Shift Up Now Athlete Michele Abbate completed a successful debut weekend at Mid- Ohio Sports Car Course, earning a top-20 finish for Round 8 of the Trans Am National Tour Series on June 23-26, and taking home the coveted Hard Charger Award.
Practice time was limited for Abbate, due to track cleanup on Friday and several incidents on Saturday. With only a handful of laps of practice time, the Grr Racing driver drove a personal best lap time of 1:30 on Friday, which she bested to 1:28.6 the following day in qualifying. This put her P30 on the starting grid for Sunday’s race.
The 34-car field took the green flag under dry conditions on Sunday. Abbate made solid passes, and avoided several multi-car incidents and two full-course black flags. The No. 30 Ghost Energy BC Race Cars Ford Mustang was one of the only cars to finish the race without any contact. Abbate made up 13 positions during the 38-lap race and finished P17.
“I had a front-row view of so many incidents so it was a mental challenge to stay focused and clean,” said Abbate. “We have some of the best road racing drivers in the nation competing in TA2 and most of them have plenty of experience at this track, so I’m happy with my personal progress in my debut here. I’m getting better every race.”
In reflecting on her debut season at the halfway point of the TA2 Championship, Abbate notes that although the team has had some unfortunate finishes due to contact, they’ve also seen some great progress as well.
The Las Vegas, Nevada driver has completed seven races in 40+ car fields and earned four top-20 finishes (Charlotte, Laguna Seca, Lime Rock and Mid-Ohio). For the remainder of the season, each track – with the exception of Circuit of the Americas – will be new to Abbate but she welcomes the challenge of adapting quickly.
“Heading into this season, I knew it would get the opportunity to expand my race craft, from a new car to a new team and a lot of new tracks,” said Abbate. “From an experience and learning standpoint, this season has been nothing short of amazing. The results on paper don’t do my season justice but my plan is to focus forward and absorb all the knowledge I can to keep coming back stronger.
“My favorite thing about racing TA2 in the National Series – besides having spec cars – is the car count. The field keeps growing and the amount of talent is massive, which pushes me to be better every time I’m out there in the Ghost Energy Mustang.”
Next weekend, Abbate heads to Road America for Round 9 of the TA2 Series season, alongside the NASCAR Cup Series on July 1-3, 2022.