Podium of Thoughts on 2022 Six Hours of The Glen
1. Lightning: The Tampa Bay Lightning may have lost the Stanley Cup Sunday night, but the real lightning won one hour of the Six Hours of the Glen.
Just after the massive crash in the Toe of the Boot (where I was near at the time, but of course I was looking left when it happened to the right), the red flag came out. At first, we worried it was due to the driver, Jeff Westphal, being in serious trouble. But, it was just a coincidence (though, I'm sure the No. 39 Carbahn with Peregrine Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo team wished the red flag was just a few minutes earlier).
The reason was lightning in the area and the call to take cover came over the PA system. Considering there is nothing in the Boot section to take cover under, the warning was not very helpful.
Though there was lightning in the area, the system wound up skimming the race track, producing little rain, only a slight increase in winds, and some thunder. It cleared out in time for IMSA to start a 35-minute clock which resulted in a 20-minute green flag sprint to the finish. This gave the fans a proper finish to satisfactorily go home with.
But for the teams, it meant teeth clenching, hair pulling tension. Since no work can be done on the cars during the red flag, many cars were not going to make it to the finish without a splash of fuel. But, that would all come down to when the green flag would actually wave. One team owner was cheering enthusiastically every lap the field remained under yellow.
This was nearly a repeat of last year's finish. It was nearly that dramatic. In the end, Acura, the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing team (Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor) finally won at Watkins Glen in the DPI era. On paper, it was not a surprise as Acura dominated the entire weekend.
But lightning strikes in various guises, and nothing was certain till the checkered flag waved.
2. When Second is First and Two Firsts is a First: As if the race wasn't crazy enough with the red flag and the sprint finish and the fuel ramifications. Drive time wound up being the deciding factor in both GTD classes. And one team was the beneficiary of it all.
That team was the Heart of Racing, which probably should have been called the Luck of Racing.
When the race resumed, the #23 Aston Martin GTD Pro car (Alex Riberas and Ross Gunn) was in sixth place. The #27 GTD car (Ian James, Roman De Angelis, and Maxime Martin) was second. Many of the GTD Pro cars had to pit for a splash of fuel. When the checkered flag flew, they were both in second place. So, how did they both win the race?
The dreaded drive time requirement.
Each class has minimum drive times for each driver on a team. Not to get too bogged down in the discussion (I was told there would be no math), IMSA adjusts the time requirement when race time is lost due to a red flag. However, since red flag time does not count (for that matter, neither does any time spent in the pits), and some teams were relying on that lost hour to fulfill some of their driver's time requirement, it was impossible to meet.
Thus, nine teams were disqualified due to not meeting the drive time requirement. This included the first place cars in both GTD Pro and GTD. Ergo, for Heart of Racing, second place meant first place. Twice.
And those two firsts were the first time a single team won both GTD classes.
Oh, and another first -- this was the first time a GTD winner beat a GTD Pro winner overall. Considering this was all amongst the same team, I am sure there is going to be a lot of intrateam ribbing going on at the Heart of Racing.
3. Miata Mania: Question: Is there any more exciting support race than the Mazda MX-5 Cup?
Nothing more needs to be said.
Lobotomy of the Race Award: To the drivers of the two LMP2 cars which ultimately caused the massive crash just before the red flag. Fabio Scherer (No. 20 High Class Racing) and Dylan Murry (No. 29 Racing Team Nederland).
Multi-class sportscar endurance racing requires a certain amount of respect amongst drivers of different classes to keep it as safe as possible. In a sense, drivers need to look out for each other.
So, when two lobotomized drivers in the same class are playing demolition derby with each other fighting for position while navigating their way through the slower classes, disaster is bound to happen.
It did, when Jeff Westphal's Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo was sent hard into the barrier on the right and then ricocheted into the barrier on the left. It could have been tragic.
A pox on the both of you.
Special Mention: Next year's Six Hours of the Glen.
The word going around Watkins Glen was next year's event is going to be run on Saturday, starting late afternoon and running into the night. Similar to how some races back during the Grand Am days were scheduled. If so, we give a huge thumbs up.
Granted, there actually won't be too much driving in the dark. In those parts at that time of year, sunset is 8:48 P.M., give or take. So, unless the race starts at around 4:00 P.M. the end of the race will be more like twilight.
However, it will still be cool seeing the lights break through while the sun is setting, perhaps enjoy some glowing brake disks, and maybe most importantly, not have the fans bake in 90+ degrees for the whole six hours.
Do it IMSA!
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