Although I have had a few days to reflect on our first race of the year before writing my first RACER.com blog of the season, I'm still upset with the penalties that were given to me at Sebring. I don't want to sound like a broken record but this is a column where we share our thoughts on the weekend and on things that happened and to me that's what stands out.
However, before I move ahead and write about our week at Sebring, I want to say that I'm pleased to be writing this blog again. There will be a slight change this year as Lucas Luhr and myself will be alternating for each race.
I also want to take the opportunity to thank everyone at Muscle Milk Pickett Racing for all the hard work they put in during the offseason to prepare us for this race and this season. We've been focused on reliability and that was achieved last week.
We've stated our goal of defending our P1 championship this year, repeating would be incredible, especially in what will be the final year of the American Le Mans Series as we know it. That said, we're well aware that it won't be easy. Dyson Racing wants to reclaim the title they lost to us, and Rebellion want to get their first.
The competition this year is going to be pretty incredible, as we saw at Sebring. The competitiveness between the gasoline cars is very close.
We knew going into Sebring that the Audis would be in a league of their own and that our battle would be with Rebellion and Dyson. We had a pretty good week leading up to the race in the test and practice sessions and accomplished a lot.
We were a little disappointed to not have been ahead of the two Rebellion cars in qualifying. Our goal is to always be the top gas car but at the end of the day, where you start in a 12-hour race doesn't really matter.
We had a very quick car in the race. I think we were clearly the best petrol car out there, even if the end result doesn't show that.
In my opinion, race control took the race away from us. Yes, we had to make an extra pit stop after losing a wheel but we made it back from that and it was after all this that the penalties destroyed our race. The most frustrating part of the stop with 60-second hold penalties is that they were completely unfair and ridiculous. It says a lot about who the blame should go to when the other driver in question actually comes and apologizes…
I couldn't avoid the incidents I got caught up in. The PC car, on the first contact, was going much slower than normal and then the one with Ed Brown, he completely shut the door on me. He needed to be more aware of what was happening around him.
I listened to the comments on the broadcast made by Justin Bell and Johnny O'Connell about how the penalty on me was a bad call, and if you are a true racer you will agree with what they said. It's plain and simple when looking at the replay. This is multi-class racing, it's unlike other forms of motorsports when it comes to on-track incidents.
Anyhow, you still have to see the positive side in our race. We pushed hard and fought to get back on the same lap as the Rebellion cars, only to end the race 55 seconds off of third place. The crew guys did a great job to recover.
Most importantly is that we ran the entire 12 hours. Reliability was a big priority for us coming into this race. We had issues last season, so to be able to complete the entire race without reliability issues is a very positive thing for the remainder of the season.
We also collected valuable points. We know how important it is to score points in every race when looking at the big picture. Sometimes you have to take a step back and focus on the positive things. Those will be the two elements for Sebring.
However, while you can say that it wasn't meant to be and try to only look at the positive, it's still very frustrating. As a driver, you push so hard and I always give everything I have. If it gets taken away from you the way it did, I feel cheated. I can't accept that.
Thanks for reading!