VIR post race from SGM

Some Thoughts on VIR–

Saturday’s Rolex Sports Car Series race was due to be all about the bounty. And the new rules. But as it turned out, it was the rain that provided the core plot pivot as the series staged the first of a three-round run of races set over four weeks.

Last year, the race boasted a record crowd, with finding parking a pleasurable problem on race day. Alas, with the weather–mostly due to the forecast as rain didn’t come until late in the day–it just wasn’t as full this time around. But there seemed to be a lot more “pre-committed” folks on site (campers and RVs) this year than last, another encouraging sign as that is not a game day (and weather-related) decision…

The start was vicious, with cars spinning off even before the green and the 01 and 10 seeming to make contact directly in front of the 60. Pew did a great job to keep the car on track and hold position through the trying opening laps.

Rain driving can be unnerving. I remember my first laps in the wet, in the third day of a three day school no less. All of a sudden, the cars had 600 HP! and I can only imagine what dealing with real HP would be like…

One thing was clear, the 5 car won GOING AWAY, growing its lead in the final few laps over Pruett. We all suspected that the 01 would pull some kind of magic-as has been the case so many times–and reel him in and score the win. But the affable Portuguese racer would have none of it, easing off to score a victory in what in Rolex terms was a huge gap (nearly a quarter of a second).

The win–and the sister car coming home in third– to me confirmed that Burt Frisselle, who raced the 24 with the team in January, told me before Homestead. “Watch out for those guys, because they are for real. Things are in place, and it’s a focused group. THAT is who folks should be worried about.”

ON the GT side, we only needed to see the pursuing Camaro of Ollie Gavin in the Cool TV machine to think of the NASCAR connection. the car, running with out as they’d say in his home country, a bonnet, was no match for the younger of the young Taylors. When are those two starting together in a DP by the way, I wonder?

Great to see that the series made some AP news with the Bill Lester accomplishment and the GT win. I am sure I’m not the only one to wish that it wasn’t as noteworthy as it is, I suppose. Congrats to long-time combatants AutoHaus on the big breakthrough win.

In Continental Tire, which in double secret probation style was actually broadcast LIVE to folks on SPEED2, something that the announcers seemed to forget to be aware of–although–I bet the viewers had to appreciate the behind the scenes take they had on the action, not seeming to know they were on the air.

There might have been some expecting to see another post-race event thanks to Billy Johnson–which is to say that after contact..groups of crew members from different teams were so pissed that they were waiting for him to get out of the car after the race and had to be held back by GA team members –the excitement doesn’t stop after the race– But this time, not so much.

It seemed Auberlen just didn’t have anything for that mustang, which surely carries a bit of the Roush cat in the hat magic, prepared in the same shop as the nascar points leading no. 99 and most recent nascar race winning 17.

With the recent news that the Conti series is putting up great tv numbers, was a great reminder from Nico Rondet and Ryan Eversley that it also puts up some truly fantastic racing. The lap count change didn’t fully show how many lead changes were in play lap after lap as the two played “this is my part of the track” as the hp vs. handling battle was highly entertaining, with each taking the lead in different segments of the track. (look for it, speaking of ratings, on May 22nd at 1:00 PM ET–SPEED)

And, in a race that seemed to show lots of ‘less than pro racer’ behavior as everyone from Matt Plumb to nice guy Owen Trinkler would point out post race–it should be noted how clean these two (Eversley and Rondet) ran each other as they chased a win. This is true particularly when you consider how important this (they all are of course, but…) win would have been for each-

Insight would have been a first-ever victory, and the Honda’s of top team C360R are desperate to make up ground on the Turbo cars in the championship standings after the “push to pass folks” opened up the season in Ganassi-like fashion with two wins and three podiums.

Hats off–to Rico and Ryan, and also to their respective teams–Karl Thomson a last minute addition to the driving roster after Keith Carrol couldn’t make it, and (SGM client) Insight Racing for getting up to speed quickly in a very competitive category. Expect to see more from them, and soon.

So its off to Lime Rock Park now. When I lived there, I always pointed out that it was a great place to visit.

Intense–two day for CTSCC and just one for Rolex–schedule for each. It’s a momentum track, and with the summer season kicking off, momentum is certainly something that everyone is looking for.

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