Summit Point was the first day that James took to the track. Despite having countless hours in his own Evo, this was really the first track day that he had in my car. Our buddy Jesus, was local to the track and was there for the day to hang with us. Throughout the day, he was able to give us some notes on how to pick up the pace at this track. We checked the tires, and did a rotation early to help save them. We had no idea how long they were expected to last on the road, so we wanted to be sure that we had enough tread to get back to South Bend.
With that taken care of, we put the car back down on the ground and got into grid. It was the first day that the weather wasn't terrible, and Ashely ventured around the paddock to get some pictures of cars making their way around the track. Brandon put down a stellar time of 4:11 in the One Lap RS for RS Motors which was good for 2nd place in the session. These guys continued to outperform, and were a testament to what a well setup car could do in the hands of three phenomenal drivers.
When it was James' turn to hit the track, he went out and put down his laps. In the video, you can definitely tell that he's still getting comfortable. He was off the pace, with a total time of 4:40.610 and finished in 31st for the session. When he got back to the paddock, Jesus and I really let him have it. Both of us knew he was faster than this, and something was holding him back. Only some of it was driver comfort in the seat. I could tell that he was still uncomfortable of racing someone else's car in a time attack. I literally had to sit him down and yell at him for being too cautious with the car. A big part of success at OLOA is trust between drivers. The car was paid off, and I knew nothing was going to happen, even if he did push the pace. We just had to convince him of it too.
After suiting him up again, James went out with some new confidence. In the morning session, he came through turn 10 tentative, modulating the throttle until after the apex. In the second session, he went for broke. Much faster everywhere, he shaved 19 seconds from his combined 3 laps. The finish was good for 14th overall and was the highest finish we had up to that point. An incredible improvement, this was when he and I really started to find our groove in the car, and on the track.
With the day's racing out of the way, we set out on the longest travel leg of the trip, toward Bowling Green Kentucky. As we were lucky to finish up early at summit point, we stopped at a Uhaul to downsize our trailer. All told, it took us an extra hour or so, but at least we had less cargo weight to deal with. With a travel distance of nearly 650 miles, it was a late night before we were able to get into the hotel. Because I had driven NCM in the past, I was going to take the driver's seat for the next day. That meant some extra time in the back seat catching some Z's during the travel leg, to try to be ready for the next morning.