Wednesday, September 25, 2013

NASA Midwest @ Autobahn 4.5 hr Enduro - "Into The Night" - My Stint (#2 overall)!

After the 1st of many pitstops, I was leaving for my stint (#2 overall) around 5:55pm and the car was literally 1st in class; I think 5th overall.  Our fuel window was a few laps after the other in-class Mustangs and some of the GTS cars were having issues so we were in luck.  Suddenly running for fun and experience turned into 'we might have a podium chance'!
The car was pretty nice to drive really.  It was just before dusk, with only a few cars running lights and after the first few laps the sun was no longer blinding me - although my tinted visor came in handy; it completely blacked out the gauges so I had a difficult time figuring out the best shiftpoints at first. I was utilizing a borrowed cool-suit for the first time ever and very much enjoying that.  Being that we were utilizing the entire 3.56 mile course, there wasn't a lot of traffic but just enough to keep you occupied. 

Overall, after about 3 laps I settled into a pretty mellow pace, I think around 2:50 - as to protect all the gear.  My theory was if I was going to drive a full fuel load; why not try to stretch out the mileage a bit longer!  I was short-shifting and being easy on corner-entry for the first 1/2 of my stint as we discussed front tire wear being a potential issue over the 4.5 hrs of the race.  About midway through my stint we reached the overall 1.5hr mark which brought out a checkered flag (for those that optioned for the 1.5hr portion and not the full 4.5hr portion).  This cleared out a fair number of cars and the remainder of the my stint was even clearer.
After that I started picking it up; dropping a few tenths with each lap and running some 2:49's until the car hesitated under throttle - the sign my fuel stint was over!  I had ran for about 55min altogether and it wasn't even dark yet!

I brought the car into the pits and the team went to work on the 2nd pitstop as I helped our 3rd and final driver - Joe - get buckled in.  Note; I turned over the car 1st in class!  Once again; a flawless stop by the team of volunteers including 10 gallons of fuel and we were off once again.  Joe's stint would climb into the dark of night and the team was already trying to figure out the updated pit/driver strategy being our 50-55min fuel window we had been running; versus the 75min hopeful window we had initially.  Being we were still leading our class, the decision to stick with safe 10gal fuel loads had already been made.  The reason being if we spilled ANY fuel, we incurred an additional penalty of a pitstop and a 5min hold penalty - essentially costing 3-4 laps.

David (the owner; driver #1) thanked me immediately after I got out of the car for a terrific consistent pace and keeping the driving clean.  I told him - that's what I do!  He then said - count on another stint later tonight!  More to come...

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