(photo credit: Al Arena/Ignite Media – Mazda Motorsports)
This past weekend I was back at Mid-Ohio, where we had some absolutely gorgeous weather – maybe some of the best I’ve ever had at that track (it didn’t get the name Mud Ohio for nothing!). The Battery Tender Mazda Global MX-5 Cup Series joined IMSA for the weekend, so my two worlds were combined into one event.
Now that the MX-5 Cup season is past its halfway point, the mental focus shifts a bit for drivers and teams as the championship points picture becomes more clear. Early in the season, the mentality is just to grab as many points as possible. For some, that’s their year-long strategy, which isn’t a bad thing. For others who are vying for the championship, the focus will often change to a more tactical approach as the season progresses. You might adjust the amount of risk you’ll take late in a race or think about what your position is relative to the drivers you’re fighting for the championship.
Thinking about championships is tough. It adds an extra layer of pressure to the team to continue to maximize performance, but you also can’t let yourself get distracted by it—it’s important not to lose focus on all of the things that are still important in each individual race. If you get overwhelmed by the big picture of the championship, you might lose focus on the little details that make you successful in a race. It’s important to strike the right balance between the short-term goal (the race) and the long-term goal (the championship).
For me, this is a really fun facet to racing. The overarching strategy to get the end-of-year result you’re looking for is an interesting layer on top of individual race strategy. From this point forward, every race might count the same, but every move you make has championship implications if you’re in the hunt.