Mario Farnbacher feels that he and Matt McMurry are “back in the game” after breaking a three-race bad luck streak with a commanding GT Daytona class victory Sunday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
The Meyer Shank Racing duo earned their second IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship class win of the season in the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 Evo, capitalizing on a challenging race for AIM Vasser Sullivan to retake the points lead.
Farnbacher and McMurry now hold a seven-point margin over Wright Motorsports’ Patrick Long and Ryan Hardwick in the standings heading into next month’s season-ending Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Aaron Telitz, who entered Sunday’s penultimate race of the season, has dropped to third in the standings, eight points back from the Acura pairing.
“We had three frustrating races in a row with Mid-Ohio, Charlotte and Atlanta,” said Farnbacher.
“To come back like this means a lot. We’re back in the game. We were never gone but it’s put a lot of pressure on us, this race.
“I said to Matt and the team that we need to execute this weekend and perform well and we did. That was a really key point in the championship.
“It [felt] so good to cross the start/finish line when the checkered was waved to know that we’re back in the game with a good shot for Sebring.”
After struggling at Laguna Seca last year, Farnbacher said a discovery in the mid-engined car’s setup on Saturday proved to be the key factor for their performance in the race.
“To be honest I didn’t expect we were going to be that good this weekend because last year we had a really rough weekend,” he said.
“It started this weekend the same way as last year.
“But we found something that helped the car to rotate and help the tire degradation in a way. I think this was the key for sure.
“Everybody was having a little relief when [Matt] said the car was pretty neutral [in opening practice]. It brought us a lot of confidence.
“It’s never easy. There’s some really good guys out there that perform really well. You have some factors that you can’t control. In the end you just try to maximize everything.
“I think we performed really well this weekend as a team. We will win or lose the championship as a team together.
“I’m thinking positive that we have the best shot for the championship now and we’re working for it.”
Shank: Tire Management Key to Victory
Team co-owner Mike Shank credited Farnbacher and McMurry’s ability to manage the Michelin tires on the notoriously demanding circuit.
“That was just an incredible race all around,” said Shank. “We knew coming into this weekend that we needed to finish in the front to still be in the championship fight and that’s exactly what both of our cars did.
“Both Matt and Mario drove a great race – they managed the tires perfectly – we really couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.
“We now lead the championship by seven points which puts us in a much better position going into Sebring, but we still need to pull off a result to claim the championship.”