Connor Finishes Eighth Sunday in Corning 100 Menards Infiniti Pro Series Race at the Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., Sept. 25 - Larry Connor from Centerville, Ohio finished eighth in Sunday's Corning 100 Menards Infiniti Pro Series race at Watkins Glen International here, rebounding from a crash in practice on Friday that badly damaged his car, Genoa Racing's No. 36 Dallara sponsored by The Connor Group.
After working hard to make repairs, the Genoa Racing crew and their driver were very heartened by the fact that Connor ran laps in the race that were 3 seconds faster than he ran in practice or qualifying here. What's more, those laps were run without being in the draft of another car, further underlining their accomplishments.
As a further testament to Connor and the entire Genoa Racing team's hard work here, they finished just one position behind the car that won the series championship last year, even though this was Connor's first race in this series.
Connor started seventh in the race and did a great job missing an incident in turn one right at the start.
"In the first corner, two cars got together ahead of me," he noted. "I had a little gap and I went down and missed them."
He picked up one spot at that time, and ran in sixth for the first eight laps. Phil Giebler pressured him very hard, and got by him on lap nine. Nick Bussell and Jaime Camara wiggled by him on lap 10 to push him to ninth, and he ran in that spot for five laps. Bobby Wilson, who had been fifth, pitted on lap 15 to move Connor to eighth place, and he maintained that position the rest of the way in what turned out to be a 29-lap race.
"We were down on power and the last five laps the rear tires were going away, but all in all for a first-time effort it wasn't bad," Connor said afterwards. "The crash on Friday put us behind and we didn't have much practice, but we ran 3 seconds a lap quicker in the race than we ran in practice or qualifying, which was real good. We were running in the low 43s during the race, about a second and a half slower than the leaders. I would have liked to have finished further up than eighth, but we brought it home in one piece and for our first effort, it wasn't bad.
"Genoa Racing did a great job to get the car repaired and in good shape for the race after our crash on Friday," he emphasized.
"The track didn't have much grip," he added. "It wasn't bad, but there were damp spots and it just didn't have much grip." The wind also picked up during the race, but Connor said that didn't affect him.
Connor posted the fifth-fastest time in the first practice session on Friday afternoon when he took only 2:00.7407 to travel over the 3.37-mile, 11-turn road course at an average speed of 100.480 mph.
The trouble struck in the second practice session. It rained off an on all morning and into the early afternoon, and in that practice session Connor hit a wet spot on the track in turn 10 that sent the car spinning wickedly like a top three or four times before it crashed into the wall. Connor reactivated a back injury in the crash but luckily he escaped serious injury, although the rear and left side of the car suffered extensive damage.
That's when the pressure turned up a wick for the Thomas Knapp-led Genoa Racing team, but its members did a terrific job to get the car repaired in time for the next practice session on Saturday morning.
That practice session was more of a shake-down run for the team following the repairs than a true practice session, and in testing the car's limits Connor spun in that session too. That time he didn't hit anything and he was able to provide valuable input into the car's set-up for qualifying less than two hours later. Before the spin he ran a lap in 1:46.9800 (113.404 mph), good enough for 12th in that session's rundown.
Connor's qualifying time on Saturday was a 1:46.7159 (113.685 mph), which put him seventh on the grid. Travis Gregg, who has run all the races and was second in the point standings going into Sunday's race, qualified one spot down in eighth place.
Connor was fifth in the rainy 15-minute warm-up session on Sunday morning, running a 2:10.4190 (93.023 mph) on his first of four laps.
Sunday's race was taped by ESPN2 for broadcast at 3 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Sept. 29. Jeff Simmons won the event followed by Marco Andretti and Wade Cunningham.
Additional information can be found on the Internet at indyracing.com, theglen.com and restartcommunications.com. For more information on Connor's sponsor, see theconnorgrp.com.