Sebring, Fla. (15 March 2019) – The Stoner Car Care Racing team fielded by Automatic Racing continued its learning curve with the new No. 97 Invisible Glass Aston Martin Vantage GT4, battling hard throughout the two-hour Alan Jay 120, race two of the 2019 MICHELIN Pilot Challenge and part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Racing in the premier Grand Sport (GS) class, drivers Ramin Abdolvahabi (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) and Rob Ecklin, Jr. (Lancaster, Penn.) went into the day having made gains in traction control and braking, both necessary elements to manage Sebring International Raceway’s 3.74-miles of bumpy concrete and asphalt. Abdolvahabi, who had qualified the car in 19th position, took the green flag for what would turn out to be chaotic early going.
An incident between two cars saw that first lap end under caution, and on the ensuing restart, Abdolvahabi slid into the tires in Turn 10 when another car put a nose inside. He was able to return to the fray, but now a lap down. Ecklin took the wheel with 1:15 remaining in the sprint race as the team worked toward getting the lap back.
Making a calculated gamble with 40 minutes remaining and having Ecklin pit for fuel only, the team missed out on getting that lap back by the slimmest of margins when the leader exited pit lane just ahead. The strategy did place Ecklin in the thick of the lead battles, with he and the Aston Martin acquitting themselves well in the late stages of the race. When the checkered flag fell, the Invisible Glass Aston Martin had gained positions to finish in 19th position.
Ecklin, Abdolvahabi and Automatic Racing team manager David Russell believe the lessons learned in the initial forays with the new Aston Martin have paid off, as demonstrated by Ecklin’s ability to pace at competitive lap speeds late in the race despite running on tires that lasted his entire stint.
“It was unfortunate that we had the off,” said Ecklin. “After that, it was just a matter of putting down competitive lap times. We got the yellow we needed but missed getting the lead lap back by literally one car, though it was a lot of ‘fight back’ just to get to that point. The battles at the end of the race were good experience, and lots of fun. We had a good deal of wear on those tires, but the car drove well on the older tires against drivers who were out there on new tires. Even though we finished 19th, I wouldn’t give up that learning experience. We know the car is competitive, we kept it clean, we found adjustments from Daytona that helped us here so moving forward, we know we stack up well against the other cars. So it was a very positive weekend.”
“Everyone was trying to win the race on the first lap,” said Abdolvahabi. “I almost got hit a few times. I had a good restart after the yellow, but a car got inside of me and when I tried to go down a gear, I got on the gas too quick, the car came loose and I brushed the wall. It took time to get out and put us down a lap, so I feel badly for the team. But the car is strong, Rob was running with the leaders late in the race. And we know it can take a hit and still run great! It’s just a matter of learning more about the balance of the car, keep our noses clean and stick to our strategy. The car is really coming alive, with the hard work of (Automatic Racing team manager) David Russell and (driver coach) Kris Wilson.”
“I’m proud of the team for the hard work and determination today,” said Russell. “Ramin battled back after his incident, and Rob really showed what the Aston Martin can do against the competition. We learned a great deal in every single session with the new car, so we’ll take all this data back to the shop and come out swinging at Mid-Ohio.”
The NBCSN two-hour race recap of the Alan Jay 120 will air on Thursday, March 28 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. The Stoner Car Care Racing team will be back in action at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course May 3-5.
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.com/
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. www.stonercarcare.com
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. https://automaticracing.com