Rounds 7, 8, & 9 of the Pirelli World Challenge Championship for the Touring car classes were held at Road America this last weekend of June. I hadn’t been to Road America in 3 years, since my first season racing in MX-5 Cup, and I was really looking forward to getting reacquainted with such a historic track. Thursday was the promotor test day, and the Compass 360 Racing guys gave me a great car right off of the trailer. It is tough not to enjoy the raw speed of Road America, and I left the track on Thursday feeling confident about the weekend of racing ahead.
Friday held the official series practice session and qualifying. I finished practice p4 and was feeling great about it as 2nd-4th were separated by five tenths of a second. Qualifying did not go quite as well, as I had a tough time getting a clean lap in and ended up with a p7 starting position for race 1 the next day. I was a little bit disappointed in myself because I knew that I could have performed better, but I shook it off as I had a 40 minute race to prep for the next morning.
Road America is notorious for being fast, and hard on equipment. The track is super rewarding when you get it right, but incredibly punishing when you get it wrong. That was no different in race 1, and there were several cautions that ended up bunching the field back together. Throughout the race I had made my way up to 5th before a late full course caution brought the field back together. On the restart there were some slower TC cars that got mixed in with battling TCA cars. I had passed several of these TC cars on the restart, but the cars have much greater straight line speed, and it didn’t take long for them to start poking their noses in. Going into turn 8 I was held up while being passed by these cars, allowing some slower traffic to catch up. Entering the carousel I was hit by another competitor, forcing me off track into the gravel. Luckily, I wasn’t stuck in the gravel, but with two laps left the damage was done and there was no way I was catching back up with the leaders in my class.
On the bright side, there was no major damage other than a few cosmetic scrapes and the car needing to be realigned. The nice thing about having more than one race per weekend is having the opportunity to make up for bad races, and luckily I got my worst one out of the way early. I got a great launch off of the line at the start of race 2, but a wreck at the start brought out an immediate caution. Race 2 was pretty unexciting and I came in with a p6 finish, still hungry for more out of race 3.
During the final race of the weekend I was determined to not repeat the same mistakes made in the first two races. I would definitely say I drove my best race of the weekend, and did some of my best driving of the season in this race. Throughout the race I had good close battles with Jason Wolfe and Gino Carini, and finished the race p4. Though that is a few positions short of what I would have wanted, with the straight line speed of the top cars, 4th was a good finish for that race. Much thanks to Compass 360 Racing for always giving me a great car, and helping me to get better each and every session on track. I wouldn’t be racing without my partners, Chesapeake Electrical Systems, Inc and the Jacobs Company Inc and I am so grateful for their continued support.
We now have a long break until rounds 10, 11, & 12 at Mid Ohio the weekend of August 13-15th. This is one of my favorite tracks on the schedule and August can’t come soon enough!