BOWMANVILLE, Ontario, Canada (July 13, 2014) – With the team firmly focused on the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s GT Daytona (GTD) title, Paul Miller Racing and team drivers Bryce Miller and Christopher Haase continued their recent run of consistency by earning their fourth-consecutive top-eight finish in Sunday’s Sportscar Grand Prix presented by Hawk Performance at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Co-drivers Miller and Haase quickly moved up in the race’s running order from a fifth-row starting berth in the No. 48 Castrol EDGE Audi R8 LMS but soon found racing into the top five was going to be difficult. The team ran at the leaders pace throughout the 2-3/4-hour sprint but never had a chance to bring some race and pit-stop strategy into play in what turned out to be a caution-free race.
With several years of racing history on the 2.46-mile circuit, most noted for its sweeping corners and elevation changes, Miller outshined some of the less experienced drivers in the race-opening rotation. He gained several positions in the early laps and never put a foot wrong in a full two-stint shift to open the race.
“Overall, P8 isn’t really a result we would be so enthusiastic about, but in the championship standings we’ve closed the gap to the leader by five points and maintained fifth, so there are several positives on the day,” Bryce Miller said. “This was a really difficult race, we were hoping for a caution flag. It just ended up being a really linear day. Great job by the guys. We still have steps to make and improvements that we need to make so this is all really promising. There’s only upsides to our situation here.”
Tire management, combined with overall pace became the key factors in the all-green race, with Bryce Miller pitting just before the one-hour mark. Recent IMSA rules adjustments have decreased the fuel capacity of Audi R8 LMS GTD cars prior to Mosport, forcing the No. 48 to the pits sooner than the team would have liked throughout the race.
Haase took over at the second stop but the quick German driver soon realized that under the long green flag conditions, the Audi’s tires would experience a significant drop-off over the course of a stint. A large part of his role would be in simply managing the Audi throughout the green flag run to the finish. Haase also had to make a final splash-and-go pit stop for fuel just minutes from the end, but he and the team were still able to hold on for the eighth-place result.
“We had a rough day, we had no yellows so it was like the whole race was a series of qualifying runs,” Haase said. “To be honest I could run a really quick lap, but then the tires would drop and the car felt very slippery and very heavy. I am happy that we’re still with strong hopes in the championship, and with some great work we should be able to get a podium back.”
After six of 11 GTD rounds so far this season, the No. 48 team and its driving duo have 150 championship points. That ranks fifth, and the top Audi effort, in both the team and driver championship standings, just 14 points out of first place in both title races.
A little more pace for the GTD-class Audis would also be a big boost to Paul Miller Racing’s championship pursuits.
“It’s difficult,” Bryce Miller said. “We don’t have the straight line speed but in some areas we have some good aero support. It would be nice to get a little bit something more in the straight-line. With these longs tracks, it seems that it seems whatever aerodynamic advantage we have in the turns we tend to give back on the straights. Some of our competitors have significant straight-line advantages, so when it comes to over taking its really difficult.”
The No. 48 team’s Mosport result was its second-straight eighth-place finish after crossing the line in the same spot one race earlier at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. Prior to that race, the team posted consecutive top-three podium finishes at Laguna Seca and Detroit Belle Isle with respective second and third-place results.
Halfway through a busy summer season, the entire IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship will return to action in less than two weeks, competing at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Brickyard Grand Prix, Friday, July 25. FOX Sports 1 will air the race live beginning at 7:00 p.m. EDT/4 p.m. PDT.