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TAYLOR: Road America Debrief

Jordan Taylor files his latest Sportscar365 column…

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

Historically, Road America has not been a great track for us. Our main goal coming into this weekend was to get back into our rhythm. We started the season so strong, with five straight wins, but we’ve had a rough little run between Watkins Glen and Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

All we needed this weekend was a clean run. We know who we’re racing in the championship at this point, so our main goal was to gain points on those guys.

Classic Road America weather had everyone on their toes all weekend.

A wet first session and damp second session made Saturday very important to get the car sorted in the dry conditions. Thankfully our guys did their homework and we rolled off the truck really strong. We were P2 in the third practice and had a good direction on setup for qualifying.

We used qualifying as a bit of a test session, and it appeared we made some good decisions. Ricky was able to grab the pole by a healthy margin, his fourth of the year.

Race day had everyone checking their weather apps every five minutes. There were thunderstorms in the area popping up all around us. We could all see the dark clouds surrounding the track, so we were all just waiting for something to hit.

As we went green, Ricky was able to pull a gap on the field and control the race from there. He was saving fuel and managing the gap.

Track position and traffic management was going to be a huge piece in finishing well in the race. You could gain or lose three to four seconds if you caught someone in the wrong part of the track.

When it was time for me to jump in, we were about halfway through the race.

Our stint lengths are so short these days, that meant we still had potential for two more stops. It was the point of the race where you either keep your fuel saving strategy to do it on one more stop, or push to get a gap and commit to a full stop, plus a splash at the end.

Once the yellow fell for the BMW stopped at pit-in, it forced everyone’s hand to pit.

With no more yellow, it was still going to be tight for everyone to make it without a splash. The 85 was the only car that stayed out. They were most likely hoping that more GT cars stayed out during that pit stop cycle, so they could get build a gap before their final stop.

My main concern was the restart. We know where our strengths and weaknesses are on track, and this layout of a track and restart zone does not suit us. I felt like I had a strong restart and gapped the 22 car out of Turn 14 by about 5-6 car lengths, but he was able to get all the way alongside me by the time we got to Turn 1.

At this point, it was either fight him into the apex and risk touching, or not take the risk and go into championship mode.

We were in such a strong points position. The 5 car back in seventh, 31 car in fifth, and 85 still having to pit from the lead. Those are all the guys we’re really racing with, so I played it safe.

We had a couple more restarts, but there was no way to attack the 22, my main focus was to maintain my position. We were able to keep the 2 behind and finish second. It was a perfect day for the championship.

The hidden gem in not winning this race was that one of our lead mechanics, and the fastest driver changer in the paddock, Bill Mullen, will have to come back for another year. He has raced at Road America 31 times. It’s the only track that he has not had a win at.

Sorry Bill, but you’ll have to come back next year so we can seal the deal!

If you haven’t heard about our team tradition this year, we have been making temporary tattoos for each race.

Each weekend we pick a member of the team to design their tattoo, and Road America had to be Bill. He and his daughter came up with one of the best ones we’ve had all year, as you can see it below. Note the Wisconsin cheese in the hour glass.

We have a few weeks off until Laguna, a track that has been a strong one for us in the past, so we’re looking forward to it. See you guys there.

Jordan Taylor (@jordan10taylor) is a multi-time IMSA champion, driving for Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

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