After 10 hours of racing in the Motul Petit Le Mans, Jr III Racing celebrated a first-ever IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship podium result with a strong run to second place on Saturday. The second-place finish is the best race finish of the season for the team, which made its WeatherTech series debut earlier this year at Road America. Drivers Garett Grist, Spencer Pigot, and Ari Balogh combined in the No. 30 Airbnb Ligier JS P320 to lead the race on the way to a well-fought second place result.
Balogh took the green flag for the 10-hour endurance in the No. 30 Ligier from the fourth row, and made a steady march up the running order on the way to taking the LMP3 lead on lap 99 before pitting to put Grist in the car.
A race that saw eight full course cautions saw the team continue to adopt the strategy as the light faded and temperatures dropped. Grist completed three pit stops while he held the LMP3 lead for 67 laps. Grist never slowed during his double stint posting the fastest LMP3 lap of the race of 1:15.942-seconds on lap 174.
Grist brought the No. 30 Airbnb Ligier JS P320 to pit lane on lap 204 where Pigot climbed onboard for his first race laps. As the sun began to set, Pigot strapped in for a triple stint. He battled back and forth with the eventual winners, never falling below second as the team delivered timely pit stops through his long run into the darkness, which went for over four hours before turning the car over to Grist.
Grist dove into pit lane for the final time from the lead where the Jr III Racing crew were ready to put 30 seconds of fuel in the car. The Canadian pushed for 26 laps before the No. 30 Airbnb Ligier JS P320 took the checkered flag in second.
“It was a really good day and the team did a really great job,” said Pigot. “Obviously it’s Jr III Racing’s first ever Petit Le Mans, and only the second WeatherTech race for the team, so to come away with a podium and really have no issues at all on track and on pit lane is pretty amazing. Everything went smooth for the most part, so I’m very happy with the result. Obviously we would have liked to challenge a little bit for the win, but this podium is a great result.”
The podium result comes as Jr III Racing prepares to go full-time in the LMP3 category in 2022.
“This is awesome and it’s important to me as a driver, but even more important to the entire team,” said Grist. “It’s the first WeatherTech race for (team owner) Billy (Glavin) and Jr lll Racing. We made it to the end with zero problems, which in a race like this is really difficult. All three drivers did a great job, really taking care of the car. Massive props to the team, preparation was great and the pit stops were outstanding. Of course, we’re already looking forward to 2022, and getting a second-place finish in your first race with the team you feel pretty good for the following year! Lots to work on over the next two months and get ready for 2022.”
The checkered flag capped a weekend that saw the team competing in both the IMSA Prototype Challenge races as well as the WeatherTech finale.
“Going into a race like Petit, you never know what to expect so to have a clean race with good stops and keeping up with the yellows to make the most of the strategy, it’s pretty satisfying to come home with a solid finish like this in our first time out here,” said Billy Glavin. “Hats off to everyone on the team for all the execution, and really to the drivers as well because it was pretty tricky today with the low temperatures and of course all the traffic to deal with. We are always focused on winning, and I think we learned a lot this weekend to help us come back next year and hopefully do just that. It has been a big weekend for this team, and I could not be more proud of the job that everyone did. We are really looking forward to the future and this was a great event to build from for next year.”
Jr III Racing will return to IMSA competition at Daytona International Speedway for the season opener Road Before the 24 with two IMSA Prototype Challenge entries in January.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!