Birmingham: Krohn Racing preview

Krohn Racing just completed their second podium finish of the season as they head to Birmingham, Alabama this week for Round 9 of 14 in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. The podium finish was a real morale boost to the Krohn team, who is ...

Krohn Racing just completed their second podium finish of the season as they head to Birmingham, Alabama this week for Round 9 of 14 in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. The podium finish was a real morale boost to the Krohn team, who is developing a new Proto-Auto Lola this season.

The Barber Motorsports Park circuit is a race track at which Krohn Racing has experienced success the past couple of year. In 2006, Krohn Racing won the event with drivers Colin Braun and Jorg Bergmeister. After a head-to-head battle to the checkered last year, the team finished second with Braun and Nic Jonsson.

This year Krohn Racing has two drivers making their debut at the 2.3-mile, 16-turn Barber Motorsports Park road course -- Ricardo Zonta and Eric van de Poele. Eric van de Poele co-drives with team owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn in the No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola, while Ricardo Zonta and Nic Jonsson are paired in the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola.

Tracy W. Krohn, team owner/driver, No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola:

How do you like the Barber circuit?

"I like the Barber track. It's challenging but fun track. The facility is excellent and the grounds are beautiful. The track is a real test for the drivers and the teams because there is not a lot of passing areas. As a driver, you have to be selective where and how you pass. That makes it challenging."

Barber is the site of Krohn Racing's last victory -- in 2006 with Braun and Bergmeister. Colin & Nic had a good race last year - finishing 2nd. Talk about Krohn Racing's success at Barber.

"It's a good track and we've won there (in 2006). Last year we were breathing down the neck of the 99 Gainsco car and could almost taste victory. Unfortunately, the last few laps we were running on fuel reserve and Colin (Braun) just couldn't quite make the pass he wanted to on Alex (Gurney). We finished second. Maybe Nic or Ricardo will be able to bring home a win for us this weekend!"

You are hosting a youth group from a military base in FL this weekend. Tell us about that.

"We sponsor a group of kids that come up from Florida with the Hurlburt Field Youth Program. These are kids from military families of active duty, DOD civilian or base contractors that are encouraged to focus on their own personal achievements such as leadership, scholastics, awareness and skills. Most of these kids have experienced first-hand the impact of a military deployment on their own family. They come to Barber to camp out for the weekend and do some teambuilding exercises and learn problem solving and peacekeeping. We host them to a VIP package to provide their meals, give the kids some racing clothes and gifts, introduce them to the drivers, immerse them into the world of racing and get them away from the stresses of military life for a fun weekend at the race track."

Eric van de Poele, driver, No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola:

This will be your first time at Barber Motorsports Park, correct? What have you heard about it?

"I have to say I never heard about this track. The only thing I know is it is not very quick and it is quite twisty. So, it could be quite nice for us. Also I'm looking forward to have more race track experience. For the moment I think I am close to 100 different race tracks I have driven on. Every time I go to a new track I am glad for the opportunity."

What do you think will be the most challenging thing at Barber?

"After the experiences of the last races, I think I will and we will focus very much on the penalty system. We get penalties. I'm really, really over penalties. I don't want any more. Last race we had one that we did not deserve in my opinion. It's very frustrating and very hard. It's really not proper punishment compared to the mistake we made. I really wish to have completely no penalties. If we do that we can have a very nice race.

The car is now more and more competitive. If we are penalty free, we are going to have a good result, I'm sure."

Now that the Krohn team has achieved another podium with the new Lola, do you think that it is finally starting to show the progress the team is really making?

"Definitely because every race we are closer and closer in performance. Even if the results generally were not really reflective of the car. Finally we can see that we are competitive. The other car showed that and we learn a lot because we race the cars on many different race tracks. I'm sure now that the real season starts for us. I think at a minimum, the other car will be on the podium in half of the races left. They're going to win soon too, I'm sure.There's nothing better than a podium to boost a team because the guys work so hard. The podium is really good for everybody. It has an effect on the moral of the guys and it's really good also for our car. It's a success not just for the team of the car that reached the podium but also for all the team in general, and all the spirit. It brings what we need. Now we can think about victories."

Nic Jonsson, driver, No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola:

What do you like about the Barber circuit?

"It's a very smooth race track. For the most part you don't have to compromise a whole lot as far as shock setting, springs and so forth. It's pretty straightforward race track as far as set-up. It's a safe race track, I believe. It has a lot of elevation changes, fast corners, stop-and-go. . So basically, it has a little bit of everything. The only thing I don't like is it is a little narrow for such a big field that is running there with so many DPs. It's very limited with places you can actually pass if you get behind. You have to be considerably quicker without taking too much of a chance."

Barber is the site of Krohn Racing's last victory -- in 2006 with Braun and Bergmeister. Colin & you had a good race last year - finishing 2nd. Is Barber particularly suited for Krohn Racing and its drivers?

