Upstate New York is one of the prettiest places I have visited. Carved into the rolling hills and luscious green scenery is a historic race track called Watkins Glen International. I would compare this track to Mosport or even the Nurburgring; its fast flowing corners put you on a 2 minute roller coaster ride through the forest. Home to the U.S. grand prix for many years, there aren’t many tracks like this one and those that are, aren’t even in the U.S. This was my first time at this track and it treated me well.
I was able pull out both wins in the double header race weekend and capture both poles while setting a new track record by nearly a second. The Mazda powered Prototype Lite car came off the JDC Motorsports trailer pretty much dialed. We made a few changes to the setup making the car spot on for qualifying. Qualifying was early in the morning, when the air was cold and the sun was just popping out of the clouds, so track conditions were just perfect.
For race 1, the track had changed pretty drastically; however, we made no changes to the car. When it came time for the race, it was much warmer and the air was less dense than during the cool morning. The car was very loose, but I was just barely able to hold off P2 for the win. From this, I learned that the air density changes from morning to afternoon and how that affects the aero balance of the car. We should have done a small wing change or ride height adjustment to compensate for track conditions, but it was a good lesson learned.
Race 2 was a rain soaked race that started off dry and left people wondering when the rain was going to come. In the series, if we all start on dry tires and it starts raining in the middle of the race, then they throw a red flag for the field to pit and change to wet tires. However, during this time you are not allowed to adjust the car. So the gamble before the race was whether to set up the car for the wet or dry, or somewhere in between. Our team decided it was best to go with a full wet setup because it would be smarter to be conservative given the weather forecast and my position in the championship. It ended up working in our favor, allowing me to pull a gap on the rest of the field once the rain hit.
Up next is Mosport for rounds 7 and 8 of the championship. This track has given me good luck in the past, where I came home with two wins in last year’s Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich. Currently, I have a 30 point gap to second place in the championship and hope to continue my four winning streak on this blisteringly quick track.