Dan Knox and Lone Star Racing Bring Mike Skeen Back to “Home Track” For Michelin GT Challenge at VIR
DANVILLE, Virginia (August 24, 2016) – Led by Texas-based team owner and driver Dan Knox, Lone Star Racing will make its Virginia International Raceway (VIR) debut at the Michelin GT Challenge, August 26 – 28, where Mike Skeen will co-drive the team’s No. 80 ACS Manufacturing/Lone Star Racing Dodge Viper GT3-R.
Knox and Skeen will race the ACS Manufacturing/Lone Star Racing No. 80 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT Daytona (GTD) division in the featured two-hour and 40-minute VIR race at 1:35 p.m. EDT, Sunday, August 28. Live coverage on FOX Sports 1 (@FS1) begins this Sunday, August 28, at 1:30 p.m. EDT.
The Michelin GT Challenge at VIR is one of four scheduled IMSA races for Lone Star this year as Knox and his team evaluate a full season of competition in 2017.
Lone Star made its 2016 racing debut this past May at Laguna Seca and built some momentum for a good VIR weekend with a top-10 finish two weeks ago in the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Making just the third career start for the team in the IMSA GTD class, Knox drove the race-opening stint at Road America and ran as high as sixth as the GTD field came in for first pit stops just under an hour into the two-hour and 40-minute race.
“I had my fastest lap time of the weekend in the Road America race so that’s very positive,” Knox said. “It just comes down to more seat time and more practice. Everything went really well, so we’re going to take that away, be very positive and build on it at VIR.”
Knox handed the Viper off to Skeen during the first pit stop at Road America and the No. 80 finished the race in 10th place in a close and highly-competitive field, on the lead lap and only a little over 10 seconds behind the GTD race winners.
“Road America does have some similarities to VIR,” Skeen said. “Obviously, high-speed corner data will transfer pretty well and heavy braking zones too, but the main thing is just general stuff that we can apply to make everything go more smoothly for the whole team.”
Knox is ready to take another step up in the Michelin GT Challenge.
“I am going to work hard on improving my lap times throughout the weekend and try to be a better qualifier,” Knox said. “If we start a little higher up at the beginning of the race I think our outcome will be much better.”
While VIR will be an all-new experience for Knox and Lone Star Racing, Skeen will be making his first race start in seven years on a circuit the North Carolina-resident calls his home track.
“The VIR track is a great facility,” Skeen said. “I basically grew up there through high school and my first formative years racing cars were at VIR and I have got a lot of laps around there.”
Skeen has not raced at VIR since the 2009 Trans Am race due to scheduling and commitments in other racing series, but he is frequently at the track for driver coaching and testing.
“I have had a lot of memorable adventures racing at VIR,” Skeen said. “Mostly back in my first years of racing cars in the NASA SpecE30 class. That was some very tight racing with many different classes on track, and it led to some great on track battles, splitting traffic, diving to the grass, passing in the esses, all of that good stuff. I think those years really honed some of my race craft and have made me a better driver today.”
A highlight of IMSA’s return to VIR is a newly repaved racing surface around the 3.27-mile track.
“I have actually been fortunate enough to drive the track a bit since the repaving at some club events in the last two weeks and am happy to report it’s the same great track,” Skeen said. “In talking to Kerrigan Smith, the Track Manager, I know they have done their homework and put in a lot of effort to make sure the surface is the best it can be for us. I can’t wait to race on it!”
A full three-day event, the Michelin GT Challenge begins Friday with a pair of one hour practice sessions at 11:30 a.m. and 3:35 p.m. EDT.
A third and final one-hour practice goes down Saturday at 8 a.m. EDT and sets the stage for the 15-minute GTD qualifying session later that morning at 11:55 a.m. EDT.
Race-day Sunday opens with a 20-minute warmup at 8:05 a.m. EDT, the final tune-up for the Michelin GT Challenge, which is scheduled to start at 1:35 p.m. EDT for two-hours and 40-minutes on the 3.27-mile VIR road course.