Mid-Ohio Welcomes Old Friend, IMSA Sports Car Series

A Long Awaited Return

It’s been five years since the top level of sports car racing has run at the 13 turn, 2.228 mile Mid-Ohio course in Lexington Ohio .  Added in there was the sports car merger So, the anticipation for this event from both fans and teams was high.

Mid-Ohio President Craig Rust was like a kid on Christmas with the return of the series to his race track. Rust says this track was born out of sports cars, and when the track wasn’t on the schedule following the merger, he was quite disappointed. One of the reason the excitement was high, was this race adds to a very busy and productive summer for the track. Rust adds that this track is

Helio Castroneves wasn’t even sure if he’d be racing when the Verizon IndyCar Series was here last summer. but with this return, and a boss in Roger Penske, a rookie is born out of a veteran and he said just as much when we talked with him prior to qualifying on Saturday. “I am absolutely a rookie when it comes to sports car, but I have phenomenal teammates in Ricky Taylor as well as Dane (Cameron) and of course Juan Pablo Montoya.” Castroneves said that Penske racing had been working really hard and showing a lot of potential with their Acura’s. He also added that when you have first years, things can and do happen.

Acura Team Penske

The Penske Acura’s would sit on the front row with a back and forth battle through the session. For Castroneves, he may be a rookie, but he has adapted quite well.

In a race sponsored by their manufacturer, the two Acura’s led all 125 laps of the two hour and fourty minute race.

Castroneves and his co-driver Ricky Taylor, both new to the Penske racing sports car fold gave high praise to the Acura Penske team for a flawless car.

As temperatures sored towards 80, and bright sun beating down on the track handling came in to question. Some of the GTD cars got better as it got warmer. GTD winner, Kyle Marcelli said his Acura took to long to get going early. But, when it warmed up, the car got better faster. As for the Prototype drivers, mainly our winners.  Both of the Penske drivers said they didn’t have to touch the car. Very few changes, even the heat and slick track didn’t effect the car.

Learn As You Go

Castroneves, only in his fourth race of the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship knew that there was a learning curve. He said on saturday it was easy for a new driver to make mistakes.  And Castroneves, he is not your typical “new” driver. The one thing he knows about mistakes, if you make them, learn from them. With todays results, it proves once again that “spiderman” is a quick learner.

Today Castroneves started the car after Taylor qualified the car Saturday. After the race, Castroneves said there are a few turns here that can get you in truble. You have to really learn as you go.

Experience was key for Castroneves to learn this race track. It was Ricky Taylor that brought the local knowledge having raced here in 2013.  “I watched Ricky and learned a few things that I wish I could have gone back and done. ” Castroneves was very proud of the information he got from his teammate, and how they’ve jelled quickly.

It was a weekend full of firsts as this was the first WeatherTech Championship victory for Acura Team Penske.  Taylor crossed the stripe 8.464 seconds ahead of Cameron’s No. 6 co-driver, Juan Pablo Montoya, to score a 1-2 sweep for the team.

 

Stephen Conley

If it races, I'll write about it, talk about it or shoot it with a camera.

I began pursuing a career in motorsports journalism immediately after attending college at Kent State University. I have hosted multiple Motorsports talk shows, worked in Country Music radio, and now i spend every day on the air in the morning with 1300 and 100.9 WMVO and in the afternoons watching the roadways around Central Ohio for 93.7 WQIO.

The excitement and the fans make everything I put out there worth while, it's been an exciting 15 years having covered everything from the Daytona 500 to the Rolex 24 and you can find me at pretty much any event run at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

What I like to bring is a look behind the scenes, a look at what and who makes the sport grow. From the guy that welds pieces back at the shop to the host in the tv booth.

Everyone has a story and I like to tell it. My main focus here at TPF is looking at the men and women behind the microphone and cameras.

My life long goal is to become a member of MRN or PRN Radio and bring the races to you. I hope that what I share now is enjoyable and gives you a unique look in to the world of motorsports.

See you at a track soon

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