I was really looking forward to going to Road America this year, more so than usual. After last year’s closest finish, I was seeking a little redemption this time around.
I always love going to Road America it’s one of the best tracks in the United States, if not the best and it’s very unique. It certainly has provided fans with some great racing in the past and this year was no different. It’s great fun to drive around Road America, especially in qualifying when there is no traffic.
The weekend started out well for us, again, as we led both practice sessions and were confident heading into qualifying. The Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03c was perfect like always. We struggled a little bit with the temperature difference between Friday’s practice session and Saturday’s qualifying so it took a little bit more time to get the tires up to temperature, but in the end it all worked out fine and we ended up more than two seconds quicker than the Dyson car.
Come race day, things didn’t exactly unfold as easily as they have been for us recently, which was a nice change to be honest. As I’ve said before, it is one thing to go out and lap the field but it’s much more satisfying winning a close race.
The rain at the start of the race definitely made it tricky. No one had practiced in wet conditions over the weekend and I couldn’t even remember the last time I had driven our Muscle Milk prototype in the rain.
That said, it made things interesting as the conditions on the circuit were changing as the race went on. There were some very slippery spots with other areas being a little bit better. I didn’t take a lot of risk at the beginning, I’m not saying I took it easy but it I wasn’t going all out either.
We discussed on the radio, with Brandon and Klaus, when would be the best time to go to slick tires and I think we made the right decision. We were not the first ones to do it but our timing was good.
From that point on, it was pretty much business as usual. I still had to push but we had a very good, fast car, especially in drying conditions. As the track dried up, it definitely was more in our favor.
I think for the fans the race probably seemed closer than it really was. With the rain and the different pit strategies, it allowed the DeltaWing to lead the race, but we were never really worried throughout about the final result. We knew we had the fastest car on track and that it was just a matter of time before we would regain the lead and start building a gap.
The finish seemed much closer than it was. Klaus had a lead of over one minute when the final full-course caution came out. It was nice to leave with the win this year. Last season, we came back from four laps down to finish second in what is the closest overall finish in ALMS history and while the fans certainly enjoyed the show, I was not too happy about the end result so to come out victorious this year is a great reward.
I’m really proud of what the team has accomplished so far this season. The team has really grown and come along quite nicely since I first joined them at the end of 2010. The progression this team has made is absolutely outstanding. I think they are one of the best sports car teams out there.
Some might say, “It’s easy for you guys to win races; you have no competition or not very strong competition at the moment.” My answer to that is simple: “It’s not our fault.” We want to have competition, we thrive on it but whether we’re battling wheel to wheel with another car or lapping the field, it doesn’t count if you don’t have a reliable car and if you don’t finish the races. We had issues with that last year and the team has really stepped it up so far this season.
We had Rebellion the best privateer sports car teams in Europe come in at the start of the season to do some races and we beat them, twice. It’s not our fault they are not here anymore.
That said, the team keeps moving forward and keeps getting better and better no matter what we face on track. I’m really happy with the way the team just constantly keeps improving. It’s a testament to everyone on the team and the hard work they put in week in and week out.
One final thing before I sign off for this Road America blog. I want to thank Greg Pickett for allowing me to take part in the IndyCar race at Sonoma on Aug. 25 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. It’s been a dream of mine to race an Indy car and I’m really looking forward to it.
I had a very short test session at Sonoma a few days after our Road America race and while I only did 10 laps, it certainly gave me a feel for the car and how different it is to drive compared to the P1 car. I was very excited about it and I’m looking forward to race week to get more time behind the wheel and finally do my first IndyCar race.
Until next time!