Sometimes the little things can make or a break a championship. What can seem insignificant at the time, in hindsight, could be the defining factor of whether or not you are holding a championship trophy at the end of the season. What a team does and how it responds to adversity puts not only your character on display, but also exposes your will to win. How bad do you want it? Will you fold when things get tough?
Shea Racing found itself in this situation at Mid-Ohio over the weekend. Adversity came knocking on their door and I saw firsthand what this team was made of. On Saturday it rained as the TC/TCA/TCB class of the WC Racing Series were waiting to get on track for race 1. Every car was on the starting grid with slick tires. The Series made a decision to start the race and as the cars roared into turn 1, the drivers found out there was no grip. Many slid through the turn and created a traffic jam. Shea Holbrook started on pole but got tangled up in the mess and found herself in last place in the TCA class. Paul Holton radioed his team and demanded to have wet tires put on which cost him a lap in the TCB class. As the track dried out, he lost more time because the wet tires were literally being chewed up. The results for Shea Racing had Jason Cherry 3rd and Shea Holbrook 4th in the TCA class, while PJ Groenke finished 4th and Paul Holton in 12th in the TCB class. To add insult to injury, race control penalized Shea for avoidable contact in the traffic jam. They fined her monetarily and took points away from her. Four drivers in the field and only one on the podium.
Enter adversity. Shea lost ground to Jason Wolfe, the points leader, because of her finish but then even more due to the penalty. Paul Holton, 3rd in TCB, lost major points and found himself drop to 4th. Some teams may have thrown in the towel, wined and complained blaming race control, etc. As I went to the Shea Racing garage after the race, the team was definitely frustrated. They had worked hard, been beaten up and not got the results they had hoped for. How would the team react? Would they pack it in and move on to the next venue, hoping to make up for the loss of points?
What I witnessed was their will to win. The mechanic’s buckled down, made some adjustments and looked into the little details. I saw the determination in their eyes that race 2 would be much different. Their will was not broken and instead a fire had been lit. The track was dry for race 2 and the effort showed out on the track. At the finish of the race, Shea Holbrook had won at Mid-Ohio in the TCA class, while her teammate Jason Cherry fought hard for 3rd to join her on the podium. Paul Holton rebounded to a 7th place finish, while PJ Groenke finished 9th. I know Paul and PJ expected better results, but they drove their hearts out on the track. Shea is just 33 points down in the championship while Jason is just 15 points behind 3rd. Paul dropped to 4th in the TCB class while PJ is only 6 points out of 5th in the championship.
We won’t know until the season is over but if Shea wins the TCA championship, Mid-Ohio could have been the defining moment. It’s where I saw the team overcome adversity by having the will to win.