As he starts from his fourth consecutive ST class pole position in as many Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge races this season, Justin Piscitell has been one of the stories of the season.
Perhaps the most noteworthy part of it is he’s had about three weeks combined notice that he’d even be driving in each of the four races.
With last-minute calls ahead of Daytona, where he filled in for Jeff Mosing in the No. 56 Murillo Racing entry with Eric Foss, and then Sebring and Monterey, alongside Christian Szymczak in the No. 34 Alara Racing Mazda MX-5, Piscitell has had to be ready at a moment’s notice, on race week.
At least ahead of today’s Continental Tire 150 at Watkins Glen, Piscitell had a full two weeks’ notice he’d be driving.
For the 26-year-old Patterson, N.Y. driver, being ready on call as the “super sub” has been his calling card this year, and something he’s had built in to his season planning.
“It’s exciting, the challenge of it,” Piscitell told Sportscar365. “You have to talk to the right people and figure out how to make it. You learn a bit about business.
“But it can be a bit frustrating. You want to start saying, ‘How does he get a ride and I don’t?’
“Realistically, the only way to be prepared is to get all of that stuff. Do your homework in case I do put a ride together, and then be prepared.”
Piscitell enters this weekend in an interesting situation. He’s currently third in ST class points, just nine behind the ST class leaders, but has no guarantees he’ll be driving beyond this weekend.
He has two podiums in three starts this season, finishing second with Foss in Daytona and third with Szymczak at Monterey. A win would hopefully enhance his hopes for the rest of the season.
As he heads into today’s almost certainly wet race at Watkins Glen, he’s optimistic his past wet track experience in MX-5 Cup cars will pay dividends.
“I’ve done minimal rain driving in an ST car, and a little bit in an MX-5 Cup car,” Piscitell said. “The Conti wet is a blast to drive on. I have driven on it twice. It really channels the water impressively well.
“So I’m not worried about tire or car, but it’s me being in the right place. With concrete patches and sealer patches, it helps to do a track walk at this place. You have to look out for them and avoid them. It will certainly be an exciting start to the race.”
Regardless of the rain, Piscitell is bullish on the MX-5’s chances at Watkins Glen, as it’s a mix of a flowing circuit albeit with some fast straights.
“We’ve seen MX-5s do well here in the past,” he said. “This is a track where an MX-5 can turn a good lap time.
“It’s harder to race here, from Turn 11 to the Bus Stop is more of a horsepower section of track. From the Bus Stop to Turn 11, it gets super technical. Lot of turns, elevations, undulations and that plays into our hands really well.
“If we can stay ahead for the corners on the back and not let them by on the esses to the Bus Stop, we have a fighting chance.”