well the busiest weekend of the year is now complete, and thankfully everything went to plan this time. It’s always a stressful weekend with the race in Detroit on Saturday and the Le Mans Test Day on Sunday.
Detroit ranks as one of our most important races of the year. We obviously have the big endurance races as the key events, but for us as a team, and for Chevrolet, Detroit has the same level of importance for victory.
We race in the shadow of GM’s world headquarters. We can literally see their offices from the track and we always have the big guns watching us during the weekend.
The weekend didn’t start off so well for me personally. The day before traveling to Detroit I had some food poisoning and ended up missing my flight. Thankfully by Friday morning I was feeling pretty good for practice.
We’ve always run strong at Belle Isle. We’ve had two wins in 2013 and 2014 in Prototype, and I had a win in GT with the Autohaus Camaro in 2012.
Coming off our win earlier in the year in Long Beach, we knew another 100-minute race on a street course would suit our strengths.
We worked through a lot of changes through practice to get the car a bit more comfortable and competitive. Ricky did a great job to put our car P3 in qualifying.
We did some big changes to the car for qualifying and used it as a bit of a test session for the race. The car wasn’t ideal for him, but it gave us good direction for Saturday.
For race day, we knew what we had to do. It’s a tough place to pass, so we had to make the most of every opportunity we had.
Ricky made a great start and got by the No. 90 car into Turn 1. From there we kind of settled into second until the yellows started coming.
I got in the car during one of those yellows and we had one of those rare occasions where the Prototype wasn’t the first class leader the pace car picked up. So I was restarting second behind the 5 car, but we were still behind most of the GTD and PC field.
When we went green, the No. 5 car went to the inside for Turn 1 to try get by two battling PC cars. As I saw where he was putting his cards, I knew my only option was the outside.
Thankfully the PC guys decided to go defensive as well and gave me all the room in the world to go for it around the outside. I was able to get by all three of them by Turn 2 and the No. 5 car got boxed in.
It took some pressure off for the first few laps there under green, but another yellow followed. We went green with about thirty minutes to go and I knew it was going to be a long, stressful thirty minutes. The No. 5 car was pretty close for about twenty minutes until we hit traffic.
I knew if we were in clean air, I was comfortable to keep him behind. The problem when you get into traffic is that you have to keep one eye in front and the other behind if you start getting backed up in traffic.
We got boxed in a few times, but I think making an aggressive move into Turn 12 helped separate us. I knew if I could get a GTD car between us for Turns 1 and 2 I could get a decent gap.
We were able to get that gap with about five laps to go and we brought home our third Prototype win in four years at Detroit.
It also boosted us up into the championship lead, which is awesome after having two rough races earlier in the year.
As the checkered flag fell, the next race began, getting to the airport to fly to Le Mans. We were out of the track in about an hour and on a flight two hours later.
Ricky and I traveled over with some of the Michael Shank guys on a Delta flight to Paris, and then a chartered plane from Paris into Le Mans.
We got into Le Mans at 11 a.m., went through our safety checks and divers briefing over lunch and were on track by 3 p.m.
I got about ten laps in the car during the afternoon. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but around Le Mans that’s about 40 minutes.
It was enough to get comfortable and re-acquainted with the car and track. It’s tough when you only drive the car twice a year to get in and go, so it was worth the trip to get those ten laps.
The test day was over Sunday at 6 p.m., we were back to Paris by 10 p.m., and on a flight home at 8 a.m. Monday morning.
So in total, we were in France for about 23 hours. It’s nice to be home for a day or two before heading back for race week…
Especially so my Dog doesn’t forget who I am!