For every bit that Sebring’s SCCA World Challenge race last March was wet and difficult, today’s fourth round of the season at Watkins Glen International was hot, sweaty and very intense.
I swear the results of my two races this weekend were somewhat determined by the June weather in upstate New York, which, historically, can be range from this 104 degree heat index weather to wondering just when the snow flurries will start. Snow would have been greatly appreciated, believe me! It felt like Houston in August after a rainstorm. Can we say “clammy!”
We ended up finishing with a lucky second place finish on Sunday. I am very happy to have a pair of seconds and thirds in four races but the results certainly do NOT show how difficult it is for us right now.
I had a really good qualifying run which was 1.1 seconds slower than last year. Our Team Remington Cadillac CTS-V is heavier and the new Toyo 888 tires are not quite as good for a killer lap as were the old ones.
We ended up second. I was well pleased with that because we had seen big speed in practice from the Viper, Mustang and the factory Porsches of Randy Pobst and Michael Galati.
I had a great start - for me - and ended up getting out-powered to turn one by Tommy Archer’s Viper, which didn’t surprise me too much as he was right there - qualified in 3rd. I raced pretty hard with Brandon Davis early in the race, trying to run a reasonably-aggressive line to hold onto 3rd. After a few laps it was obvious Brandon’s Mustang was quicker so I let him by going into the toe of the boot and figured maybe I could hold on to his back end, but, no chance.
The leaders, Randy Pobst and Tommy Archer, had just driven off and left me by about 3 to 4 seconds, there was just no way I could keep up, not even close. After letting Brandon by he also drove off and I figured I needed to be aware who else might be coming up.
At the start I know that my teammate, Mike McCann, and Michael Galati had been battling for 5th and I had gapped them by about 3 seconds. It was Galati who was now in 5th and coming for all he was worth. I had all I could be to hold him from coming up. He was about 2.7 seconds back and then 3.0, then 2.8 etc, we were both going flat out. If I messed up a bit he closed and if he didn’t get it quite right then I pulled out a little. The whole rest of the race for me was running flat out and trying to keep Michael Galati back behind me.
Meanwhile, up ahead, which I didn’t even bother getting a gap for, as they were just too quick, things were stirring as they say. Brandon had gapped me easily and was driving away when suddenly he was coming back to me. It turned out he had broken a timing chain in his motor. That was a very tough deal as I’m sure he would have been able to run with the leaders, but suddenly we had a podium if I could keep pushing and hold off Michael’s Porsche.
Now, I know this race must have looked a bit boring to the fans, but seriously, in the car it was 140 degrees, with no cooling (as my engineer and crew chief say it changes the Center of Gravity on the car, less than 1%, lol). I was pushing very, very hard and I know Michael was doing the same, so it was far from boring for me. It didn’t matter what we did, the leaders were just pulling away at will.