What do IMSA drivers do on their off weekends? They go racing of course!
Fresh off of racing at Road America last weekend in IMSA competition, both Andy Lally and Matt Bell will be competing on another historic road course this weekend: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The pair will both be running the NASCAR Xfinity Series Mid-Ohio Challenge race at the 2.258-mile, 13-turn circuit. And though the cars could not be more different, that racer’s drive to succeed remains the same.
Lally and Bell are former Stevenson Motorsports teammates – having co-driven the Camaro Z/28.R in IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge in 2014. Lally currently drives an Acura NSX GT3 for Michael Shank Racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship while Bell drives the new Camaro GT4.R for Stevenson Motorsports in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.
Arriving to Mid-Ohio, Lally brings a vast background in NASCAR. He’s made 38 NASCAR Cup starts and this weekend he will make his eighth NASCAR Xfinity start. This year he’s driving the No. 07 Branson Supply Chevrolet for SS Greenlight Racing.
“Mid-Ohio is a really exciting and challenging place to race a stock car,” said Lally. “It is tight and twisty which does not suit the higher weight of these stock cars and that makes it difficult to put a solid lap in. For me personally, stock cars on road courses are the most fun combination of race car and track there is. Winning a NASCAR race in one of the top three series is the only thing missing on my list of goals in auto racing and I have to thank Branson Supply, Motorcrush, TruForce, Pennington & Associates General Contracting and my friends at Aase Sales for jumping on board to help our small underdog effort. I’m racing the No. 07 this weekend with SS Greenlight Racing and since the colors matched and the number was very close we chose to make it an Alan Kulwicki tribute scheme. The car looks amazing, now our job is to make it as fast as it looks.”
Lally finished seventh at Mid-Ohio last year in the same car that Bell will be driving this weekend – the No. 90 Actev Motors Chevrolet for King Autosport. In fact, the two drivers have already exchanged notes about racing at the Ohio road course.
“Andy (Lally) helped me a lot even before we were teammates when I ran at Road America for the first time in a stock car – he was a huge help there,” said Bell. “Andy drove this No. 90 car last year and he’s already offered to give me some pointers since he has experience with this exact car. I’ll try to learn as much as I can from him and Justin marks, who I’ve known for years. Andy is a huge help with his knowledge about the team, and about the car, and about the track. It’s a really friendly sport and really anybody you talk to is friendly and happy to give you pointers. It’s pretty awesome.”
With Lally’s years of stock car racing, he is able to offer the kind of advice that comes only from experience.
“Matt (Bell) knows how to drive fast, what I can offer is some help with some of the details with the small stuff that can be tricky when transitioning from one style of racing to another,” offered Lally. “Everything from pit stop advice, dealing with wheel hop, garage flow and what to expect from the tires during a long run are things that need to be experienced over and over to get perfect. Those are just some of the things that when added to the list of new things that need to be perfect in order to have a great result are tricky to remember and get the hang of when you only drive these cars once a year or in Matt’s case, every few years. I have had these same conversations with experienced NASCAR drivers that have come to sports car racing. You almost need two brains. You need to disconnect a lot of what your routines and habits are in sports car racing and learn a whole new process.”
Both Lally and Bell are two-time winners in their respective IMSA series so far this year (Detroit & Watkins Glen for Lally, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park & Lime Rock Park for Bell) and each hopes to carry that momentum into the Mid-Ohio Challenge on Saturday.
The NASCAR Xfinity Mid-Ohio Challenge is set to go green at 3:30 PM ET on Saturday, August 12.
Source. Sunday Group