Sheena Monk is searching for the silver lining in her 2022 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season after the No. 877 JG Wentworth Racing by PF Racing Ford Mustang scored its best result of the season at Lime Rock Park with a third-place finish.
Ordinarily, Monk likes to set her sights on the championship, where consistent finishes that net a steady amount of points are preferred over wins that are offset by poor results. After a mid-season switch to PF Racing for the JG Wentworth Racing program and back-to-back finishes of 28th and 24th for Monk and Kyle Marcelli, there is little left to chase other than wins.
“At this point, because of the season we’ve had, we’re not really fighting for a championship, we’re fighting for wins,” Monk said. “That’s not really the kind of season I would like to have. I want to be thinking long-term, rather than just win-focused, but right now we’re picking up the pieces.
“If anything, it’s just a learning experience, and I really am enjoying my time with the car and my time with Ford Performance. I’m trying to find the silver lining in everything. I feel fortunate that I have made my way to this place because this car is quite challenging to drive and I feel like it’s going to make me a much better driver and I’m really grateful for that.”
Monk and Marcelli are 15th in the Grand Sport driver’s championship standings. The duo’s best finish before Lime Rock Park was a 9th at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Despite the results not coming, Monk never got down on herself.
“I don’t get down on myself and I don’t question myself at all,” she said. “If anything, I get more angry and more frustrated and more motivated to figure out why. I’m absolutely obsessed with racing, and it pretty much consumes me and even when I’m away from the racetrack, it’s really all I’m focused on.”
As the race from Lime Rock Park entered the closing minutes and it looked like the team was headed for their first podium, someone leaned toward Monk and asked if she was happy now. “No, I’m not happy now,” Monk replied. “I want to win.”
There are still areas where Monk wants to improve. Getting a grasp on how the car changes from one session to another is one of those areas. The rotation of driving between Monk and Marcelli is broken up in a way that sees Marcelli finish the second practice session and not drive the car until the second half of the race. That leaves Monk as the team’s only voice for what needs to be addressed between qualifying and the race.
“I qualify and then I go race for a while, and then eventually [Marcelli] jumps in but the bottom line is there’s a long period of time during the weekend where he stops driving the car,” she said. “The team is relying on my feedback, and I get amazed, even to this day, how much a car can change from session to session.”
With improvements to her consistency, Monk believes solid results will continue to come the team’s way.
“We’ve focused a lot on consistency and specifically for me because obviously that’s a little bit more difficult for me,” she said. “Just consistency and having the team execute, and I think when you can do that the results come.”