Former IndyCar driver Alex Barron says he “lucked out” to get his first full-time racing program in over a decade with Blancpain GT World Challenge America squad K2R Motorsports.
The two-time IndyCar race winner, who had stints at All American Racing, Team Penske and Red Bull Cheever Racing, is making his GT3 debut this weekend in a K2R-entered Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Barron made his first sports car appearance in a decade when he suited up to drive one of the team’s Ligier JS P3 Nissans in last year’s Michelin Encore at Sebring, and he is now set for his first full-season program since the 2006 Atlantic Championship.
Barron told Sportscar365 that his recent roles in driver coaching, particularly with Blancpain GT America co-driver Kevan Millstein, have kept him sharp ahead of his full-time racing return.
“I’ve been doing driver coaching and engineering for the last eight or nine years, so I still drive cars a lot in open wheel and sports cars, but it’s all testing,” he said.
“I made a decision about a year and a half ago that I was going to go back to racing full-time one way or another.
“I lucked out with the LMP3 ride with Bobby [Golasinski] from K2R, and then he has other programs including this one which just started up with Kevan. It just kind of transitioned into this [GT3] as well.
“So now I’m doing this and LMP3 this year, so I’m not doing as much driver coaching; I’m actually doing more of the driving! I’m glad I was in the right place at the right time to get two really good rides.”
Barron and Millstein, who is also new to Blancpain GT America, are aiming to run the whole season together in the Pro-Am class.
According to Barron, the K2R Porsche program came together late which resulted in the team bringing in personnel from 2015 Petit Le Mans winner Park Place Motorsports for the COTA season-opener.
“The combination’s worked out really well,” he said.
“It would have been hard if we did it all by ourselves being this last minute, but so far it’s gone really good.
“The key is to get as much track time before the weekend starts. But on Friday, I was only in the car for about 12 minutes because of the rain, so I’m playing catch up as well.”
Barron, who is Silver-rated by the FIA, added that racing in the current era of sports car racing has required him to adopt a new overall approach.
“Being older now and racing in sports cars, I’ve really enjoyed running in LMP3 and the Porsche, which is a different animal,” he said.
“But it’s important to me, going to the track and doing fresh things. Learning about a whole different kind of car, the philosophy behind it is quite different than an open wheel car.
“Fortunately for me, I’m working around some people who have a lot of experience, so in some ways I’m learning a lot as well.”