Bowmanville, Ontario (4 July 2022) - Jr III (“Junior-Three”) Racing finished third in LMP3 at its Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) debut at the Chevrolet Grand Prix on Sunday. The result marks the team’s third podium finish of the 2022 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season with four rounds complete.
Starting from the front row in the No. 30 Airbnb Ligier JS P320, Ari Balogh and Garett Grist split the two-hour and 40-minute race which saw the pair manage intense batches of traffic on the high-speed road course.
The podium finish was a fitting reward after a big effort from Jr III racing, which prepared one of its IMSA Prototype Challenge LMP3s for WeatherTech competition following a minor fire during last weekend’s Watkins Glen Six Hour. With just a few days in between events as the team didn’t return to Jr III’s Mooresville, NC facility, the team successfully made the IPC to WeatherTech LMP3 swap.
Balogh took the green flag and set a podium-earning pace in the first segment of the race which included the race’s full course caution. Following the restart, Balogh held strong in third through his 33 lap stint before handing the car off to teammate Grist.
Native Canadian Grist took the No. 30 Ligier from fourth to third with one hour left on the race clock. Managing constant traffic around the 2.459-mile road course with four different race classes in action, Grist crossed the line third, giving Jr III Racing its third podium finish of the 2022 season. In addition to the podium finish, Grist set the fastest lap of the race in LMP3, posting a 1:12.523-second lap.
Although a rock solid finish, Grist had hoped for more opportunities to take advantage of the No. 30 Ligier’s pace to move further up the order.
“The car felt really good,” said Grist. “We had the quickest lap of the race, and I think we’re probably up there on average as well, especially in that first stint. But in my second stint, I was stuck behind the second-place car the whole time. It’s such a fast track, so once you get within a couple of car lengths, you lose all your aerodynamics. It’s probably the toughest place to pass that we go to all year and that showed today. I was five or six-tenths back the entire stint, just sitting there, which was a bit frustrating. But we’ll keep getting better – we’ll get there.”
Billy Glavin III, team owner, felt their day showed promise on how the team continues to carry speed despite the quick-turn around from Watkins Glen to CTMP transitioning an IPC car for WeatherTech competition.
“We got back on the horse and had a good race,” said Glavin. “I think we had a really good race car, just gave up a little too much in the pits on that first stop and that kind of put us on the back foot. We were playing catch up ever since. Then on that last yellow flag, we came in, we tried to jump them in the pits by short filling and it just didn’t work out. So we lost some track position and were not able to catch back up. But it was a great race and a great recovery for the team, it shows that we can do it. We got plenty to work on, but I think for the first time this year we had a car from the start to finish that we could race and push on. That is a good direction for us.”
A crew with years of NASCAR experience worked tirelessly this weekend as the racing team had a jam-packed schedule competing in both IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the IMSA Prototype Challenge series.
The team entered the weekend with Courtney Crone and Ari Balogh pairing in the No. 3 Jr III Racing Ligier JS P320 for the third round of IMSA Prototype Challenge competition.
Starting from fifth, Balogh took on the first stint of the one hour 30-minute event. After completing a 40-minute run, Balogh handed the No. 3 Ligier off to Crone who completed the final 45 minutes of the race.
Making her race debut at CTMP Crone took each lap as a learning experience and improved throughout her stint. Similar to her WeatherTech teammates, once in clean air, Crone was able to settle into a rhythm which saw her bring the Ligier home sixth.
“For my first time here, I felt pretty good,” said Crone. “In practice, the car felt super good, but racing is a whole different animal. In the race, I think that my lack of experience here kind of showed. Overall, once we kind of got out of dirty air from the cars for position on that restart we had a very good individual pace. I just struggled with the car behind the traffic. Personally, I did all I knew what I could do. Hopefully, we get to do a test out at VIR and get more laps at future tracks. Overall, the car was really good especially when we’re in clean air, just kind of struggled with it behind any one, and it wasn’t enough for me to really do anything.”
Jr III Racing will return to IMSA WeatherTech competition at Road America on August 7.