ORLANDO, Fla. (15 October 2020) – The Stoner Car Care Racing fielded by Automatic Racing team – the Michelin Pilot Challenge track record holders at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta – hope to capitalize on the lessons learned both in last year’s outstanding qualifying run and last month’s race weekend at Road Atlanta as they look to make a strong finish in the closing stages of the 2020 IMSA season.
The team brings a two-pronged Aston Martin Vantage GT4 attack to the two-hour Fox Factory 120 on Friday (3:30pm ET, TrackPass), part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s Motul Petit Le Mans: Rob Ecklin, Jr. (Lancaster, Pa.) and Ramin Abdolvahabi (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) will take the wheel of the No. 09 Stoner Car Care Aston Martin Vantage GT4, while Gary Ferrera (Houston, Texas) and Kris Wilson (Palmer Lake, Colo.) pilot the iconic No. 99 Invisible Glass Aston Martin colors.
The weekend marks the team’s second race this season at the site of its 2019 highlight: Aston Martin Academy driver Akhil Rabindra set a new Grand Sport class qualifying record in the No. 09 Aston Martin, lapping the 2.54-mile circuit at 1:25.715-seconds, 2.611- seconds quicker than the previous mark set in 2018. That same No. 09 Aston Martin impressed in last month’s event at Road Atlanta, pacing among the leaders and leading the field ahead of the first set of pit stops, so hopes are high for the long-awaited breakthrough finish.
While Abdolvahabi, Ferrera and Wilson have extensive experience at the legendary road course, this is a new challenge for Ecklin, who makes his debut at the track this weekend.
“Since this will be my first time at Road Atlanta, I’ve been taking in everything I can,” said Ecklin. “It’s the first time I’ve had the chance to make this race and I’m anxious to get back on track. But I have been there before, when my daughter did a Skip Barber defensive driving school! I’ve been on the sim, looked at data and in-car videos, and have spoken with our spotter, Barry Waddell, who has a great deal of experience there. I like what I see: it's a flowing track with very fast sections. And the Aston Martin clearly likes it there, it was very competitive last month, so it’s up to us to run clean and put in some good times.”
Ferrera, in his third race event at Road Atlanta, has put in enough laps to feel comfortable joining his fellow drivers in helping to coach Ecklin when needed. As the chief financial officer of the largest ATM owner/operator in the world, job one this week has been turning the focus from his job to his passion.
“I’ve raced at Road Atlanta enough that it’s starting to feel like home,” said Ferrera. “This car likes the track and it does well there. It’s a fun track, with the elevation changes and the varied types of curves. But the biggest thing we have in our favor this weekend is the extra test session on Wednesday. Kris, Ramin and I have all driven here so we’re all here for Rob! The speed of the first few turns is more challenging for the heavier front-engine car, and the last turn takes some getting used to, so once he masters that he’ll be fine. For me – as for all of us, I suppose – the toughest thing is getting my mind off work!”
The Orlando-based Stoner Car Care team considers Road Atlanta its third home track, behind Daytona and Sebring. With team engineer (Kirt Wightman) hailing from the Braselton area, there’s no lack of local knowledge for team manager David Russell.
“I love Road Atlanta,” said Russell. “It’s a proper racetrack, and it’s always a good weekend. It’s our third home, behind Sebring and Daytona, and our engineer is from there, so we know the track really well. And it’s a good track for the Aston Martin.
“This will be Rob’s first race at Road Atlanta, and this is the perfect time to do it, with all the practice time on the schedule,” continued Russell. “And Ramin ran with us there last month so we’ll prioritize getting Rob as much seat time as possible, though I don’t think it will take him long to get up to speed. And it’s important that Gary and Kris both just drove there, so it’s fresh for them, since they aren’t driving as regularly as some of the other series drivers. We just need to get that good finish on Friday. We had our share of issues here last month, but we had the pace, with both cars running close together so that bodes well. We have a good baseline and will continue to work on that.”
The Fox Factory 120 takes the green flag on Friday at 3:35 p.m. Eastern. 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.