IMSA Spotlight: Owen Trinkler
Driver: No. 44 CRG-I Do Borrow Nissan Altima
What is the atmosphere around the team following a competitive 5th place result at Daytona?
“We obviously were running second and had a late race penalty for the wrong fire socks for one of our tire changers, but I think the attitude of the team is very good.
“I think we left a podium or possibly a win on the table, but we’re a small team and I think this team has always been a ‘you win together, you lose together’ type of deal.
“Instead of pointing fingers, we’re going to rally behind each other and support each other and try to make a positive out of this.
“I won’t say motivation, because we’re always motivated going to the track, but when you let one slip through your hands like that, you want to reward your team even more.
“I think the attitude of the team has been positive. It’s a good points day and we’ve got a place that we know very well coming up [at Sebring].”
How much can you learn from the weekend at Daytona given that the track is so different from the circuits that are still on the schedule?
“We look at Daytona as a one-off deal. For the first tie in over 20 years that I’ve been in the series we didn’t do the pre-season test, which is not mandatory for Continental [Tire SportsCar Challenge].
“We made that decision towards the end of the year last year. We felt that if we’re going to go test over the winter, then let’s go back to Sebring and run there.
“You see some of the biggest manufacturers in the world with their LMP1 programs and any prototype program, they choose to go there.
“That’s where we made the choice to spend that money and go back to Sebring, work on a shock package, and get ready for the race in March.”
What are the team’s plans between now and Sebring? Is there any testing planned?
“Right now, we’ll kind of stick to what we did last year and we won’t test at all between now and Sebring. We are probably going to do an April test at VIR in the Spring.
“That seemed to work pretty good. We did that a couple of times last year. I don’t know if we’ll make that many trips back to VIR, but I know we’ll make at least one in April after the Sebring race.
“I think we did enough testing at Sebring before Daytona so we felt that we have enough information to take out of there for when we go back in March, and we’ll be ready to go.”
How much development went into the car in the offseason? Is it close to what you finished the year with or were you able to make some changes?
“The biggest thing that we worked on, ever since the Road America mechanical failure in the gearbox [last year] is that we’ve gone back and reevaluated that situation.
“We’ve now brought that in house. The gearbox is the weakest link in the Nissan Altima.
“It was a third party company doing it. It wasn’t really their fault, but let’s say we wanted to control more of the internals in the gearbox and what was really going on with it as far as the parts and pieces.
“So that’s probably been the biggest change for us ever since that Road America race and the guys did an awesome job building the box that we ran at Daytona.
“We were a little skeptical going into Daytona with four hours [of racing], but the car just barely made it through. We started to have a little bit of a gearbox issue on the last lap, so the timing was just perfect.
“That’s been the biggest change for us. There’s been no real development, it’s just been about getting reliability better. We debuted this car at Watkins Glen last year in the middle of the season.
“We thought we had our hands around it, and I guess to a degree you always feel that way, but until you go race it in competition, in anger, that’s when you start to learn more about the car and what it needs as far as reliability issues.
“We learned a lot last year and obviously got the win at Mosport, but we learned a lot in the five races after that on what we need to do this year to actually contend for the championship.”
What do you think about TCR regulations coming to IMSA and the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series?
“I’ve got a little bit of an eye on it. We’re starting to pay attention to it a little bit more as we get into the season. It’s something in the offseason that I really did not pay attention to.
“The biggest thing is, the cars look really cool. I hope I get the opportunity to drive one at some point.
“The biggest thing I think for TCR is that all of the manufacturers that are in play right now in ST, I hope, can survive and be in TCR, whether it’s front drive or rear drive cars.
“I think that’s what’s so appealing to this series. Look at the variety of cars. You’ve got the top five finish at Daytona and how many different manufacturers were involved in that.
“I know we’re a little bit down on car count in ST, but the quality of cars and drivers there in ST is really, really good.”