AUSTIN, Texas (September 19, 2016) – Dan Knox and Lone Star Racing closed out their 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule with a season-best finish of eighth in Saturday’s Lone Star Le Mans at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in the No.80 ACS Manufacturing/Lone Star Racing Dodge Viper GT3-R.
Along with co-driver Mike Skeen, Knox and Lone Star Racing ran an exploratory schedule of four IMSA GT Daytona (GTD) races this year as the team evaluates options for a full-season program in 2017.
“We’re very excited the way the four races have gone,” Knox said. “It’s our first time coming into the series and we could have had a couple top-five finishes without some small issues. Other than that, you can’t ask for anything better than the outcomes we’ve had in each race.”
Lone Star’s four-race 2016 calendar, which also included Laguna Seca, Road America and VIRginia International Raceway (VIR), was deliberately planned to conclude at COTA, Knox’s and Lone Star Racing’s home track.
After qualifying the Viper on Friday, Knox pulled the race-opening shift on a track he knows well.
Knox and Lone Star made their first IMSA race start in a one-off run last year at COTA with Marc Goossens co-driving. The team finished seventh in the 2015 debut but found more difficult conditions this past weekend.
“It’s much more difficult to run in this year’s GT3 format because of the downforce,” Knox said. “You’re sliding and slipping everywhere, but Mike did a great job.”
Knox stayed with the GTD field throughout his driving shift and pitted to hand the No. 80 off to Skeen at the race’s 30-minute mark.
“Dan did an excellent job starting off,” Skeen said. “He stayed with the group and did the best he’s done all year. It’s really nice that he had a good performance at his home track. The car was really good when he handed it over to me, and there was a yellow pretty early in my stint, so I was able to catch back up to the rest of the group.”
Never losing track of the leaders, Skeen quickly began racing his way into the top 10 before the No. 80 was hit with a pit drive-through penalty for an on-track contact incident with a Prototype competitor.
“I had a couple of awesome battles there fighting in the fifth, sixth and seventh place areas,” Skeen said. “I felt really good that we might come away with a top five, but unfortunately we had contact with a Prototype and got a penalty. It was a fair call I think, I hate that we had contact, it wasn’t intentional, I didn’t want to ruin their race, but it ruined our race too.”
Skeen rebounded from the penalty to cross the finish line in eighth – Lone Star’s best showing in its four 2016 races – but the No. 80 team saw a likely top-five finish slip away late for the second-straight race.
One race ago at VIR, Skeen was running fifth when he was forced to the pits late in the race with a right-rear suspension issue on the Viper.
“We had a good, strong run so it’s hard that it only shows an eighth place finish on the results sheet,” Skeen said. “We could have had top-five finish, just like we almost did at VIR. The most frustrating part is that we won’t race here in this car in IMSA again, so it would have been great to have a really solid result at home.”
Knox and Lone Star Racing Team Manager and Lead Engineer AJ Petersen plan to focus on the team’s 2017 racing plans in the very near future.
“We’re looking forward to next year and have been actively reviewing our options and trying to create some opportunities all season,” Petersen said. “We will continue to stay focused on the future and look forward to the 2017 season. As far as we are concerned, next year’s racing season started today for Lone Star Racing, and we will continue the all-important hard work that takes place away from the track.”
About Lone Star Racing: Based at Motorsport Ranch within the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area in Cresson, Texas, Lone Star Racing is in its third season campaigning the No. 80 ACS Manufacturing Dodge Viper GT3-R. The team is running a four-race IMSA GT Daytona (GTD) program in 2016 after debuting in the class with a seventh-place finish last year at Circuit of The Americas (COTA). Although Lone Star Racing is new to IMSA, its team members have won races across North America spanning sprint and endurance racing formats. The crew has worked together on many different teams and various types of cars, developing a strong bond and proven capability that gives them a competitive and winning advantage. The team races with the support of primary partner ACS Manufacturing, Inc. (www.acsmanufacturing.com). Look for Lone Star Racing and Dan Knox on Facebook and follow the team on Twitter @LSRTeam.