It's already been a little over a week since our win at Lime Rock Park and it's still hard to believe that we came out of it on top. What a great effort by everyone on the team to keep pushing even after having gone four laps down. We never gave up and that is what makes this Muscle Milk Pickett Racing team so special.
The weekend started out strong for us as we led all practice sessions. We were hoping to do the same in qualifying but Dyson Racing put up quite a fight and beat us by a tenth of a second. Lucas did an awesome job but he was a little bit unlucky and got caught up in some traffic and that could've been the difference between sitting on pole or second on the grid.
Despite losing out on pole position, we were confident heading into the race and honestly, while you never know what can happen in a race, I was far from thinking that we would go through such a range of emotion.
We knew that our Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03a was the fastest car on track and we had focused more on race setup versus qualifying. The car was great and really stable in the corners. Had it not been for such a great car and Michelin tires, I don't know that we would have ended up with a victory.
Lucas was starting the race at Lime Rock and he made a nice move to take over the lead from Chris Dyson shortly after the green flag fell. Everything was going according to plan and he was building a nice gap.
At any racetrack you want to build a comfortable lead but at Lime Rock, because the track is so short it's that much more important because the traffic comes so quickly. It's very easy to lose four or five seconds behind one car.
I'm not sure how much of a lead Lucas had but all was running smoothly when all of a sudden he came on the radio and said that there was something wrong with the car. Once again with the track being so short, he was immediately in the pits and the team was able to diagnose the problem and get it resolved.
Unfortunately, we had lost four laps to the Dyson car. At this point, I wasn't very optimistic, four laps down is a pretty big gap! On top of that we had to serve a stop and go penalty that put us even further back. Things were not looking good for us.
However, no matter how disappointing and frustrating it was to have fallen so far back, and while I knew that it was a lot to come back from, I also knew that we couldn't give up. This is racing, anything can happen.
The first goal was to at least make 70 percent of the race and score points, anything past that was an added bonus, but as the race went on, we got to a point where we knew winning was a strong possibility.
Lucas did an outstanding job in his stint. He was flying on track and weaving in and out of traffic and taking all the chances he could. He managed to make up three laps by the time he entered pit lane to hand over driving duties to me.
Once I got in the car, I set out to do qualifying lap after qualifying lap, I don't think I could have gone any quicker. To be honest, up until we got back into the lead, I wasn't really aware of what was going on, I sort of blacked out everything and just focused on the driving. I pushed like crazy, cut through traffic and took risks that I wouldn't normally take. I used all the experience I have.
I do remember that I got by Guy Smith in Turn 1, only to have him get by me when I got caught in some GT traffic.
That said, I knew that trying to pass him in Turn 1 was pretty much my only chance to get by him. He was quicker on the straight a little bit and unless you get lucky in traffic, it's really difficult to pass. Plus, Guy is a world-class driver – he knows what he's doing, he knows how to defend his position.
I knew from practice that I could brake quite late going into Turn 1 with our Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03a staying stable. The car was really, really good for doing something like that and so I did it, twice.
I need to say, I respect the way Guy raced me. It's pretty easy to punt a car off, especially when they are passing you on the outside like I did, so I appreciate the fair racing.
With about 30 minutes to go in the race, I got by Guy and then set my sights on the overall leader, which was a P2 car at the time. Once I got into the overall lead, it was a question of building a gap on the Dyson car and just staying focused until the end of the race.
Crossing the checkered flag and taking our third consecutive win of the season was all a little surreal after going four laps down.
Before I sign off, let me clarify how we made it from four laps down to win the race. I've seen quite a few different explanations on how exactly we made up all that ground on the Dyson car, so I'd like to clear that up.
First of all, we gained a lap back when Dyson pitted for their regular stop, then when they had their puncture, we gained another lap and a half.
We received one wave-around, which happened near the end of the race and put us back on the same lap as Dyson Racing and the rest was made up by driving qualifying laps in race conditions.
It was a heck of a fight and it was so rewarding for everyone on the team who never gave up. The guys did flawless pit stops and they stayed calm when we had our issue earlier on.
Lime Rock always seems to be a special place for us. We picked up our first overall win there in 2010 and the win this year will be just as memorable, for different reasons of course. It was a great team effort and it allowed us to increase our points lead in the championship.
This coming weekend, we head to Canada at one my and Lucas' favorite circuits, we can't wait to get on track aboard our Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03a.
Thanks for reading!
• Muscle Milk's HPD ARX-03a went into Rick Graves' studio in its race worn livery after its win at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Want to read and see more? We have a limited number of issues available so click here to subscribe now to ensure you get August's Great Cars issue!
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