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Church: Watkins Glen Win “Redemption” After Near Misses

John Church says JDC-Miller’s breakthrough win provides redemption…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

JDC-Miller Motorsports team principal John Church says he felt a sense of redemption after his team broke through for its first overall IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship win at Watkins Glen.

Stephen Simpson, Misha Goikhberg, and Chris Miller teamed to score the breakthrough win for the No. 99 Gainsco-sponsored “Red Dragon” Oreca 07 Gibson, one year after a near-miss at the same circuit.

The Minnesota-based team has formed a close bond, and Church said that getting the victory with this group made it all the more sweet.

“It’s super special,” Church told Sportscar365. “It’s awesome to finally get a win. It’s our first one so it’s an amazing feeling for sure.

“It was a little bit deja vu there at the end where we were thinking that we weren’t going to let it get away this time.

“Redemption would be a good way to put it. It’s great for so many people and it helps everything a great deal. We’re super excited.

“We’ve had the same driver pairing now for the last four or five years. It’s a real tight-knit group.

“The guys are so good at helping each other out. When one guy has a down day the other steps up, and vice versa.

“They’re so supportive of each other. It’s really special to get that win with these guys after building the relationship that everybody has. It’s a special win.”

Just like it was last year, Simpson was behind the wheel for the decisive final stint.

Church said his gut told him Simpson’s daring three-wide pass of Jordan Taylor and Juan Pablo Montoya would be the decisive move of the race.

“Watching the pass, I was thinking: that was the pass for the win,” he said.

“Track position was key on Sunday, and when he made that pass I figured at that point we were in good shape as long as there weren’t any more yellows.

“I was confident that Stephen would do whatever it takes to keep that car up front.”

The win was just the second in IMSA’s combined LMP2/DPi Prototype category for LMP2 machinery after Spirit of Daytona’s triumph at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca last year.

Church indicated that upcoming races could provide more opportunities to score strong results.

“We had a really good run last year at [Canadian Tire Motorsport Park],” he said. “Mikhail is very quick there. I’d like to think we can be in the mix.

“Elkhart Lake should be another reasonable track for the P2 cars. I think we have a couple coming here that should be decent.

“The class is so competitive right now, it’s so much more than a car that’s suited one way or another. You’ve got to have the whole package.

“Everybody has to be on their A-game on race day, minimize mistakes, and then the best you can hope for is to maybe shoot for a top five. If a few things go your way, you might get a little more.”

Ryan Myrehn is an Indianapolis-based journalist and sportscaster, covering IMSA and Pirelli World Challenge. Myrehn, a graduate of DePauw University, is also the host of Sportscar365's “Double Stint” Podcast.

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