After coming up less than a second short of victory in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on Sunday, Meyer Shank Racing (MSR) had high hopes for a top result during the WeatherTech 240 at The Glen on Friday. But Turn 1, Lap 1 contact prevented the team from racing forward after sustaining damage as the team finished the two-hour, 40-minute race sixth.
MSR drivers Dane Cameron and Olivier Pla experienced ever-changing weather conditions throughout the two-day event at Watkins Glen, but were eager to race the No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Acura ARX-05 DPi after Pla qualified for the front row on Thursday.
Pla’s hopes of coming home with a Watkins Glen victory went up in a plume of tire smoke just moments into the race when the No. 60 Acura was sent spinning after the No. 01 DPi made an ambitious pass going into Turn 1. Once back on course and without race-ending damage, Pla continued his charge through his stint. Once up to pace, Pla reported flat spots as well as a very loose Acura which differed significantly from the stability that the car had earlier in the race weekend.
Cameron took the controls after the first pit stop as the team surveyed the damage on the No. 60 from the first corner incident. But Cameron’s charge was put on hold following a red flag on lap 34 due to rain and lightning in the area. With the clock continuing to run, the field waited for the weather to clear before getting the go ahead from IMSA 45 minutes later.
The team took the first pit opportunity on lap 38 to replace the front end and the rear wing assembly, as well as working to address the damaged floor in hopes of giving Cameron the stability and additional downforce needed now that the track was damp from a rain shower.
Running sixth, the team was looking for every opportunity to gain an advantage and decided to make the strategy call to bring Cameron back into pit lane on Lap 41 for a splash of fuel. Now back on track with a fuel advantage it was all eyes forward until the checkered. But a second caution period eliminated that advantage as the rest of the Prototype field was able to go to full rich on fuel as Cameron raced into fifth late in the race.
Suffering from the damage, the No. 60 didn’t have the pace to fight forward and Cameron brought the car home in sixth.
“After the pitstop for the front and rear change, the car was a lot more consistent, but it still hurt us,” said Cameron. “The car just got hurt in a really sensitive part, so that cost us performance. It was pretty tricky out there, some of the Prototypes nearly lost it even behind the pace car. I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like on the restarts but it turned out to not be too bad.”
Pla was disappointed to see the race get off to a tough start despite the team working so hard to put together a strong car for the race weekend.
“The whole race just seemed like it was done from Turn 1 when I had the contact with Magnussen,” said Pla. “There wasn’t much that I could do and it seemed like a dive bomb. I was on my line and I was not trying to close the door. After that, there was lots of damage to the floor of the car and it was a tough race from there.”
The Meyer Shank Racing IMSA team will have a month-long break before returning to racing action at Road America August 5-8.
Source. Sunday Group