Round 3 Racing and Shift Up Now serve up a “Double-Double” out West
August 14th, 2020
This past weekend Round 3 Racing and Shift Up Now headed west to High Plains Raceway in Colorado for the 5th round of the 2020 World Racing League, and were served up a ?Double, Double? in terms of results ? with both cars finishing on the GP2 podium in both races.
While the event marked a home race weekend for Loni Unser in the #601 Team Cooper Tire Porsche Boxster, High Plains Raceway was a new track for Round 3 Racing as a team, and Sarah Montgomery in the #602 Shell V Power entry. Friday practice was spent tuning both cars and drivers, as those new to the track tried to adjust to the elevation changes throughout the lap, that Montgomery described as ?a ton of fun?, but also ?insane?.
An exceptionally tight GP2 qualifying saw Montgomery qualify the silver Shell Round 3 Racing ?Rocket? in third place for Saturday?s race – just 0.05 seconds off pole, and Unser qualify the black Team Cooper Tire ?Bandit? in P5, with the entire top 6 separated by less than 0.8 seconds. It was clear even from qualifying that the race this weekend was going to be ?on?.
Both Shift Up Now drivers started the first 8-hour endurance race at 9am Mountain Time on Saturday morning. Sarah Montgomery spent her stint harassing, and then finally passing a competitor car for second place, while Loni Unser climbed the Team Cooper Tire car up into podium contention.
Montgomery handed over the Shell V Power Porsche Boxster to Brad and Buz McCall for the middle stints of the race, while Unser?s team-mates James Candelaria and Dr Ron Hugate also took their turns behind the wheel in the Team Cooper Tire car. With the high temperatures, and high altitude at High Plains Raceway, the #602 car started to experience issues, and high hopes of a win transformed into anxious closing hours as the team wondered whether Rocket would make it to the end.
Both Montgomery and Unser were called upon to return to the driver?s seat, and close the race in their respective cars. Unser executed a flawless final stint in the #601 Team Cooper Tire Porsche Boxster, setting her best laps of the weekend to stay ahead of the now charging sister silver car piloted by Montgomery, and took the checkered flag in second place, her second podium finish of the season. Montgomery herself clinched the final podium position of the day for the Shell V Power entry.
?It felt so good to bounce back with this second place finish in the Team Cooper Tire car after a difficult weekend at Road Atlanta,? said Unser. ?It gives me confidence a win is coming! I?m looking forward to spending a lot of time on my Ricmotech simulator to make it feel like I have the home track advantage again at Virginia International Racway, like I had at High Plains.?
The following morning, when the second 8-hour race started, Sarah Montgomery?s determination to lead her team to a win was apparent for all to see. Her iron-woman 3 and a half hour stint gapped the second place car by 1 minute on the race track, and the Shell V Power team thought this might be their day.
Meanwhile Dr Ron Hugate had the honors of taking the first stint in the Team Cooper Tire Porsche Boxster, and he set the standard for the day by ensuring he handed over the car to James Candelaria already in a podium position. Loni Unser took the third stint at the wheel, consolidating their second on track podium of the weekend, before handing the #601 back to James Candelaria to take the checkered flag.
Unfortunately, back at the front of the field, fortune was still not favoring the silver Shell V Power Rocket, and the #602 slipped back into second place. Undaunted, Montgomery suited back up, dropped back into the driver?s seat, and mounted one final late race attack, consistently shaving seconds from the lead on every lap. However it was not to be, as her charge was thwarted by a tiny piece of debris that caused a puncture in one her tires, leaving her having to settle for second place, instead of the top spot.
?I?m extremely happy I was able to compete again this past weekend at High Plains with Round 3 Racing and Shell,? said Montgomery. ?As exciting as it is to leave the weekend with two podium positions, we are definitely hungry for a win, and we look forward to making that happen at VIR in a few weeks.?
Shift Up Now races again with Round 3 Racing at Virginia International Raceway on Labor Day Weekend with a 9-hour race on Saturday September 5th, and a 7-hour race on Sunday September 6th. Loni Unser will continue her campaign in the #601 Team Cooper Tire entry, and Sarah Montgomery will be back behind the wheel of the silver #602 Shell V Power Rocket.