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Skeen, Knox Confirmed in Lone Star Viper for Four-Race GTD Program

Mike Skeen, Dan Knox set for four-race IMSA GTD program…

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

Dan Knox and the Lone Star Racing team have announced a four-race GT Daytona IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship campaign with Knox and Mike Skeen co-driving the No. 80 ACS Manufacturing Dodge Viper GT3-R.

Lone Star Racing’s 2016 IMSA schedule begins at next weekend’s Continental Tire Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca where Knox and Skeen will co-drive together for the first time.

Other confirmed races include the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America, August 5 – 7, the Oak Tree Grand Prix at VIR (Virginia International Raceway), August 26 – 28, and the Lone Star Le Mans at COTA (Circuit of The Americas), September 15 – 17.

“We can’t wait to get back to the track and have worked hard selecting and preparing for a four-race schedule we mapped out very deliberately,” Knox said.

“It has been a little difficult having not raced in more than six months but the testing has kept us fresh and we have used the time to prepare our sprint race program and find the best co-driver available in Mike Skeen.”

Knox and Marc Goossens co-drove the No. 80 ACS Viper GT3-R to a seventh place finish at COTA last year in the team’s first IMSA race, an encouraging home-state debut for Knox and Lone Star Racing.

The team is based at Motorsport Ranch in Cresson, Texas in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“I am very excited about joining Dan and the whole team at Lone Star Racing,” Skeen said. “I have been fortunate enough to win at both Laguna Seca and Road America in World Challenge.

“The four tracks that we will be visiting are high on the lists of most racers. Being natural terrain circuits makes them rewarding to drive, three of the four have long and storied histories, and COTA has quickly become a world-renowned circuit that is both challenging and beautiful.

“Being Dan’s home track, it will be important to do well and finish out our season strong at COTA.”

Lone Star Racing carefully evaluated its 2016 programs during the off season and, after strongly considering competing in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, ultimately decided to remain focused on the four sprint races.

“The four circuits chosen have to be the most all-around demanding and popular sprint races on the schedule,” said Lone Star Racing Team Manager and Engineer AJ Petersen.

“From a setup point of view, you really have to balance the car for good mechanical grip, but you also need a strong platform to support the aerodynamic loads.

“It was really tough visiting Daytona at the start of the IMSA season without an entered car.

“However, we have been able to prepare for the details involved with a two-hour-plus race. We ran COTA in 2015 utilizing a lot of equipment and experience from the Riley Motorsports program.

“This season, investments have been made for equipment and time spent making it our own. We are still a small team and are working diligently to build a solid foundation for North American sports car racing.

“We are fortunate to be able to continue the relationship with Riley Motorsports and Dodge with staffing and technical support.”

The team and Skeen tested alongside the Riley Motorsports No. 33 Dodge Viper GT3-R IMSA GTD team earlier this month at Road Atlanta.

“The Road Atlanta test went well,” Petersen said. “We were able to accomplish all of our objectives as a team.

“It was good to get our group together and get some of the technical bugs out of the car and learn about the Continental Tires.”

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Matt

    April 20, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    He’s avoiding the hard tracks, Mosport and the Glen.

    • Greg

      April 21, 2016 at 12:57 pm

      Mike actually gets around Mosport (he’s won there in PWC and had a strong finish in the trucks, Max Slapis aside) and WGI quite well, as the others have stated probably trying to avoid bending up the equiptment since the budget is tight…

  2. Nick

    April 20, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    I really wish they were racing at the Glen

  3. David Chaste

    April 21, 2016 at 2:22 am

    They want tracks with the most runoff room. They dont want to have to call Bill Riley for more carbon fiber spares. He will only be happy to oblige, and charge them well.

    They figure if they just stay out of trouble, no contact, and execute on pit stops and solid pace they could do well.

    The Glen would cost them as much as 2 or 3 of the 3 races combined. Why do long races you might not finish, while you could do shorter races with a chance of finishing in a good place.

    • Bakkster

      April 21, 2016 at 9:54 am

      And honestly, if I could only pick 4 IMSA tracks to race on, the only exchange I’d want to make would be Road Atlanta in place of either VIR or CotA. Naturally, he picked CotA because it’s both his home track and a gentleman driver favorite.

      • David Chaste

        April 21, 2016 at 12:46 pm

        Road Atlanta is nice but it’s 10 hours. That’s $$$$$. They’re on a tight budget.

      • tracer

        April 21, 2016 at 9:01 pm

        Road Atlanta over ViR? While it’s not a choice I’d want to make bc both are so darn good, if I have to choose, I’m definitely going to ViR. There aren’t many things in this world more enjoyable than lapping that place… I find ViR to be a bit more technically challenging than RA with a better flow too, which makes hunting down and nabbing that perfect lap more rewarding.

        Agree with others that mosport is a top 3 track on the calendar as well.

        All said, this is just a reminder that the series has a pretty awesome track lineup right now, which certainly hasn’t always been the case.

      • NorthSask

        April 21, 2016 at 10:57 pm

        They’re running sprint races due to budget constraints. Road Atlanta isn’t a sprint race…

  4. NorthSask

    April 21, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    If they race at the Glen they would’ve had to chop 2 or 3 other races to stay on budget. CTMP would also be a bit longer haul than the four tracks they chose to race at.

  5. Andy Flinn

    April 22, 2016 at 9:56 am

    I’m glad to see a privateer Viper racing in GTD with support from Riley and the factory?

    Can somebody explain to me why we don’t see any Chevies (Pratt and Miller? Whelen Callaway GT3, Reiter Camaro GT3) racing in this class?

    • tracer

      April 22, 2016 at 10:32 am

      Many different factors and back stories to wade through to give you the complete answer as to “why”, but the long and short of it is explained by what an OEM GT3 offering requires these days in order for it to be worth the endeavor from GM’s perspective. Look at what Audi, Lambo, AMG, Ferrari, BMW, etc have developed over the years in terms of not only their GT3 machinery, but more importantly their trackside service and support apparatus to understand that GT3 requires a massive undertaking and top down commitment from an OEM to see their models on track in privateer hands, whether it be in GTD, PWC, Blancpain, etc. Otherwise, an OEM is left to the factory team or factory backed team approach ala Cadillac, Porsche, McLaren, Bentley, etc. in PWC, which we are now seeing the latter two shifting towards a commitment in the customer support model bc of the recent success demonstrated by the likes of Audi and Lambo.

      • Andy Flinn

        April 22, 2016 at 12:15 pm

        Tracer, I grew up watching IMSA at Daytona and Sebring in the late ’70s and early ’80s when GM didn’t publicly support anybody (there was actually a corporate ban at one time), yet there were plenty of privateers racing Corvettes, Camaros, Monzas and Firebirds. Arguably, the positive results weren’t always there. But it was fun to see the diversity.

        It’s ironic to me that as the factory Corvette program has achieved more and more over the past 17 years and become such an incredible success both here and at Le Mans, we now see few, if any, GM models raced by privateers in the GT classes.

        Oh, how times have changed, I guess.

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