SEBRING, Fla. (17 July 2020) – 2020 has thrown more than its share of challenges at every aspect of life including the racing industry, and Friday’s Advent Health 120 for the Michelin Pilot Challenge series was no different for Stoner Car Care Racing fielded by Automatic Racing team.
Everything from multiple race cautions, and even a red flag, for lightning, as well as a brief rain shower just before the restart, and a pair of spins on a treacherous track added to those challenges, as the race ended under yellow as skies began to darken once again.
With the racing season delayed for over five months due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Orlando-based team entered the second of three scheduled home races with high hopes. Shop prep had the team’s pair of Aston Martin Vantage GT4s – with Rob Ecklin Jr. and Ramin Abdolvahabi in the No. 09 Stoner Car Care Aston Martin, and Gary Ferrera and Kris Wilson in the No. 99 Invisible Glass Aston Martin – in race ready trim for both Thursday practice sessions.
With a compressed schedule, qualifying took place Friday morning just hours ahead of the race.
Abdolvahabi started from the seventh row in the No. 09, with Ferrera and the No. 99 taking the green flag in the ninth row of the two-class field. Ferrera got on the gas early, having made the decision to stay to the outside through the early turns – a decision that paid off, as several cars came together in Turn 3 and Ferrera was able to push his way through and up into 13th position, though Abdolvahabi got bottled up in the aftermath.
But a lengthy red flag due to weather after only 15 minutes of the scheduled two-hour event halted the team’s forward progress, with Ferrera and the No. 99 closing on the top 10 in 11th position and Abdolvahabi in 17th. Drivers were ordered out of their cars as several lightning strikes were reported in the area, with the delay lasting for 73 minutes.
No work could be done on the cars during the delay, so both Aston Martins returned to the track on slick tires, only to both suffer spins that put them back in the field. Quick crew work on the pair of pit stops put Wilson and Ecklin back into the fray hoping to make their way forward, only to see the final moments of the race end under yellow with the team in 18th and 19th position.
But despite the final tally, the team will take plenty of positives from this first race back in action.
“That was what we’d call a ‘learning day,’” said Ferrera, whose grandfather was once stationed at Sebring when it was an operational Air Force base. “I was happy with the start, though.
Kris had told me not to focus on anything but going forward at the start, and that worked for the most part. The track was difficult when we restarted, a combo of wet and dry, and when I spun, I had to wait for everyone to get by. But the car was great, and that’s a positive.”
“That was a very disjointed race,” said Ecklin. “Weather was part of it, of course. The track was decent when I got in, so we took just two left side tires and was hoping for some good lap times. I thought I could make up some positions, but I just never got into a rhythm. But we’re happy with the car, and that’s a positive. None of the gremlins that we encountered last year presented themselves this weekend, and Kris ran some good laps near the end of the race so we know the car is fast. As drivers, we need to step up and make it happen – just hoping to dial out the thunderstorms at Road America!”
Next up for the Stoner Car Care racing team will be the Road America 120 on July 30 through August 1, 2020. The race will be broadcast live in the U.S. on NBC Sports Gold’s TrackPass, while international viewers can watch via IMSA.tv. IMSA Radio will also be available at IMSA.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 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 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