Ben Waddell will make his IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge debut in the No. 99 Stoner Car Care Products Aston Martin Vantage GT4 campaigned by Automatic Racing in Friday’s Fox Factory 120 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
The 23-year-old Denver resident has been running with Stoner Car Care Products over the past two years in selected IMSA Prototype Challenge races, with his best finishes of fourth at Barber Motorsports Park in 2018, and fifth at Mid-Ohio in 2019. He will co-drive with Dr. Ramin Abdolvahabi.
“Stoner Car Care Products has been a big supporter of mine,” Waddell said. “My dad (Barry Waddell) is a long-time coach and spotter for team driver Rob Ecklin for many years, and I spotted for the No. 97 Invisible Glass Aston Martin this year at Laguna Seca. So this is a great opportunity to get in the car.
“This is my first real GT car I’ve ever driven. I’ve always driven in Prototypes or Formula cars, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Waddell has history at Michelin Raceway, driving there in the Skip Barber Racing School.
“I love Road Atlanta; it’s high commitment, with high-speed corners, but also very technical,” Waddell said. “I really enjoy the track, and the whole Petit Le Mans weekend is quite an experience with all the fans.”
Friday will also be the final IMSA race for Aston Martin chassis No.004, which has logged more than 62,000 racing miles over the past seven seasons.
“That car has mega history,” team owner David Russell said. “It started off with Multimatic Motorsports, prepared by Sean Mason. Scott Maxwell and Jade Buford drove it for one season. Then Anthony Mantella bought it, and co-drove it with Mark Wilkins for one year. Then we bought it, and the car has run full seasons since 2013.”
That chassis won at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and captured a pole at Virginia International Raceway, and claimed a podium at Daytona this year with Kris Wilson and Gary Ferrara.
“It’s the longest-running car that I recall running in the series,” Russell said. “Now, we’ll retire it for club racing.”
Russell is looking for one more solid performance from that car.
“Two years ago we finished second, and the year before that we finished third,” Russell said. “We’ve been knocking, and maybe it’s time to get to the top step. I think the No. 99 Stoner Car Care car could be really good on the soft Michelin tire. That car is super easy on the tire, and that compound wears a bit. If we get long, green-flag runs, believe it or not, that old car’s going to be really tough to beat.”