What could have been Meyer Shank Racing’s fourth IMSA podium finish of 2020 was knocked into the grass on Saturday night after contact from behind on the last lap of the 100-minute race sent Farnbacher down the order to finish seventh.
Adding to the already tricky 2.32-mile Charlotte ROVAL, the weather decided to add one more factor to the quick sprint race with heavy rain coming through in the afternoon on Saturday.
Making his first qualifying run at the ROVAL, McMurry hoped to redeem himself after just nearly missing out on pole position at the previous IMSA event at Mid-Ohio. The session was cut down due to a red flag, but McMurry continued to show the impressive pace that the young American has delivered for MSR in 2020 by clocking a fast lap time that was just 0.1-seconds short of the pole, locking the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 on the second row for a third place start.
The shortest race of the season got underway following a delay from the NASCAR Xfinity race that saw MSR driver AJ Allmendinger win in challenging conditions. MSR announced on Friday that Allmendinger would return for his 15th Rolex 24 At Daytona in 2021.
A heavy downpour prior to the green flag once again doused the track and caused several areas with standing water which pushed the green flag back an hour. With low visibility in the all-GT field, McMurry maneuvered through a clean first lap to maintain third.
It was 30-minutes of utilizing each lap as a learning experience to manage the areas of standing water and low grip. But unfazed, McMurry moved up to second before his pit stop on Lap 15. Once again, the MSR crew out performed the rest of the GTD field in pit lane and sent Farnbacher back out in the GTD lead.
After leading for 15 laps Farnbacher ran wide going into turn 1 as he defended his position. Per the rules at the ROVAL, if a car exceeds track limits, the car must come to a complete stop off line on the race surface. Farnbacher served his penalty on Lap 33 and was able to keep the Acura third in the order.
A podium finish was in sight as Farnbacher made a final restart with just five minutes left on the clock, but a shove from behind by a championship rival sent him spinning in the chicane which dropped him down the order. Escaping without any damage, Farnbacher brought the Acura home in seventh.
The No. 86 MSR Acura NSX GT3 maintains the provisional Team and Driver Championships heading into the next round at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta for the 10 hour Motul Petit Le Mans on October 17th.
“This weekend’s schedule was quick and tough and the rain certainly did not make things easier on the drivers and the team. The ROVAL is a very tricky course that lacks grip and when you throw the rain in there, anything can happen. Our focus was to have a clean race and get championship points. Our guys once again knocked the pit stop out of the park and we jumped a few cars there. Today, we should have gotten a podium finish, but unfortunately things like that happen. We’re still in the championship lead but we’re hoping to extend that after Petit.”
“It was pretty wild in my stint with the rain. Multiple corners had rivers running across them and turn 1 was basically a lake. I just kept it clean and made up positions that way. Then we had a super fast driver change and made it into the lead. It’s a shame that had to happen at the end of the race. Mario was on the way to a podium finish when he got hit from behind. We’ll take what we learned here and apply that to Petit next weekend.”
“It’s a frustrating result for us. We struggled with getting the car to turn in the conditions and then the windshield wiper failed so I was running without a wiper the whole race. The penalty did not help us either. I hadn’t broke on the outside like that and I broke on the seam. I didn’t want to overshoot the braking zone, so I decided to go straight and unfortunately that gave us a penalty with me having to stop on track. On a positive note we had a really great pit stop and the guys got me back out in the lead. Now we just put our heads down and focus on Petit next weekend.”
Source. Sunday Group