Braselton, Ga (2 October 2022) - After ten hours of intense racing, Jr III Racing (“Junior three”) brought home a second-place LMP3 class finish in the 25th annual Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Saturday. The season-ending race saw the team execute with outstanding driver performances, strong strategy calls from the pit box, and flawless pit stops through the duration of the IMSA event.
The podium result saw the team close out its first full-season of IMSA WeatherTech competition third in the points championship as full-season pilots Garret Grist and Ari Balogh were joined by Nolan Siegel for the final enduro of the year.
Balogh started the No. 30 AirBnB Ligier JS P320 from the third row of the class grid, moving to fifth in the opening stanza of the race before turning the car over to Siegel on lap 104.
Siegel continued his forward charge, moving up to race in podium position for an extended stint before handing the Ligier over to Grist as the race reached the halfway mark. Grist kept the podium pace while running second. California native Siegel resumed the controls on lap 213, continuing the pursuit of the leading No. 36 entry, closing to within seconds on multiple occasions before turning the No. 30 AirBnb back over to Grist on lap 299. The young Canadian closed out the 2022 season with a second place result for the Jr III Racing entry which brings the team to four podiums this season.
“You always have to be happy with a second-place finish,” said Grist, who scored second with the team in the 2021 edition of the race. “Jr III is two-for-two on second place finishes at Petit Le Mans. It’s good to know that we’ve been within 10 seconds of the win in both years. We are proud to earn third overall in the championship in our first year, especially against teams like Riley and Core. We have a long off-season ahead of us, and we have a lot to work on and to improve in several aspects, including me. If we can start next year where we finished this year, we’ll be in a better spot. Big thanks to Billy (Glavin) and Ari (Balogh) for allowing us to do this.”
After starting the season at Sebring International Raceway with a second-place finish in the 12 Hour, the No. 30 team brought home their fourth second-place finish to end the season at Michelin Raceway.
“It was a great weekend running both IPC and WeatherTech,” said Siegel. “In the IPC race, we didn’t get the result we wanted, but I think it was still a really strong showing for the team, and we ended up with the fastest lap of the race by quite a bit. In WeatherTech, we scored second, which is a huge accomplishment. Everyone wanted to win, but it’s still incredible to be on the Motul Petit Le Mans podium.”
The team is looking forward to announcing plans for the 2023 season in the off-season.
The Motul Petit Le Mans weekend got started early for Jr III Racing with its IMSA Prototype Challenge (IPC) program, closing out the season on Friday with a 90-minute race with two team entries. Jr III Racing drivers Ari Balogh and Nolan Siegel pulled double duty, driving the No. 30 AirBnB Ligier JS P320 as the sister team entry of Courtney Crone and Terry Olson fielded the No. 3 Jr III Racing Ligier.
Balogh took the green flag from sixth on the grid, and was on a quick run when he and another competitor made contact as they dueled for position through the tricky 10a and 10b complex. Unfortunately the contact sent the No. 30 Ligier off track before being able to return to action in 12th. The team worked to put strategy to use and make up the lost track position, with Siegel making a strong charge to the finish to come home ninth.
Olson took on the first stint of the race onboard the No. 3 Jr III entry. Approaching the 30-minute mark, Olson put his heads up driving on display as he deftly avoided a spinning car ahead of him on the daunting final fast downhill corner on the circuit. But the incident cost track position, leaving Olson to restart from eleventh.
He charged through the field to put the No. 3 Ligier as high as fourth before pitting for a driver change. Crone continued to set steady lap times but an unfortunate spin saw her fall down the order briefly before recovering to bring the car home twelfth at the line.
“There are mixed feelings there,” said Crone. “The Jr III Racing guys brought a great car. The first half of my stint wasn’t the best with the spin. I made a mistake trying to turn the traction control off, and the Ligier wasn’t quite ready for that. The last half of the race was pretty decent; I kept pace with the mid-pack. Overall, it’s been a great season with Jr III.”
“The track was chilly, and a little bit slippery, but it was set up great,” said Olson. “I thought we had some good momentum going from our position, starting closer to the back, but unfortunately, I got caught up behind somebody that spun in front of us, and we had to take some major action to avert a big crash. It was a great way to end the year. Michelin Raceway is such an amazing track that being out there in the car is something you’ll always remember.”
The Crone - Olson duo finished the IPC season fifth in provisional points championship. The No. 30 team was not far behind, finishing the season in seventh out of a twenty-four-car field.