ORLANDO, Fla. (21 June 2021) – The Stoner Car Care Racing fielded by Automatic Racing team heads back to IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge (IMPC) action this weekend in Saturday’s Tioga Downs Casino Resort 240 (2:05 p.m. Eastern, NBC Sports Gold’s TRACKPASS) at historic Watkins Glen International.
Rob Ecklin Jr. (Lancaster, Pa.), Ramin Abdolvahabi (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) and New York local driver Brandon Kidd (Rochester, NY) will take the wheel of the No. 09 Stoner Car Care Aston Martin Vantage GT4 for the four-hour race, the second of two endurance events for the series this season.
The team has not seen IMSA action since March’s Sebring event, though they have been anything but idle. While earning three podium finishes in the World Racing League’s endurance events at Road America and Daytona (including a victory in the second of two eight-hour races at Road America) in it’s previous generation Aston Martin, the team has competed in over 30 hours of racing.
The team also conducted a two-day test at VIRginia International Raceway recently, bridging the gap between the older Aston Martin and the latest iteration, which is in its third year of IMSA competition. Between the race events and the test, the team and drivers feel more than race ready as they approach the weekend at the Glen, where they enjoyed the car’s first race lead in 2019.
“I feel very good about getting back behind the wheel of the 'new' Aston Martin,” said Ecklin. “We made some good improvements in the VIR test that we’ll take into this weekend. We know this track well, but the caveat is – we haven’t been here in two years. The last time we were here we led midway through the race, so we know the car has had pace here in the past. I always go humbly into this race weekend, knowing we have to get back into the “feel” of the track. It’s such a fast track and it requires commitment to get maximum speed, especially out of the Hairpin and The Boot, so it has its share of challenges.”
Kidd joined the team and the series in 2018 following multiple seasons racing late model stock cars, dirt track sprint cars and the NASCAR ARCA series. Born in Syracuse and living in Rochester, Kidd knows the area – but not necessarily the Glen. The weekend is the best chance his friends, family and co-workers will have to see him race (a registered financial planner, Kidd works with Rochester-based Pinnacle Investments, who will have a sizable contingent at the Glen).
“I’ve only raced at Watkins Glen twice before, both with the Stoner Car Care team,” said Kidd. “I’ve put a ton of laps in on my simulator, which is the next best thing. It’s one of the best tracks in the world to race on so to have that in my backyard is very special. It’s also quite special to be able to have family, friends and co-workers come to watch me race – and this is their only chance to do that. Access is getting better as we’re coming out of COVID, so we’re expecting a lot of people and that makes the race weekend even better for me. Few of my friends know much about racing so they always leave with a greater appreciation for what’s involved.”
The continued competition through the 2021 season has the team eager for a return to IMSA action this weekend.
“These guys are all warmed up,” said Automatic Racing team manager David Russell. “We may not have been running with IMSA, but we’ve been racing a great deal. The WRL runs on street tires, which requires the drivers to be a little more on the edge, so I think it will make the guys just that much faster. It’s been a great training tool, especially just the sheer number of hours spent in race mode. There’s a great deal of confidence in the team so hopefully those ingredients will add up to an inspiring weekend.”
The Tioga Downs Casino Resort 240, part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen weekend, takes the green flag Saturday at 2:05 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, currently scheduled to air Wednesday, June 30 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern (check local listings).