After a disappointing race at Road America, I knew that I would need good results at Road Atlanta to keep the lead and hopefully extend it. Road Atlanta is one of if not my favorite track that the Skip Barber National Series will see this year. The front straight and huge back straight make it easy for the pack to stay together, but as we saw in last weeks race, it can still get separated.
Right from the start the week was going well. I was setting the fastest times during practice, and I knew what it would take to do the same in qualifying as well.
In the qualifying for race 1, me and my teammate Trent Hindman found ourselves on the same section of track by ourselves, though it wasn't the ideal place to be in for qualifying, we were able to play the draft well and set decent times. Once I had set a good time, I came back into the pits and came back out with the pack. With enough time for only one more complete lap, I knew I had to make that lap count, I was somewhat lucky with how the lap fell into place but I was able to get a draft down the back straight and then down the hill to the finish line and that was enough to put me on pole. Qualifying for race two was very similar, I was P1 for most the session but Sebastian Ordonez took it towards the end of the session, which put me in P2 for the start of the race.
Race one got off to a good start, I stayed towards the front of the pack for the first part of the race, but towards the middle of the race I got shuffled back toward the back of the pack, and was having a hard time making it back to the front. Luckily I was able to make my way up to third when two cars spun behind me, one making light contact with the rear of my car, which knocked the alignment in the rear off.
The spin separated the pack, which gave Brandon Newey and me a breakaway. With me in P2 on the last lap I knew I was in the right position to draft by Newey on the back straight. I set the gap almost too big coming onto the back straight, but still was able to draft by him and take the lead going into turn 10. I got into turn 10 a little too fast for the rear end being as loose as it was, got a little wide in 10b, but still was able to take the checker over Newey by .081sec.
Race 2 got off to a similar start, I was able to stay up front for the beginning of the race, before getting shuffled back to the rear of the pack. I had a much easier time making my way back up, and again just in time to break away from the pack, this time with Trent Hindman. We kept a gap for about 4 laps, working together as well as we could. But as soon as the larger pack behind us started working together, they were able to catch back up.
Coming to the last lap, nobody wanted to lead, the entire last lap was basically the lead pack slowing up and doing all they could to stay out of the lead when they came out of turn 7. Trent was the one to take the lead out of turn 7, and I was in p2. I knew p3 or p4 could easily get by me if I popped for the lead too early. I timed the draft just right and was able to take the lead into turn 10, without P3 or P4 having enough of a draft to get by me. I took the checker again, this time with my teammate Trent Hindman behind me.
Overall, the week at Road Atlanta was my best race weekend this season, and a huge relief after loosing most of my points lead at Road America. I can't thank my coaches Phil Lombardi and Jonatan Jorge enough for their help. I think they were just as if not more excited than I was for my wins. It was a great week for the whole JJRD crew, with Tristan Nunez wining both of his races in the Summer Series, and Trent finishing P4 and P2 in the National. We look forward to keeping the success going into the next race weekend at Lime Rock.