SEBRING, Fla. (18 March 2021) – With a steady effort in brutally hot conditions, Stoner Car Care Racing fielded by Automatic Racing secured a top-10 starting position for Friday’s Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 (2:35 p.m. Eastern, TRACKPASS) at Sebring International Raceway, race two of the 2021 Michelin Pilot Challenge season.
With only two practice sessions ahead of the qualifying session, drivers Rob Ecklin, Jr. (Lancaster, Pa.) and Brandon Kidd (Syracuse, NY) focused on finding the optimal setup for their No. 09 Stoner Car Care Aston Martin Vantage GT4 as quickly as possible. Ecklin, a Sebring veteran, worked closely with Kidd throughout the practice sessions, as Kidd was making his Sebring debut.
With ambient temperatures of 90 degrees and track temps over 100 degrees, grip was at a premium as Kidd took the wheel for the 15-minute qualifying session. Making steady progress with his lap times, managing traffic as well as the heat and resulting lack of grip over Sebring’s 3.74-mile combination of concrete and asphalt, Kidd posted his quickest time on his final lap. Setting a lap time of 2:13.102, he placed the Aston Martin in the 8th position for tomorrow’s two-hour race.
Kidd was both happy and disappointed with his effort – pleased with his best IMPC qualifying effort in his first time at the legendary road course, but ruing time lost in traffic on that final lap.
"It was a very tough session with the track conditions changing quickly and the extreme heat,” said Kidd. “There was less grip out there this afternoon than there had been during the morning practice and I really feel as though there was more in the car, but we were able to get ourselves an eighth-place start for the race tomorrow. There is always a perfect lap out there, but the Stoner Car Care/Automatic Racing team did a great job and we’re happy with these results.
"This is the first time that I have raced here at Sebring, and it is always difficult to show up to a new track with the competition that we have in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series. I prepared a lot before I got here, on iRacing and on the simulator. Even though we did not have a great deal of seat time, I knew what to do as soon as I got into the car because I prepared so much. Sebring is such a fun track that does separate the good drivers from the rest. It is quickly becoming a favorite track of mine! To win tomorrow, we will need to maintain track position as well as keeping the car clean. Putting that all together with quick pit stops will keep us in contention at the end of the race."
The Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 takes the green flag Friday, March 19 at 2:35 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. NBCSN will broadcast a two-hour race recap on Friday, April 2 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern (check local listings).