Indianapolis, Ind. (17 September 2023) - With a front-row start, loads of laps in the lead, and a podium finish, Jr III Racing showed both pace and execution in the TireRack.com Battle on the Bricks this weekend.
Garett Grist and Nolan Siegel teamed up in the No. 30 Airbnb Ligier as IMSA returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time since 2014. Full-season pilot Ari Balogh could not attend the race weekend as Siegel got the last minute call-up to return to race with the team.
The No. 30 team showed immediate pace as the weekend kicked off, landing the fastest lap in first practice and the third fastest lap in second practice. Siegel qualified for the duo, securing a front row starting position next to Jr III Racing teammate Bijoy Garg.
Siegel started the two hour and forty minute race for the No. 30 Airbnb team, but a caution came out on the first lap due to debris in turn one after a multi-car incident just moments after the green flag. After the restart, Siegel spun but rejoined the field in seventh on lap 8. Just 12 laps later, Siegel fought his way back up to sit second behind Garg. 43 minutes into the race, a caution came out bringing the No. 30 Ligier into the pits for a driver change, fuel and tires.
"It was great to be back with this team,” said Siegel. “I think we had a really strong package and had a good shot at it today, but it just didn't go our way. I had an incident with the GT at the beginning and Garett had several issues he had to fight back from throughout the stint. But I think the pace was there to have been a little bit further up. Garett did a great job. It’s another podium so ultimately not a bad day. But just a huge huge thank you to the team. We qualified one-two and Bijoy (Garg, pole winner) did a great job so just a big thank you to everyone on the team.”
Grist took the wheel for the remaining hour and fifty two minutes. With a crowded and competitive field of LMP3 runners, Grist had to fight all the way to the finish to score another podium result for the Airbnb machine as he and Siegel finished third.
“The weekend started off pretty good,” said Grist. “We were quick in both practice sessions and our used tire pace we felt really good about. Then the race, we will have to look at what that was. I don’t know if we just struggled on pace, maybe it was myself or the car or a combination. That’s something we definitely need to look into because we’ve been the car to beat every race this year. So this was kind of the first one all year that we weren’t. You’re not going to be the best every weekend, but we want to win some. We’ll look into it and see, but great job by Nolan and the team, everyone has just worked so hard. So we’ll go get them at Petit.”
Garg and Guilherme de Oliveira both made their second IMSA WeatherTech start, but it was the first time the duo co-drove together in the No. 29 Wing S2 Cyber Ligier. The pair took both practice sessions to really dial in the Ligier before Garg qualified on Saturday. Garg set the fast lap of the fifteen minute qualifying session with a 1:20.518 second lap time to score pole.
Garg took the first segment of the race, leading his entire stint. Garg came into pit lane when the caution came out, and the California driver pitted on lap 32 handing the No. 29 Ligier to Oliveira.
After the pit stop, Oliveira came out behind his teammate Grist. On lap 48, Oliveira spun, but was able to rejoin the field in sixth. The Portuguese driver spent the remainder of the race working his way up to cross the finish line in fourth.
"We started off practice with a car that was fast and kept working to make it better throughout practice,” said Garg. “In qualy, the balance was very good and it was a very good lap! But I don't know what happened in the race. It seemed like the track changed too much and we struggled to adapt fast enough. But just going to keep my head up and get ready for Road Atlanta and try to win a (VPRC) championship."
Jr III Racing will be back in action in just four weeks for the final round of the IMSA WeatherTech Championship, Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on October 14th. Both the No. 30 WeatherTech entry and the No. 3 VP Racing SportsCar Challenge entry will be on site competing during the championship rounds.