"I think it's very much a drivers track. I do believe that we have pretty technical drivers that set-up the cars pretty well, together with our engineers. It's a technical track and suits technical drivers. That's probably why we've had success there in the past. It will be interesting to see how the new Proto-Auto Lola will do there. We've been running it since Homestead (March 2008). We've been up-and-down, especially in practice and qualifying as far as performance. It seems like we always had a pretty good car in race trim. Hopefully that will be the same case at Barber. Hopefully we'll get a little closer in qualifying and climb further up the grid. It is a narrow race track and was built and designed for motorcycles from the very beginning. So, it's very narrow and a hard place to pass. I think qualifying is going to be more important at Barber than at a place like The Glen (Watkins Glen), for example, where you have plenty of space to pass people. We're really going to have to work hard in practice to get a good qualifying run to start on the top two rows. That would be the goal."

Now that you've had another podium finish at the last event at Daytona, does that take some of the pressure off for the development of the new Proto-Auto Lola? And do you feel you are finally achieving the progress you are seeking with the new car?

"I wouldn't say it takes the pressure off. I don't think anybody really put pressure on us. Everybody expects a new car like a Proto-Auto Lola to take two-thirds or up to a full season of development since it's a completely new creation. Since we all have extensive experience in both sports car racing and oval car racing and are very competitive, I think we put more pressure on ourselves than anyone else put on us. We feel we should be able to get the car developed a little quicker. I think we've had a decent progression curve. It's just that we've had a lot of bad luck along some calls with pit stops that kind of put us a little bit behind in our results. Otherwise we've always been running in the Top Five in every race from a performance standpoint, both with lap times and as far as the position in the actual race. The Daytona race results were a confirmation that we are on the just right direction. There are so many very good teams, probably 10 to 12 teams with cars that can win races today. If you go back to 2006 when Krohn Racing won the championship, there were maybe five cars that could consistently win. The Series has really stepped up the level with teams, drivers, and equipment and become much more competitive. That's why everybody has to raise their game. We are obviously one of the teams considered a top team. I think we have shown we have some really good races this year with some good results with two podiums. It's definitely time for us to take the next step on the podium to the top step. I feel we need to do that for the crew and for Lola to help the whole equation to try to sell cars for next year. The goal will be to try to take that top spot this weekend at Barber."

Ricardo Zonta, driver, No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola: This will be your first time at Barber Motorsports Park. What have you heard about it?

"Yes, this will be my first time at Barber. I have not heard much about it but I watched the video form last year and the track looks good for our car. "What do you think will be the most challenging thing about the Barber race? "I think the most challenging part at Barber will be overtaking the GT cars and the traffic. The track looks to be very narrow so I believe overtaking will be difficult."

Now that the Krohn team has achieved another podium with the new Lola, do you think that it is finally starting to show the progress the team is really making?

"We lost many podiums this year already. Now we are going to optimize everything better including the strategy and the speed of the car. This will help us with better results for the rest of the year."

David Brown, Team Manager, Krohn Racing:

Now that you've had another podium finish at the last event at Daytona, does that take some of the pressure off for the development of the new Proto-Auto Lola?

"Really, no. It just gives us a little bit of a psychological push forward. We are still charging forward with the development of the car at the same pace. Now we're going to go to an entirely different sort of track. It couldn't be more different. It's the opposite pole in terms of track characteristics to Daytona. We'll see how the car performs there."

Do you feel you are finally achieving the progress you are seeking with the new Lola car?

"Yes, and we managed not to achieve several results which would have shown the performance earlier and better. Through various circumstances we managed not to achieve that. But I think we are making the progress we need to make. We'd just like to see a bit more of result out of it rather than just lap times during the race."

Barber is the site of Krohn Racing's last victory -- in 2006 with Braun and Bergmeister. Colin & Nic had a good race last year - finishing 2nd. Is Barber particularly suited for Krohn Racing and its drivers or what makes it special?

"It seems to have always suited the team when we ran the Rileys. It would be rash of me to attempt to predict how the car will go at Barber, based on recent experience. All I can say is we think we have a good database. We think we understand how to make the car work there and come Sunday afternoon we'll find out how right we are."

The Krohn Racing team, now in its third year of Grand-Am competition, is currently tied for fifth (No. 76) and 12th (No. 75) in the Daytona Prototype points chase after seven of 14 races this season. Jonsson and Zonta have a podium finish, a third-place at Mexico City, and a fourth-place finish in the season opening Rolex 24 At Daytona. Krohn and van de Poele have two Top 10 finishes so far this year, a seventh-place finish at the Rolex 24 and 10th at Mexico City.

One year ago Krohn Racing captured a podium finish (third) at the Daytona sprint race in July, with drivers Colin Braun and Max Papis at the wheel of the No. 75 Pontiac Riley. Additionally, the Krohn Racing team collected six podium finishes, three 2nd-places and three 3rd-place finishes, as well as two pole positions by former Krohn driver Colin Braun. Between the two cars, they had nine Top 5 finishes and 14 Top 10's. Krohn cars finished fourth (No. 75) and 13th (No. 76) in the Daytona Prototype series championship standings. Tracy Krohn was awarded the Jim Trueman Award for Sportsman drivers. Additionally, Krohn, Jonsson and Braun finished second in the GT2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

-credit: kr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Ricardo Zonta , Max Papis , Eric van de Poele , Colin Braun , Jörg Bergmeister , David Brown , Tracy Krohn , Nic Jonsson
Teams Krohn Racing