Lexington, Ohio. (4 May 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.
“The early going was just awesome,” said Ecklin. “It was fun racing this new Aston Martin, getting competitive with times and race positions, making some good decisions on track, racing my peers and anticipating moves, it was fun – but it was a lot of work! It was dry to start and I was able to get by a few guys early, then got in some good battles through the early laps. We got some solid restarts and just focused on good lap times and picking moments to go after the cars ahead of me. It was unfortunate to have the problem with the driver exchange and the fueling rig, it is really tight quarters back there. And then it started to rain during Brandon’s stint, so it was really changing conditions in the second half of the race.
“But the Invisible Glass Aston Martin is an incredible car to drive,” Ecklin continued. “It’s got great feel, launching off the apexes really well. We’re really coming to grips with the car now and I know we’ll continue to be up near the front.”
After his hopes for a dry race didn’t come to pass, Kidd made the most of his time behind the wheel to grow his racing experience with his first laps in competition in wet conditions.
“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.
About Invisible Glass
Automatic Racing sees their way to victory with Invisible Glass, the top-selling automotive glass cleaner in the United States. The Invisible Glass product line includes aerosol and spray bottle cleaner, Invisible Glass with rain repellent for windshields and wiper blades. Find more online at https://www.invisibleglass.
About Stoner Car Care
Stoner Car Care produces high-performance car washes, waxes, polishes, and dressings for auto enthusiasts and car care professionals. The Stoner Car Care line-up includes Invisible Glass, America’s #1 Automotive Glass Cleaner, along with many other appearance products. Whether driving, washing or waxing, Performance Matters! Stoner car care proudly formulates all of our product since 1942
About Automatic Racing
Based in Orlando, Automatic Racing is one of the longest-running teams in the paddock, forming in 2001 and competing in all but one of the 11 MICHELIN Pilot Challenge races at Daytona. The team has been developing, preparing and racing the prestigious Aston Martin Vantage GT4 since 2012. Automatic Racing won the 2017 MICHELIN Pilot Challenge title.