Strong Weekend for Stoner Car Care at Mid-Ohio

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The No. 97 Stoner Car Care Racing fielded by Automatic Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 delivered its most competitive run of the season on Saturday, pacing in the top 10 for the first half of the Mid-Ohio 120, race three of the 2019 IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge season.  

Drivers Rob Ecklin Jr. and Brandon Kidd worked hard to manage the difficult conditions at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, with the race starting in dry, cool weather until light rain set in at the halfway mark of the two-hour race. 

Ecklin took the green flag in 15th position in the Grand Sport class and drove an impressive opening stint, making smart moves and running lap times with the leaders as he worked his way through the field up into seventh position. 

In only its third race, the new-for-2019 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 performed flawlessly, helping Ecklin make the most of each lap despite the changing conditions. 

With several early cautions slowing the action, the team decided to make it a one-stop race with Ecklin running exactly to the fuel level when his stop was due just at the halfway mark.

Unfortunately, the strong track position that Ecklin had earned was lost after the pit stop exchange was complicated by an issue with the refueling rig. Compounding the lost time was a subsequent stop-and-hold penalty that Kidd incurred by leaving the pit lane under the red light.

Kidd, racing the Aston Martin in the rain for the first time, went out on slick tires and ran on the “rain line,” the rougher asphalt off the regular racing line as the caution period continued. 

Having to come into pit lane for the penalty once the race returned to green, the team made the decision to switch to rain tires to enable him to run in the regular racing line, so he could get used to both setups and file that information away for future use. Running solid lap times as the rain continued late into the race, Kidd brought the car home in 18th position.

“It wasn’t dry, but it wasn’t a downpour when I got in – it was that awkward in-between,” said Kidd. “We could have gone either way, with slick or wet tires, and in the end we ran both, as this was my first opportunity to race in the rain in this car. I felt much more comfortable at the end of the race. Everything changed when we had the issue with the driver change: it’s really tight, with the gas guy being right at the door. You’re trying to fit three people into one location, so you really have to ballet it around. I’m disappointed because Rob did such a great job and I know that if it had stayed dry, we would have been up there. We were really fast.”

NBCSN will broadcast a two-hour race recap of the Mid-Ohio 120 on Monday, July 8 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Next up for the Stoner Car Care Racing team will be the four-hour Tioga Downs Casino Resort 240 at The Glen, live on IMSA.tv.

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