Orlando, FL – Shea Racing faced many ups and downs during the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course weekend although their desire to overcome and support from their fans ultimately earned them a successful finish to the Pirelli World Challenge weekend.
Predicting weather became the biggest obstacle for the team to overcome. During Friday’s practice sessions all drivers were proven to be fast in the dry. With these conditions they were confident their performances would lead to positive results. Shea Holbrook, put her No. 67 TrueCar, Lucas Oil, Radium, Hendrick Honda Civic Si on pole position for Round 9 and Jason Cherry third in the No. 13 Autism Society of America/Avpro/Purposeful Architecture Mazda MX-5. Teammates P.J. Groenke and Paul Holton in the TCB class slotted into the fourth and sixth spots.
With rain in the forecast, the crew was prepared for a quick Pirelli tire change to rains if needed on grid for Race 1. A moderate drizzle rolled in while cars entered the track for pre-race ceremonies. Then, the rain came.
“It was a gamble and everyone had slicks on. The rain came and at this particular track you must learn and use the rain line, especially on slicks. The first several laps we needed rain tires. It was manic out there,” said Holbrook.
Half way through rain went away and sun broke out through the clouds, the track was drying up.
“With how terrible the conditions were in the beginning some of us (including me) went into pits to switch to rains. This ultimately wasn’t the right decision as the track dried up and it became difficult to keep the lead pace while many were on slicks,” Holton said, driver of the No. 65 Radium, TrueCar, Lucas Oil, TBC Honda Fit.
Meanwhile, there was an intense three-way battle for second in the TCA class. Holbrook charged from fourth to second passing both MX-5’s in the Keyhole with just laps to go. On the final lap Holbrook and Cherry made slight contact ultimately pushing them back to third (Cherry) and fourth (Holbrook).
Groenke, drove smart in the rain and was able to avoid some terminating incidents to find himself in the Top 5 capturing fourth place. Holton, with a tough break took twelfth place but was able to hold onto third spot in the championship.
For Saturday’s race, Round 10, rain came and went just in time for a battle for what some called, the pivotal point in the TCA and TCB championships. With Holbrook just points behind the championship point’s leader she had to win to close the gap. Holton needed to finish in the Top 3 to hold third in the championship.
A mix-up on the start of the race bumped Holbrook back to fourth but regained the lead with a huge pass on Lap 4 earning her the StopTech Brake Late, Finish First award. From there, she was confident in her ability and her Hendrick Honda Civic Si to secure her fifth win of the season. The win also provided Holbrook a needed bounce back Friday’s race.
“Our preparation, hard work and perseverance is paying off but we’re still having to overcome obstacles. This is such an emotional season for me because the effort from so many to get us here is finally paying off. I just want to prove that we can do it,” Holbrook said.
Jason Cherry, found himself in a back-and-forth battle for third, which he ultimately took.
The TCB race was perceived as one of the best battles with the leading four drivers all exchanging the lead four different times. PJ Groenke, in his No. 66 Verax.ca, Tundra, Mulligan Gold, Honda Fit looked to follow up his fourth place in Round 9 with a podium in Round 10, and led the first two laps but slid off track exiting Turn 1 later in the race and eventually dropped back to ninth.
“The track was drying out and the exiting curbing was too. Just not the exit of Turn 1. I slightly dropped my right side tires off which is normally fine but with the previously wet conditions it snapped the car around. If we can just funnel the momentum we’ve had into the next four races I’m positive we’ll have many more successes,” said Groenke.
Holton had a comeback from Race 1 securing a Top 10 finish crossing the finish line in seventh.
“It obviously wasn’t quite the weekend I was hoping for but I was able to take a lot away from it heading into the Brainerd International Raceway weekend, August 30-31st,” said Holton.
Holton also just made his debut in the Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge at Road America where he respectably finished 21st in the ST class. Holton was running upfront although suffered a mechanical problem towards the end of the race setting him back seven laps.
Holbrook holds onto the 2nd spot in the TCA championship with just a 33 point difference, Cherry 3rd, Holton 4th and Groenke 6th.
Next: Brainerd International Raceway for Rounds 11 and 12 August 29-31st.
Thank you Jack, Tommy and the whole Wolf family for coming out to the races! Help the team support Duchenne muscular dystrophy by raising awareness and share this release.
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