IMSA Spotlight: Alex Popow
Driver: No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Oreca FLM09
You’ve been knocking on the door for a win for awhile and you finally knocked it down. How gratifying is that?
“It’s really, really good. We need it. We’re fighting for this championship, and this was the moment. This was a good track for us last year and we got a fast car out of the truck.
“It was a crazy race, but at the end it paid off. Renger [van der Zande] was really fast at the end, the car was great, and we were able to make it.”
To have a win, especially when some of your championship rivals had problems, does that make this result extra important?
“Yes, exactly. Robert Alon and Tom Kimber-Smith got third, and Misha [Goikhberg] had some bad luck with a car that spun in front of him. But they did a crazy-awesome job, got a new tub, and changed the whole car.
“It’s good for them in the championship that they don’t get a zero, but we are in the lead by a few points. It’s good. From now on we’re going to fight for the championship.”
As you were watching that final stint when Renger was chasing down Colin Braun, what were you thinking?
“Every lap, our car was getting faster. Every lap Renger was getting a tenth or two-tenths faster, and Colin got to the point where he was not able to go. We could see on the TV that he was burning off his rear tires. He couldn’t get faster, and Renger was getting faster and faster. We actually set the fastest lap of the race, so it was good.”
You always hear about how bumpy this track at Belle Isle is. Can you describe it for someone who hasn’t driven it?
“It’s crazy! You have to hold the wheel really hard for the whole track. You don’t have any time under green to take your hands off of the wheel because you can lose the car anywhere. Even grabbing the steering wheel as hard as you can on the straights sometimes the car jumps and lands a little sideways and almost takes the steering out of your hands.
“This is a place that you can’t make a little mistake because there’s walls all around. And now I’m going for a massage and some pain killers for my neck!”
You’ve been racing quite a bit in recent years. If you could take one track from anywhere in the world that’s not on the IMSA schedule and add it in, what would it be?
“Wow, that’s a tough one! One of the tracks that I really like is Dubai. It’s not one of the big tracks, but I like Dubai. Mugello in Italy is a fun track. But I love Watkins Glen, and we’re going there [next] so it’s good!”