It was nice to finally get back behind the wheel of the Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03c at Lime Rock Park. The break in the American Le Mans Series schedule is much too long!
Once again it was an incredibly hot and humid weekend in Connecticut. It seems each time we go there the weather is crazy hot. I think being in an open-top car helps, especially compared to a GT car but it's certainly not the ideal temperature to be racing in! It's not only hard on the drivers but the crew guys as well.
We had another good weekend at Lime Rock and picked up our second win in a row at that track and our third win this season. Fortunately, it was a little less dramatic than last season when we had to make up four laps! However, while we crossed the finish line six laps ahead of our closest competitor it wasn't as easy as the end result showed.
We had a good qualifying session, grabbing pole position, but due to the heat and the changing track conditions it wasn't easy to find the right balance on the car. However, the car was very good for the short qualifying run but I thought there might still be some work to do for the race, for the long runs. The guys did a great job in preparing the car for the race and as we normally do, we had a good car come race day.
The key factor at Lime Rock is always the traffic. The P1 cars are by far the fastest cars out there and with Lime Rock being such a short track, at the beginning of the race you only get two or three laps that are clear, after that you are passing a car nearly every two seconds!
It can be very frustrating when dealing with the traffic. It's like flying a jet fighter against a 747, especially with the GTC cars. The speed difference with them is just amazing. You have to keep telling yourself to stay calm and not go crazy. You have to wait for your chances and stay out of trouble because it happens so quickly.
The track isn't very wide and a lot of the cars in the other classes are in close fights and the last thing you want to be is the one that screws up their race. You have to be patient and time it perfectly so you don't lose too much time but also so you don't mess up another team's race.
Other than dealing with the traffic, I had a fun time battling with Chris Dyson. He put up a good fight. I wasn't very happy with the call at the start of the race to not go green – I'm the leader of the field and I should be able to dictate the start but that wasn't exactly the case.
So, Dyson got by me on the start but I ended up being able to overtake him later on. Getting around Dyson wasn't easy. It's very tough to pass at Lime Rock – especially with our car, as we are always a bit slower than the coupes down the straights.
That said, once back in front I started building a gap before they encountered their problems. It's too bad that Dyson had issues once again. They ran competitive and it was nice to be able to battle with them in the first part of the race. We'd much rather have them on track with us and fighting with us.
It's much more rewarding to win a close race than to win by six laps like we did. When you have such a lead, it's your race to lose; there's nothing to win, really. Klaus Graf as usual did a great job when he took over the Muscle Milk car from me to bring it home.
The Pickett Racing crew continued to do a great job on the pit stops. It wasn't an easy weekend for them. They were outside in the heat for the majority of the day whereas the rest of us were able to spend time in the cool air in the truck between sessions, so my hat goes off to them for another great weekend. The car ran flawlessly and that's always important.
It was also the first race weekend that we ran our updated package, the HPD ARX-03c, with the bigger front tires. We were able to collect a lot of data that will help us to improve the car as the season goes on.
Next up is one of my favorite tracks to go to, Mosport – or "Canadian Tire Motorsports Park" as they call it now. We've won the last three races there and we're hoping to do it again!
Until next time,