This past weekend was the IMSA event at Virginia International Raceway. Despite this round being later in the year than usual, October is actually a great time to be at VIR! The temperatures were perfect, and despite some rain here and there, overall we had really nice weather. I was there to join Britt Casey, Jr., once again. Britt is an old teammate of mine, and we were fortunate enough to win the inaugural IMSA TCR championship together in 2018.
Britt was at VIR to drive the same type of car that we campaigned in 2018, but this time with a brand-new team, New German Performance (NGP). Britt and the team had asked if I could give them a hand since they were new and unfamiliar with some of the nuances of endurance racing.
I was asked to help in the engineering and strategy aspects of the weekend. Although I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of experience in these areas from my years of racing, those facets aren’t necessarily my areas of expertise. It was a lot of fun to have a new challenge and to be a part of the team in a different role.
Things got off to a great start. In practice, we were very quick and made some improvements to the car, which is always rewarding. That progress helped us qualify third, and I was really excited for the upcoming race.
I found myself more nervous than usual before the race since I appreciated the responsibility that was squarely on my shoulders of managing the car and calling the shots on the radio. I also had to crunch the numbers for our fuel consumption and plan when to pit. Usually I’m being told this information, not creating it!
Additionally, since the team is new, I was also helping the crew members understand what we needed to do for the pit stops and constantly going over my checklist to make sure we didn’t miss a beat.
The team got off to a great start in the race and even led for portions of the opening stint. A timely full-course yellow in our fuel window allowed us to hit pit road for a full-service stop, including a driver change. This was the team’s first live pit stop (of course they’d had rehearsals). They did a great job, and the car went back out on track still in the hunt.
Britt left the pits and climbed up to fifth place. He had the pace to be up front, but he was in the midst of an evenly-matched field. It was great to get fifth in NGP’s debut race! It was so much fun to be part of a new team effort, and I wish them a lot of luck as they move forward in their future races.