Heaven, Hell, and a Top-Ten at Watkins Glen

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I was up at Watkins Glen for rounds nine and ten of the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup Series over the weekend. We definitely had hills to climb other than the corners!

We had two practice sessions and qualifying on the first day. In the first practice, I was eighth out of 23 cars. My times were within half a second of the leaders, and our Mazda was set up great. So that session was all good.

Practice two, though, wasn’t so good: my front sway bar bracket cracked, which caused me to spin out. It was going really well until the second lap, when I lost the car out of nowhere and was confused as to why it happened. The alignment was off after that because of the cracked sway bar, and the whole dynamic of the car changed.

I went back out in qualifying, and the bracket broke in half, so the car was flat-out demonic. The first practice was heaven, but qualifying was hell! I qualified 18th, ten positions back from the first practice because of one broken bracket. We fixed the sway bar bracket after qualifying, and we were lucky enough to get out and race to show everyone that we are capable of being up front.

We had both of our races on Saturday. In race one I started 18th and finished 16th. On the first lap I made it up to 12th. Unfortunately, bump drafting is critical for a good finish at Watkins Glen, and I lost the draft on a restart and wound up flying solo. I was faster than the group behind me, but they had a draft, so I was passing back and forth with them for the remaining laps.

Race two came, and we started 17th because, unfortunately, Pat was caught in an accident in race one and didn’t make it out for race two. I made it all the way up to eighth place and got passed on the last corner of the last lap because two guys hooked up and drafted past me right before the finish line. Ugh!

Last year, I would have been lucky to even be in the top 20 at Watkins Glen, and this year we finished 10th. So that is really a success in how much we’ve gained over the past year.

I’m looking forward to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, where we hope to finish high enough to wrap up 2017 with a top-ten in points, so we definitely have our goals for the season finale!

Remember to keep your eyes and ears open for links to purchase The Road to 24, and next week, I’ll be talking about why I’m Racing to Rescue!

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