Watkins Glen, N.Y. (2 July 2021) - Jr III Racing made a strong comeback to take fourth in Friday’s IMSA Prototype Challenge race at Watkins Glen International. Garett Grist and Ari Balogh combined in the No. 33 Airbnb Ligier JS P320 to capture the season best result for the entry.
Unfortunately the sister No. 3 Talon Expeditionary Services entry of Marc Sharinn and Ken D’Arcy suffered a terminal failure on the false grid prior to the race, resulting in early retirement from the race.
With qualifying late on Thursday, Balogh qualified the orange and yellow Ligier and placed it on the fifth row for the race. The No. 3 Ligier was qualified by D’Arcy and was set to start 16th for the 105-minute race on Friday.
Taking the green flag from 9th, Balogh moved into eighth on the opening lap. Following the first caution on Lap 2, the field went back to green on lap five where Balogh settled into race pace with the No. 33 Ligier and rounded out the group on the lead lap in eighth.
After 15 laps of green flag running, the second caution was deployed as Balogh brought the No. 33 Ligier to pit lane for new Michelin tires, fuel and a driver change. Grist took over the controls and returned to the course in eighth.
Grist was forced to return to pit lane two times in six laps to serve two drive through penalties for wheel spin while on the jacks during the pit stop on Lap 22 as well as a pit lane speed violation while serving the first drive through penalty on Lap 25.
As rain began to fall on the back half of the track, multiple cars went off course which brought out a timely third yellow flag which allowed Grist to advance to sixth. A strategy call kept the No. 33 Ligier on slick tires as the field packed up for the final restart of the one hour, 45-minute race.
With the green flag in the air, Grist pushed the Ligier setting the fastest lap of the race and the weekend of 1:40.508-seconds on lap 40. He worked his tools inside the car to make the move into the top-five of the running order on lap 41. Cutting a four-second gap to the position ahead in one lap, Grist moved the No. 33 into fourth-place after making a smooth pass on the outside through the bus stop.
Coming to the checkered flag just in time for the skies to open above, Grist brought the No. 33 Airbnb Ligier JS P320 home in fourth - marking the car’s best finish of the year.
“I can’t say enough about the car that Jr III Racing gave me today,” said Grist. “If we didn’t have that second drive through penalty we would be in an even better spot. The team did a great job and the car had remarkable pace as I was able to set my fastest laps of the race near the end. I had a great time battling (Steven) McAleer and was able to send it in a tight spot, so either I was going to get it done or he was going to take me out. Overall, it was such a pleasure being here this weekend and working with Billy (Glavin) and his team. To get a good result made it that much better.”
Jr III Racing will have an extended break from IMSA Prototype Challenge competition as the series returns at VIRginia International Raceway October 8-10th for the penultimate round.