PJ Groenke: Utah Motorsports
P.J. Groenke Racing competed in the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) Utah Motorsports Campus Grand Prix presented by Energy Solutions race weekend from August 12th to 14th as part of the Utah Supercar Grand Prix presented by Energy Solutions. Taking place on the counter clockwise 3.048 mile, 15-turn “perimeter course”, featuring a 3,400 feet front straight and speeds surpassing 100 mph, Utah Motorsports Campus (UMC) located in Tooele, UT is a PWC driver and fan favourite event. P.J. Groenke Racing entered the race weekend as the 2016 PWC Touring Car B Class Championship leader on the heel of five podium finishes in a row and looked to continue our success and strengthen our championship run.
The Verax.ca, Tundra, Clorox Pool&Spa Chevy Sonic presented by Cabano’s Comfort Food took to the track for the first PWC Official Practice Session setting the 4th fastest lap time, a full 1.92 seconds off the fastest lap time. Something was off with the #25 Chevy Sonic during the last race at Road America and it was readily becoming apparent that there was an issue with the engine; I was down on power and caught easily by the #24 Chevy Sonic on the front straight at UMC. Relaying the information to the TechSport Racing team owner Kevin Anderson, we planned to monitor my lap times and straight line speed during the second PWC Official Practice Session. Setting the 5th fastest lap time during the second PWC Official Practice Session, 1.517 seconds off the fastest lap time, we overlaid data with the #24 Chevy Sonic and found that my car was 3mph down on straight line speed, not a good sign and Kevin was immediately in search of a replacement engine.
I mustered as much speed out of the “hurt” Verax.ca, Tundra, Clorox Pool&Spa Chevy Sonic presented by Cabano’s Comfort Food during the PWC Qualifying Session to no avail securing the 6th fastest lap time of the session, 1.428 seconds off the ultimate lap time. Disappointed with the result team owner Kevin Anderson delivered great news following the session, he had found a motor! The only issue was that we could not pick up the engine and have it installed before the first race…
Round 9 of the 2016 PWC Championship took place later that afternoon and as the green flag flew I had one goal in mind, race hard, gain as many positions as possible, stay out of trouble, and finish the race gaining as many PWC Championship points as possible. The race was going well as I held onto 4th place with a comfortable gap to the car behind me until I exited “Knock Out” with four laps to go…As I exited the corner there was a loud bang and the #25 Chevy Sonic felt like there was a drive shaft or some driveline component which had broken…every time I made a right hand turn following this there was a bad vibration and I had absolutely no drive out of the corner. Back and forth with James Wilson for the remainder of the race I almost managed to hold onto 4th place, but it was not to be as the #25 Chevy Sonic greeted the checkered flag in 5th place with no left rear shock due to the lower mounting bolt shearing off as I exited “Knock Out”.
— P.J. Groenke (@PJGroenkeRacing) August 13, 2016
The TechSport Racing team immediately began the repair work to replace the engine and left rear lower shock mount working until 1:30 am and back at it a mere five hours later at 6:30 am. I truly cannot speak highly enough of the team as I arrived at UMC for the PWC Driver Autograph Session to find the Verax.ca, Tundra, Clorox Pool&Spa Chevy Sonic presented by Cabano’s Comfort Food ready to race!
Round 10 of the 2016 PWC Championship began with the traditional standing start. Fully repaired and in my starting box with the #25 Chevy Sonic I could not see the PWC starting light stands from my 6th place starting position. This was not good at all having to rely on crew chief, Cody Gilbert giving me the lights out command…As soon as Cody said “go” I was off but not with my usual reaction time due to the delay in radio communication. By the time I entered Sunset Bend” at the end of the 3,400 feet front straight drag race I had moved up to 3rd place! At the end of 40 minutes of door-to-door, bumper-to-bumper racing including side-to-side contact through “The Attitudes”, the Verax.ca, Tundra, Clorox Pool&Spa Chevy Sonic presented by Cabano’s Comfort Food crossed the start/finish line in 4th place securing our 9th top five finish in a row!
The “Chase for the Championship” will come down to the wire at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with P.J. Groenke Racing holding a 13 point lead over the 2nd place TCB Championship competitor, and the 3rd and 4th place TCB Championship competitors racing for double points during the final race weekend of the season. It will be very difficult mathematically, but I will be pulling out all the stops and fighting harder than ever to capture our first ever Championship!
P.J. Groenke Racing
About P.J. Groenke
P.J. Groenke has been racing professionally in Canada since 2001 and across North America since 2013. Highlights of Groenke’s racing career include winning the 52nd Annual Indian Summer Trophy, finishing as a semi-finalist on Discovery Channel Canada’s Star Racer in 2006, and sweeping the Canadian Touring Car Championship races at the Vortex Brake Pads 200 race weekend with back-to-back victories in 2011. Most recently, Groenke finished 6th in the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car B-Spec Championship with one top five finish,15 top ten finishes, and an Invisible Glass “Clean Pass” of the race award.
P.J. Groenke is sponsored by Verax.ca, Tundra Technical Solutions, Clorox Pool&Spa, Cabano’s Comfort Food, Clairhaven Ltd., Martinrea International Inc., Pelto Agri Investments, Ro-Ro Property Management Corp., and Warp Speed Computers Inc. Other sponsors include ARS Access Restoration Services, Affinity Luxury Car Rentals, Alpha Laboratories Inc., Amsterdam Brewery, Desson Manufacturing Ltd., Diplomat Trucking Ltd., Eventscape Inc., Payne Capital Corp. & Hawthorn Equity Partners, and Proprint Services Inc. For more information, please visit www.pjgroenkeracing.com.