The EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, round seven of 14 in Grand-Am Rolex Spots Car Series competition, was won by defending Grand-Am DP champions Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty in the No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Pontiac Riley. Eight...
The EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, round seven of 14 in Grand-Am Rolex Spots Car Series competition, was won by defending Grand-Am DP champions Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty in the No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Pontiac Riley. Eight cautions for 37 laps were caused primarily by rain, which fell for the majority of the race.
Nic Jonsson, starting driver of the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola, led the Mid-Ohio race for three laps (lap 34-36), all under rainy conditions. It was the first time the new Proto-Auto Lolas have seen rain this season, so all the Krohn drivers had to learn how the car handled under wet conditions and with rain tires. In addition to leading the race, Jonsson also had the team's best qualifying position of the season, a fifth place start. He and teammate Ricardo Zonta finished ninth overall.
The No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola of owner/driver Tracy Krohn and Eric van de Poele qualified 13th and got as high as third place early in the race before and penalty and brief off-road excursion relegated them to a 14th (DP class) finish. Everyone was challenged by the rain and the two and three-quarters hour Grand-Am race finished under yellow flag conditions following a multi-car wreck on the front straight.
Tracy W. Krohn, team owner/driver, No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola: "I got in for my stint with brand new wet tires. It was very slippery. What I thought was a bad call turned out to be a mistake on our part. We pitted under the wrong set of conditions. We thought we had pitted after the window but we didn't get that timing right and it cost us a drive-thru penalty plus 20 seconds. Eric did a great job the first part of the race. We tried a little different strategy with the car at first and we put some rain tires on just prior to the start of the race. We were hoping it was going to rain a little quicker than it did. It didn't rain quite quick enough. It took about four laps instead of two or three. As it was, the strategy worked out okay and we actually moved up a couple of position, but we had thought we would end up being first. Eric got hung up by some GT cars. He ran a really solid, solid race. He had one little mishap but no big deal. He came back and turned car over to me. I went out with that set up and pushed hard and ran the thing off the track. At that point in time I was just hanging on. It was very treacherous. I took the drive-through penalty. It was unfortunate for me because I was right up there with the pack and just trying to learn the track rain line. I started to push immediately and just made a mistake and went off track.
The bottom line is we learned a lot about the car. This is the first time we've run in the rain. We learned some of the strengths and weaknesses of the car and some things we need to work on. All in all, it was not a horrible day, but not the day we expected. Nic and Ricardo ran up front for a good while. They also had a little strategy issue but it wasn't because of what they were doing. They did a great job and car was good and it just continues to get better. It really does continue to get better but the performance doesn't show it yet. With the rain, Mid-Ohio is a different kind of track, very treacherous. It's really very technical anyway. You add a little rain and it just gets exciting. The fans got a show today!"
Eric van de Poele, driver, No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola: "It was interesting in the rain for the first time. We did not have the best set-up and it was really tough, quite difficult. However, I really like the rain conditions. I got the car up to third. Even if I spun a few times, like everybody, I had a lot of fun. But, unfortunately we did not have the finish position we wanted. It's a bit disappointing, but in another way, we are there. We were third at one point, so it means we can compete. We still a need a better car for any conditions, but we closed the gap. We definitely closed the gap."
Nic Jonsson, driver, No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola: "Qualifying was the best qualifying so far this year, so we're very pleased with that. We had a threat of rain all day but it didn't start to rain until several laps into the race. But beforehand, we had to sort out what we were going to do with tires and all that. We knew the rain was coming, so basically we decided to go with high down force for the race. We started the race with a huge push in the car. It started raining pretty bad and this is the first time we had to drive it in the rain, so we didn't know what to expect. It was extremely difficult to drive in the rain. You had to be very careful with throttle application. I found out the hard way when I spun in Turn 1 a few laps in. Fortunately I was able to get those lost positions back. We were pretty much running second most of the stint. Unfortunately, we decided to pit too late. We went from second down to 16th.
Ricardo got in and, obviously, also had never driven the car in rain before. Once he got dialed in and got going, he started gaining on people. Then the track started to dry out. We then picked up a huge push and, unfortunately, could not keep the pace. The race ended three laps early when there was a big wreck on the front straightaway. I think if that had not happened we could have gotten a few more positions, maybe in the Top 7. We are still having a little struggle to get the car the way we want. We just have to keep our head down and keep plugging away and sooner or later things will turn around for us. We have all the ingredients -- a good crew, good engineering experience, a very good package overall. We just need to put all those cards in the right place to make it work as one unit. We are all experienced enough and been there before so we have to keep working hard. We will keep working on trying to get it right and we will. We will."
Ricardo Zonta, driver, No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola: "I think the only race we could talk is about Nic's race because it was very good. He did a very good job. We lost the race in the pits. As soon as we pitted late, we lost the race. There's not much to say. I had to learn the car in the rain like everyone. This point doesn't matter because we were the same speed in the rain. After we got behind we could not do anything. We lost the race there."
The next Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race, Round 8 of 14 will be the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday night, July 3rd.