Scrambled from the Start
IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge
Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta
Friday, September 30, 2022
The final installment of the Racing to End Alzheimer’s/Hardpoint 2022 season came to a close in eerily familiar fashion. As the concluding leg in a series that has been defined by lurches and starts, the race at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta felt fittingly jumbled.
From the jump, the weekend was anything but routine. During qualifying, a messy crash brought out red flag conditions for the entire field. Clean-up efforts took a significant amount of time, leaving very little opportunity for teams to get any heat in their tires. As a result, all cars were forced to run one qualifying lap on cold tires, mixing up starting positions and complicating the field.
Blown Tires, Blown Chances
Starting from 11th, Nick Galante and the No. 22 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport settled in quickly. After taking 2 positions in the first lap, Galante fought hard to keep top-ten positioning for most of his stint. Sitting within striking distance of the lead pack, the No. 22 bore down as it hit the back straight during full green flag conditions.
Then disaster struck.
Tearing over the asphalt at 140 MPH, the Porsche’s back left tire blew without warning. For a lesser driver, this certainly would have meant a race-ending date with the wall. But Galante kept his cool and expertly righted course, keeping the No. 22 in the race and limping into the pits for a fix.
Despite Nick’s jaw-dropping save, the unplanned pit during green flag conditions threw the team’s strategy for a loop. Even a well-executed stop couldn’t make up lost time, and Sean McAlister went back onto the track a lap down. He fought hard, but the blown tire came to define the race and the No. 22 finished in 22nd place.
Rising to the Challenge
Sometimes a season’s success is defined more by perseverance than it is by podiums. This season was a grind, oftentimes derailed by uncontrollable factors. Yet the team stuck together and raced their hearts out week after week – truly doing justice to our mission here at Racing to End Alzheimer’s.
As Nick Galante put it, “This season wasn’t always easy, but the ongoing support from the families of those whose names we carry on our livery really puts what we do in perspective. It has been an honor to race for this cause and I can’t thank Phil, Sean and the Hardpoint crew enough for a great season.”
Thank you for following along. We can’t wait for next year’s start!