SCC: VIR II: Lawson Aschenbach preview

Aschenbach Forced to Miss Rolex Finale; Returns for KONI Event at VIR Rolex GT driver sits out Banner Pontiac for the Grand-Am finale when struck by illness, but returns to the Georgian Bay Cobalt for the KONI round at VIR. "It's hard to plan...

Aschenbach Forced to Miss Rolex Finale; Returns for KONI Event at VIR

Rolex GT driver sits out Banner Pontiac for the Grand-Am finale when struck by illness, but returns to the Georgian Bay Cobalt for the KONI round at VIR.

"It's hard to plan for an unexpected medical issue!" said Lawson Aschenbach after being forced to skip the season ending Grand-Am Rolex GT race at Miller Motorsports Park last weekend.

Aschenbach, picked by General Motors to drive alongside eventual 2008 Rolex GT championship winning drivers Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards in their Banner Pontiac GXP.R at Miller, found himself in the hospital just days before the event.

"The Sunday before Utah I ended up in the hospital with a freak training injury. It all started a few days earlier and wasn't anything out of the normal workouts I do to keep myself in prime shape for racing. Afterwards I started to feel very sore and stiff in my arms, which seemed to me like a mild strain and no big deal. After another two days and the soreness and stiffness getting worse, I decided to call my doctor and see what he had to say. He mentioned I should get to the hospital because it sounded like I had something called Rhabdomyolysis.

"Basically is involves the breakdown of muscle fibers and the release of myoglobin into your bloodstream. This can be harmful if it's not treated and there are different levels of how bad it can get. The doctors thought that a combination of a dehydration, the workout, and possibly a simple virus probably all came together at the wrong time and made this happen. After a blood test confirming my doctor's thoughts, they started treatment. Treatment is very simple as long as it's not too bad -- tons of IV fluid and drinking a bunch of water. Basically, they want to flush your system. I figured I'd be in an out in a day and that I would be at Utah with no worries, but my arms were so sore after two days that I had to call [GM Road Racing Group Manager] Steve Wesoloski and tell him I would be sidelined for the race. "

Aschenbach, no stranger to championships and race wins, was still crushed at having to forfeit a ride with the top team in the Rolex GT series. "That was probably the hardest phone call I've ever made--calling someone to tell him you can't make it for a race. It was so frustrating, but I knew it was for the best. Although I probably could have made it out there, I wouldn't have been 100% and that wasn't fair to Paul and Kelly with their championship on the line. After a few days I was out of the hospital and now I'm back home training again getting ready for the VIR Koni race. Fortunately my condition wasn't so bad and I don't have any lingering effects."

Lawson served as a factory GM driver in 2007, driving for Cadillac and ran in a Pontiac GXP.R in 2008; Utah was to be Aschenbach's second time driving for the Banner team. Despite his familiarity with the team, he remains thankful to have been tabbed to drive with Collins and Edwards.

"Obviously it was an honor to be asked to drive with Paul and Kelly and the Banner Engineering team in the championship leading car, those guys are absolutely the best of the best and it would have been a great experience. I've been pretty fortunate to have some great teammates in my career, and these guys would have made that list even better. I was really looking forward to the opportunity to get back in a Pontiac and run with a first class team."

With his health back to 100%, the 24yr old Maryland native is preparing for his next Grand-Am, race, the Bosch Engineering Twin Six Hours at Virginia International Raceway, October 4th-5th.

Drafted into another title-contending GM team, Aschenbach will make his third appearance driving for the Georgian Bay Chevy Cobalt SS KONI ST team. Lawson's first two outings resulted in a win and a second place finish.

"I'll be running at the VIR season finale with Georgian Bay in a Chevy Cobalt. It's been awesome racing with Jamie and the Georgian Bay guys, the Cobalt is a blast to drive and a new experience for me this year. It's such a comfortable car it didn't take long to figure it out. It's a perfect fit and I expect more good things at VIR. It was great getting the win at Iowa, my first time in the car and Jamie has done an exceptional job all year."

With the 2008 Rolex season having concluded and the chapter about to close on the KONI championship, Aschenbach is talking with a few different Rolex and KONI teams about 2009. If the opportunity presents itself, he'd like to pull double-duty in both series. A step up to Daytona Prototypes would also fit the rising star's career arc.

"At the moment I'm talking with a number of teams and trying to find the best fit to make a run at a championship next year. That's my focus. I'd love to stay in a GM product and I would also love to continue in Grand-Am in the Pontiac GXP.R. I feel like I have some unfinished business in the GT class, but I'm also ready to step up to a DP program. There's a lot of testing going on over the next few months, and I hope to show a DP team what I can deliver. The KONI series is also a passion of mine; if I can add an ST or GS program to something in ROLEX, I'll be really happy. I'm definitely looking forward to 2009 and racing for wins and championships!"

-credit: lawsonaschenbach.com

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Paul Edwards , Kelly Collins , Lawson Aschenbach