Year-over-Year Improvements Only Tell “Half the Story” for Brynjolfsson, Park Place in IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge
Thursday, September 12, 2019

For Alan Brynjolfsson in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, the only constants between last year and now have been the color of his No. 7 race car, his co-driver and Mike Johnson.

It was an offseason shake-up for the Floridian, who is currently wrapping up his third year in Pilot Challenge. He handed over the reins to strategist Johnson, who arranged a connection with longtime Porsche team Park Place Motorsports.

That move following the 2018 season finale at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta triggered a switch from VOLT Racing’s Ford Mustang GT4 into Park Place’s Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport. The car, however, is still as easy as ever to spot with its familiar neon yellow livery, and Brynjolfsson continues to share the seat with Trent Hindman, as he has for two years now.

“Really, it all centered around Mike Johnson,” said Brynjolfsson. “I consider Mike to be the ‘Bill Belichick’ of the Michelin Pilot Challenge paddock. He always seems to put together a great team and the right strategy and win. I’ve got a lot of faith in Mike, so it was really all about making sure Mike Johnson led our team.

“Last year, it was my own team, VOLT Racing, and we kind of did the hiring and managing of everyone. This year, I decided to just put Mike in charge and let him run the show. He set up the relationship with Park Place and hired all the people and ran everything. It’s worked out great.”

It’s especially worked out because it’s allowed Brynjolfsson to focus solely on his driving. Through eight of 10 races this season, the results are in and the gains are impressive.

Brynjolfsson and Hindman sit fourth in the Grand Sport (GS) championship standings, up five positions from this time last year and only 18 points out of second place. The team already has as many top-10 finishes, five, as in all of 2018. Also, the team’s average finishing position is up three positions year over year.

But as Brynjolfsson points out, there’s more to meet the eye when reading those statistics.

“Up several places from last year only tells half the story,” he said. “This year, we have a lot larger field and a lot more competitive field. In 2017, I think there were maybe 13 regular competitors. Now there’s 24, two years later. The (field) size has grown and the competition has grown. I think the improvement we’ve had is even twice as good when you consider how much more competitive the field has gotten and how much larger it’s gotten.”

Brynjolfsson is quick to give credit where credit is due. This season has been particularly rewarding co-driving with Hindman, as he’s watched the youngster dominate the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona (GTD) class during his rookie season in the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3. Hindman and co-driver Mario Farnbacher currently own a 37-point lead in the standings and can clinch following Sunday’s WeatherTech Championship race should they leave with a margin of 35 points or more.

“The true lynchpin has been Trent,” said Brynjolfsson. “He’s really turned it on this year. He’s a young guy, he’s always been fast, but his performance in WeatherTech demonstrates what a great driver he is. He’s had so many pole positions, they’re leading the GTD championship and it shows he can win. We really know all we have to do is give him the opportunity.”

The new machine also has been instrumental in the team’s Pilot Challenge success this season. The No. 7 Porsche has zero DNFs to its name right now, showing the quality of the car.

“That was one of the big decisions moving to the Porsche,” said Brynjolfsson. “When we saw how competitive it was getting with the larger entries, it was more important than anything to make sure you had a car that would be in it every race.

“We chose the Porsche specifically because we knew that it wasn’t about winning individual races, but it was having quality finishes race after race without one misstep. So far, the Porsche has been perfect in that regard. We haven’t had one mechanical or one issue during a race due to the car.

“When it gets this competitive, you need to have a great team, a great car and great drivers. We’ve been able to put that whole formula together. I’ve got to give a lot of credit to my team where no one has made any mistakes, whether it’s on pit stops, strategy, prepping the car and in driving. It’s more than just the car, at this level you need all the components.”

The two-hour WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca 120 goes green on Saturday, Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. ET. The race can be streamed live on IMSA.tv with IMSA Radio commentary. The NBCSN television broadcast of the race will air at 1 p.m. ET Wednesday, Sept. 18.

For news and updates throughout the weekend in Michelin Pilot Challenge, please visit IMSA.com or join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #IMPC.

Tickets are still available at WeatherTechRaceway.com.

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