FOGARTY: Mid-Ohio Runs Bring Confidence

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Jon Fogarty says a pair of solid runs has his team excited for the upcoming Pirelli World Challenge races at the Utah Motorsports Complex.
Jon Fogarty says a pair of solid runs has his team excited for the upcoming Pirelli World Challenge races at the Utah Motorsports Complex.

Hey again everyone, it’s Jon Fogarty. We are getting ready to go to Utah Motorsports Campus for the next round of the Pirelli World Challenge sports car series.

Before I get into our last race at Mid-Ohio and the upcoming Utah event, I want to give my condolences to Bryan Clauson’s family and friends for the loss of Bryan this weekend.  He was a tremendous racing driver and will be missed by all who knew him and loved to watch him race. A great champion gone too soon.

Our last racing weekend with the GAINSCO Insurance “Red Dragon” McLaren 650S was a pretty good one at hot and humid Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course two weeks ago. We raced with the IndyCar Series again and that always makes for an interesting track surface. Plus, there were the smaller open-wheel classes on track too. So you have a variety of rubber being put down on the asphalt.

Our McLaren felt good from the get go and I could be aggressive around that challenging road circuit in the middle of Ohio.  It is a physical track and I’m sure glad I did my biking and workouts prior to going there.  It’s hot, humid with off-camber turns, slippery track surface and very physical.

We tested on Thursday at Mid-Ohio and the car was good.  Then our GT practice session was rained on Friday afternoon, so we went into qualifying a little blind on Saturday. The track had become fairly slick with the different series rubber.  But the Mid-Ohio circuit fit the McLaren well as the K-PAX boys (Austin Cindric and Alvaro Parente) took the front row and we finished up fourth on the Saturday race grid.

We actually had two completely different GT races on the weekend at Mid-Ohio, as the Saturday’s event was a caution-filled race that was tough on the drivers and the teams. I got a good start and dropped into third behind Cindric and Parente. The GAINSCO car was strong and I thought we had a good shot for the podium. But with the yellow flags, it was tough to a rhythm. On the third restart, Bryan Heitkotter had more straightaway speed with his bigger Nissan and just got me going into turn four. The McLaren is a good cornering car but does not have the straight line speed of the other GT cars.

I tried to fight back but the slick track surface didn’t have enough grip for that.  I was able to hold off Ryan Eversley and his Acura for fourth at the checkered flag.  Ryan and I had good racing battle.  I felt we had a better car for the Sunday race.

The Sunday race lineup is setup by the fastest race lap from the Saturday race.  Late in the race, I threw in a good lap time which I was third or fourth for Sunday.  But right on the last lap, three guys nipped us by a tenth of a second or so.  That is hard to take when you jump out of the car feeling good about your race.

So, for Sunday, I had to start seventh and again I got a good start.  Picked up a few spots early. However, Cindric had early contact with another car and I was then pushed off into the grass in turn four.  I lost three or four spots and we ended up placing seventh.  We actually had a better car than that.  But it wasn’t a bad weekend and we move to Utah now.

After Mid-Ohio, my family and I got to go camping for a few days in the Oregon hills and that was fun. But I returned to working on my physical training to prepare for the heat in Utah.

Conditions will be the challenge this weekend at the Utah Motorsports Complex for Jon Fogarty.
Conditions will be the challenge this weekend at the Utah Motorsports Complex for Jon Fogarty.

We expect the temperatures to be close to triple digits but the humidity shouldn’t be like Mid-Ohio.  It is like the desert out by the track in Utah with wind and sand blowing on the racing surface.  So conditions are much different from the previous race.

I feel good coming to the Utah event since we had two days of testing there in June.  I have had some success there too, since we won the Grand-Am race in 2009 and place third in 2008. But that was on the bigger 4.5-mile full course.  This weekend, we will compete on the outer track that is just over three miles and has 14 turns.  Should be an interesting weekend.

I’m also looking forward to the Utah trip since my ten-year-old son, William, will be traveling with me.  Just a father-son trip on this weekend.  I know he’ll have a good time helping the crew guys too.  Now we just want to get back up on that podium again, especially after getting so close at Mid-Ohio.

You can watch our races live this weekend on www.world-challenge.com and www.motortrendondemand.com with live streaming.  Have a look at some really good sports car racing.