Bad Luck at Road America
Every once in a while, you have that race weekend where nothing goes right. You can have a whole string of great weekends, and then you just hit that one bad weekend. For me, that weekend was the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup at Road America.
I’m absolutely gutted that I had a mechanical issue with my brakes that resulted in me hitting a good friend and competitor in practice one. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time when my bad luck hit at turn five, and it ended his weekend.
The session started on that sour note, and then I went on to lose my transmission by the end of it. I missed practice two while the Sick Sideways crew did a transmission swap. That was the first time in my MX-5 Cup history that I had to watch from the sidelines, and I hated it! It felt awful to not be out there with everyone else.
The team had me ready to go for qualifying, but I had to serve a 15-minute penalty right off the bat due to the incident with my friend. When I finally got out there, I had a brand-new transmission in my car, but only 15 minutes—half a session—to get in my fast lap. The new clutch gave me some issues with shifting into fourth gear, so that hurt my lap times. I wound up qualifying 20th and 21st for my races.
In race one, I got a really good start. Going into the kink on lap one, though, a driver came over and pushed me off track. It’s the fastest corner at Road America, and although I got back on track with no issues, I was suddenly much farther back and driving around by myself for the rest of the race. More clutch issues in the race made shifting difficult, especially for third and fourth gear, but I was able to finish 15th.
I had a new clutch in the car for race two—an OEM one, this time, instead of the series-spec clutch. My Harrison Contracting Mazda felt amazing this time out, like a completely different car. In lap one, I moved up from 21st to 13th place.
A yellow flag came out towards the end of the race, but the race went green for the final lap. Unfortunately, I lost the draft out of Turn 3 and was passed by two cars who were drafting each other, and I was unable to regain those positions. I finished 15thagain, and I had one of the fastest single-car laps of the race.
I always try to be optimistic, and despite all of the problems we had, we came back with the car in one piece, we learned a lot, and I am so grateful for all of the improvement we’ve experienced in the season so far. My Sick Sideways team really kicks butt, and my car chief Tim Kinzie deserves a huge shout-out. Tim, John Dean and the whole Sick Sideways crew worked so hard on my car all weekend, and despite all of the issues I had with the car, I only missed one session. Not only that, but we also finished the weekend with two top-15s. We will learn a lot from this past weekend, and it will make us even better in the future!