“This race was the hardest I’ve ever done, more so mentally than physically,” Paul Miller Racing’s Corey Lewis said after finishing in seventh following the two-hour and forty-minute GT-only IMSA race at Lime Rock Park.
The Paul Miller Racing team entered this weekend with what team founder, Paul Miller, described as, “basically a brand new car” following the teams withdraw from Canadian Tyre Motorsports Park as a result of crash damage in practice.
“We knew there would be a couple of issues,” Paul Miller said. The Atlanta-based team certainly had to trudge through the weekend.
A post-qualifying penalty turned their third-place grid position into a thirteenth grid spot. The car’s ride height was 0.5 mm too low to the ground, the team found the root of the problem to be a spring that had compressed in the extreme heat. With temperatures on the weekend often topping 35 degrees Celsius, this would not be the team’s only run-in with heat-related issues.
An ABS failure in Lewis’ first stint required an early pitstop to allow the team to power cycle the car. Now back to the tail end of the pack and fighting to stay on the lead, Lewis needed to get to work, but his job would become harder.
A water bottle failure would leave Lewis without anything to drink for the remainder of his one hour and 35 minutes in the car. “Physically I felt ok, but the heat is the biggest thing.” Lewis, who was filling in for an injured Ryan Hardwick said.
“It just took a strain on me. Not having the water bottle work in the second stint really took a toll. But more so mentally because the heat was so intense in the second stint, the temps in the car were tough but everyone has to deal with it. ‘We just kept digging! The whole Paul Miller Racing organization just dug deep,” he added.
With the post-qualifying penalty, the ABS failure, and the loss of the drinks bottle, it left the #48 Lamborghini Huracan squad on the back foot.
“Corey’s stint was stellar, considering he had no drinks bottle for a large portion of it,” team owner Paul Miller said. “He kept the car on the lead lap, giving Bryan a chance to continue to make up positions towards the end of the race. ”
Bryan Sellers took over from Lewis and clawed the car back up to the seventh position, where they would finish.
“I think we had a strong race car and in the end, I was able to run behind first and second and slot in place and hold position the whole time – so while we weren’t actually running third on track we were on third in line. So we were strong we just didn’t have any luck on our side today.” Sellers said.
The #48 Paul Miller Racing team heads to Road America eleventh in the GT Daytona team’s standings. They are 28 points behind Riley Motorsports, who sit in tenth, and are 81 points off the lead of the championship. The defecit is so large, in part because of its withdrawal from CTMP, which allowed the rest of the field to leap further ahead. Before CTMP, the team was 41 points off the lead of the championship.
Image courtesy of Paul Miller Racing