I traveled to Watkins Glen after our success at Long Beach to coach Ashton Harrison, who had never been the track before and wanted to learn the circuit. She is preparing for the upcoming Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup race there next month.
It was quite the privilege to be at Watkins Glen. The circuit was repaved during the off-season, and this was the first event on the new pavement. It was absolutely incredible. All of the bumps and patches had been removed, and the surface was as smooth as glass. The curbing was also updated, including additions to particular sections, where I think it will be a benefit for all drivers.
Shortly after that, I traveled to my home away from home, Virginia International Raceway, for the NASCAR K&N Series test day. Those young racers will be taking to VIR’s North Course for their first road course race of the season this coming weekend, April 30-May 1. I enjoy being a part of that race, but this year the dates conflict with the IMSA WeatherTech race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Still, I’m glad I had the opportunity to attend the test day so I could continue working with Harrison Burton.
This was Harrison’s first time driving his stock car at VIR—he had only driven there previously in a Spec Miata. The day was a lot of fun, and it was great to see the new crop of talented young NASCAR drivers. By the end of the day, I was impressed to see how much their lap times improved.
I was at VIR again over the weekend for the Ferrari Challenge Club Race. I’ve had a lot of fun working with a driver in that series, and this was my first opportunity to coach him during an actual race weekend. We made great progress over the couple of days we were there, and he beat his lap time goal, which is always gratifying. He also got top-five finishes in both of his races!
After a busy week of coaching, my focus is now on preparations for Mazda Raceway, where our team is hopeful after such a strong effort at Long Beach. The next couple of days will include a review of last year’s race, refreshing my knowledge of track details, and a team debriefing. We have a lot to accomplish before we’ll ever even get on the track!