What a pair of weekends I’ve just had. I am still on a major high after our ongoing success that we are having with our race team. The cars, crew, engineering staff, PR team and everyone has just been top notch over the season. We put in a lot of work so far and we are starting to get some pretty good results, which is our main goal in the end.
First off, having two Canadian race weekends in a row is gift – after finishing second in the IMSA TUDOR race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, I was able to take the win in the Pirelli World Challenge in Toronto. When you start competing in an international racing championship, you only race on home grounds once or twice a year. As you grow up, you always want to come back home and compete in front of family, friends and fans
The past two weekends were very touching to me. Not only did our Viper team score a strong second and third-place finish at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, but our team also got onto the podium twice this weekend in Toronto.
SRT Motorsports decided to enter a brand new Dodge Viper SRT GT3-R into the competitive Pirelli World Challenge championship and the series was pretty familiar to me, as I competed in the series from 2006 through 2010. Having great success in the past, the team asked me to compete in a two-race weekend in Toronto. I already had some experience at the Toronto circuit having competed there on-and-off from 1999 to 2010 in various cars from Formula cars to big, hungry V10 Dodge Vipers.
The Toronto race weekend got off to a great start. We brought in a brand new chassis with pretty much zero miles on it. It went through a minor shakedown, but besides that we had never tried launching the 600-plus HP, beast from a stand still. And as you might know, all the World Challenge races are standing start versus the ever-popular rolling start.
Am I a fan of standing starts? Absolutely. I grew up racing with more standing starts than rolling starts and I think it's the right way to start a race. It’s extremely exciting to the fans and heart pounding for the teams.
After the first two practice sessions, my engineer, Matt Bejnarowicz, was dialled in on the chassis setup. With the Viper dialled in, we ended up qualifying second for the first event. The first race got off to a great start with good battles along the way. After 50 minutes of racing, we finished in a strong second place after a last-minute charge on the leader. As it worked out, I was basically saying, ‘See you Sunday, my friend!’
Sunday’s race was setting up to be a fierce battle just by talking to fellow competitors on the pre-race grid. Everyone had that look – the eye of tiger was in everyone's eyes, ha! Due to damp weather starting conditions, the race utilized a rolling start and I again raced from the second position. It was simply great seeing the Viper starting up front.
The race, for those who watched it, was a nail biter the whole way. I had an incredible battle with Nick Tandy, in the No. 31 entry. We swapped paint on three or four occasions and the crowd reacted by going nuts, which is exactly what we need in road racing.
After I took the lead on the third turn of the first lap, our Viper team ended up leading all the laps and winning the race. I cannot even begin to explain how exciting it was to win on home grounds in an international world-class championship. It was such an exciting weekend and, again, this team just seems to carry our momentum forward to each next event.
The goose bumps still surface with the joy of winning and it feels really good.
See you at Indianapolis Motor Speedway,