Going to the 12 Hours of Sebring this year had a different feel than in the past few years. It was just like the old days of sports car racing, where everyone goes from the 24 Hours of Daytona to another endurance classic in Sebring. It’s nice to have both of these races back on the same calendar.
This weekend was especially exciting for our family, as my dad was being inducted into the Sebring Hall Of Fame. Most people these days see my dad as a team owner and business man, finding the sponsors and making the race team function.
It was really nice to see him recognized for what he is truly proud of, his career behind the wheel, doing what he loved to do. He had a massively successful career in sports car racing, winning the 24 Hours of Daytona twice, 12 Hours of Sebring, Petit Le Mans, Le Mans in class, and three major sports car championships.
It was amazing to see him up there accepting the award, joining the likes of Vic Elford, Hurley Haywood, Stirling Moss, and more. Unfortunately that just gives him one more bragging right in the house!
For the race weekend, it was a rough one for us. We came away from the official test a few weeks ago knowing that we had some work to do to get back on pace with everyone. Ricky did an awesome job in qualifying, putting us P3. I don’t think anybody on the team expected us to be that high.
Race day was much warmer than what he had during the week, and the Sebring surface is very temperature sensitive. Once the track warmed up, it became pretty greasy and you could see all the cars sliding around.
It was one of the toughest races I’ve done in a while; the car was always on edge and very easy to make a mistake. We definitely didn’t have the pace of the front-running cars, but when we had track position, we could hold guys off.
During my first stint in the car I had a pretty good battle going with Simon Pagenaud. It was pretty interesting to get a good idea of the balance between DP and P2 cars. I was behind him for the majority of the stint, but was able to get by in the final few laps with some help from traffic.
When I came back out of the pits to start the double stint I had him right back behind me again and we were closer to the 02. I came around T16 on the out lap and saw someone trying to do a donut to get their car turned back around, but did so by flicking the car right into the racing line.
There was an PC car right in front of me that had nowhere to go. I saw them hit, the car that made the hit speared off to the right and the other car got spun around into my path. My instinct (just like Daytona when I avoided a spinning DP) was to go for the grass. There wasn’t much time to react; we’re doing about 80 mph there.
This set us back in the race, as we had to pit to clear off the radiator and lost all the track position that we had just gained after having a pit lane penalty.
We battled back for the next few hours and got back up to P3, but then when Ricky got in for the final stint, someone was dropping oil.
It got all over the windshield and Ricky had to pit off strategy to get it all cleaned off.
We ended up 7th, which wasn’t great, but we’re still 2nd in the championship and we have a long way to go.