ROAD AMERICA, ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN — It was all about strategizing on the fly in the action-packed Road America 120 on Saturday, August 4th in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
The #81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i sponsored by Legistics, Veristor and Racing to End Alzheimer’s was fast all weekend. Driver Nick Galante won the pole with an average speed of 95.393 mph – and with co-driver Devin Jones led the ST field for 47 laps compared to their closest competitor’s 11. But as anyone who follows the drama-filled IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge knows, it’s not always enough to be fast.
Coping with the variables
Galante, after an exciting early battle, was in the lead when a car in the GS class flipped and caught fire on lap 15. Just like that, the dynamics of the race changed. A long full-course caution – followed by a second caution later in the race – forced every team on the track to reassess carefully plotted strategies in real time.
The stakes were high: The timing and length of the cautions added an unpredictable variable for teams calculating fuel mileage to the last gas fume. The precise moment each car chose to pit for fuel, tires and a driver change would determine whether they’d have to sacrifice precious seconds to pit again for fuel later in the race. For the BimmerWorld team, that was a nagging worry until they crossed the finish line.
Devin Jones: “We had that long caution, and we were able to come out second and stayed right there with the MINI. I knew as the run went on his tires would fade a little bit, so I just kept the pressure on him. He was stronger in some areas of the track, but I was stronger in other places, so I was able to set him up and finally made it stick after a couple of times trying. From there, I played the traffic a little better with the GS cars and we got a little bit more of a gap. But then we knew we were going to be close on fuel. Even from the beginning of the stint, I really had to save a lot, so I couldn’t enjoy those last few laps. I had to really baby it around to save on fuel.”
A winning combination
The strategy – and the street smarts – paid off. Not only did the team win at Road America, but the victory extended their points lead with just three races remaining in the hard-fought ST class championship.
Nick Galante: “I think this was definitely a pivotal point in the season – extending that lead just a little more like we needed to. The Pombo brothers have been really tough, and they’ve been really great. They’re making this season truly fun because they’re making us work really hard for it.”
The Road America 120 race will air on FOX Sports 1 from 9:30 am to 11:30 pm Eastern time on Sunday, August 12. The next race for BimmerWorld Racing will be the Biscuitville Grand Prix on August 18 at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Va. (the team’s home track).