My name is Corey Fergus. I race the #197 Honda Civic Si for RSR Motorsports in Grand-Am’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.
Going into the Daytona race was very exciting, being that it was the first race of the season. I’ve been counting down the days for quite a while. The “off-season” couldn’t have gone fast enough. This season, like the last, I moved out to Aspen, Colorado to teach skiing during the winter months. It helps the “off-season” go quicker and keeps me in better shape for race season.
I’m really looking forward to 2013 for many reasons. A big reason is that our team is upgrading to the 2013 Honda Civic, a new body style and a 2.4-liter motor, instead of the 2.0 in my current Honda. The new Hondas have proven to be quite competitive, so it’s something our team is really excited about.
One of the cool things about the new cars is HPD's involvement. HPD helps make sure that every team gets the same equipment to compete. Though every team is responsible to get its set-up right and can do its own car build, it's a big advantage for a team to know that it is starting out of the box with equal equipment.
In 2013, RSR is running three cars (Nos. 196, 197, & 198). The team is slowly converting to the new Hondas as the season progresses and has been scrambling since the end of last season to get the new cars finished. Daytona marked the first race for one of the new Hondas, the No. 198. Its debut was pretty successful. But for a mistake during the pit stop, it would have finished in the top 10.
My Honda should be the last one completed, so I won’t be driving the new car until most likely the third race of the season, at Barber Motorsports Park.
My weekend in Daytona started off pretty well. Although I didn’t get the draft I needed in qualifying, I led the race for awhile. Daytona is a top-speed kind of track, with two very long straightaways. Drafting and even bump-drafting is very important to a good lap time.
We had a very strong car, even though the older Honda isn’t quite as fast at Daytona as the new Hondas. Our handling was great, but we lacked a little straight-line speed. During our driver and tire change pit stop, the right front wheel spacer came off, requiring us to make another pit stop later, and putting us a lap down.
It was especially disappointing because my teammate, Owen Trinkler, and I had been working on lightning-fast driver changes and that one was flawless on our end. Just like that, our luck changed. That’s racing, I guess.
We miraculously got our lap back, thanks to the new “Lucky Dog” rule, where if you are a lap down and are in front of the class leader while behind the pace car, you get waved around to get your lap back. Owen drove a great stint and put us in 12th at the finish.
This year started off with a couple new rule changes, one of them being the “Lucky Dog” award. The restart procedure was also changed. In years past, on a restart, you had to stay behind the car in front of you and couldn’t initiate a pass until after the start/finish line.
This year, as soon as the green flag flies, it’s “game on,” and you can pass. I used this new rule to my advantage, and that is how I captured the lead. On a restart, I was running second, but when the green flag came out, the car in front tried to brake-check me and I swerved around it and went to the lead. I’m glad Grand-Am is constantly working on trying to make the series better.
The Daytona weekend showed a lot of promise. Not only was it probably the cleanest, accident-free race I’ve been a part of, but we had all three cars capable of finishing in the top 10 and perhaps the top five, and all three endured a setback during the race. I have a lot of confidence that running a Honda this year is the right choice, and I don’t think a championship is out of the question.
The 2013 season is about a championship for Owen and me. Wins and poles are bonuses. We need consistent finishes to earn valuable points towards the championship. A 12th-place finish, given the circumstances, was a good result for us.
Our next race is at the new Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, March 2.
See you at the track!