Brian Henderson and Robert Noaker Led in No. 84 Sabelt/Pagid Honda Civic TCR, No. 94 Qelo Capital/Dinner With Racers Honda Civic TCR of Ryan Eversley and Scott Smithson Recovered from Practice Crash For Top 10
LIME ROCK, Connecticut (July 18, 2021) – A challenging night turned to a challenging day for Atlanta Speedwerks on Saturday at Lime Rock Park, but the team persevered for a pair of top-10 finishes in IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge TCR-class competition.
Brian Henderson and Robert Noaker led the way for the team with a sixth-place finish in the No. 84 Sabelt/Pagid Honda Civic TCR. Henderson started second and led 30 laps in his stint before, during, and after the third full course caution of the race. Using the those long, multiple cautions in the first hour of the race as a guide, Henderson stayed in the car for an extended one-hour, 20-minute stint. Unable to find one last caution, the team made its driver-change and pit stop under green with 40 minutes to go, falling a lap down as Noaker climbed behind the wheel. Noaker fought to hang on for the finish on the lead lap.
The more heroic effort came from the Atlanta Speedwerks crew, who worked through the night to prepare the team’s third Honda Civic TCR after the No. 94 Qelo Captial/Dinner With Racers/Lemons of Love machine crashed in Friday’s practice. The car, which was essentially meant to be a parts car and needed functional parts from the original car to race, was finished – without fully functioning anti-lock brakes – less than five minutes prior to the field pulling onto the track for pace laps.
By rule, the team started the race at the end of the field from pit lane and immediately served a drive through penalty, then went to work. Scott Smithson, through clean, steady driving and attrition from other drivers, climbed as high as eighth before stopping with one hour, 15 minutes remaining. Eversley rejoined in 10th but was assessed a pit lane penalty that left the car two laps behind the leaders.
Eversley, like Smithson driving without a cool suit on a 90-degree day because it didn’t make the change to the new car, fought his way up one additional position for a stellar finish under the circumstances.
The effort leaves Eversley second in the Michelin Pilot Challenge Driver Championship, and the No. 94 Atlanta Speedwerks car second in the team points. Henderson and Noaker are seventh in the Driver points as well as the Team standings, and the finish today keeps Honda atop the Manufacturers Championship after six of 10 rounds in the 2021 season.
Atlanta Speedwerks and the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season resumes at Road America, August 5 – 8, for round seven of the season.
Ryan Eversley, Driver, No. 94 Honda Civic TCR: “I can’t say thanks enough to the crew guys. This Atlanta Speedwerks team, all year, if there’s something that needs to be done then someone will pick it up and do it. That came to the forefront this weekend when we needed everybody to jump in and get the spare car built up. We didn’t have a great race, but we did finish. I didn’t think we were going to make the grid just because the time was running out. We didn’t have anything we couldn’t overcome. We had a car that I think could have been in the top five if we didn’t have some on-track issues to overcome. That was monumental. I have to thanks to Honda/HPD and JAS Motorsports for building such a safe car. Scott was fine after the incident and was able to race competitively. It’s a testament to Honda in general. This car starts as a street car and he was able to race after a crash like that, that’s a huge deal. It was tough on track. With the extra weight we’re now carrying, the degradation was so bad and no tire could run with that much weight. But we’re not going to give up and still leave here second in the points.”
Scott Smithson, Driver, No. 94 Honda Civic TCR: “That was a rough weekend. With the crash yesterday, the crew worked all night and got the car going but we ran without ABS. In my stint, usually I can gut through things pretty well but I’m pretty banged up with my ribs and all the right hand corners. We did what we could do. Ryan had a really good stint. But we don’t want to have any more of these.”
Brian Henderson, Driver, No. 84 Honda Civic TCR: “The start of the race was wild. We got up in there and worked our way to the lead. We managed to hold onto the lead for a while and chose to stay out. We got our lap back and got up to sixth and Robert was able to hold off the guys behind him and secure that sixth place finish. Obviously, we would have loved to finish a little higher than that, maybe on the podium, but overall it’s not terrible. We finished the race and are looking for the next one at Road America.”
Robert Noaker, Driver, No. 84 Honda Civic TCR: “It was hot at first. The Cool Shirt was having issues, so I didn’t have that. The nature of this track, you never get a break. I was just running laps, running laps, and it was getting hotter and hotter. I got pretty worn out. But the extra weight killed us at the end, we just didn’t have the grip. The team did whatever they could and we still came out in sixth.”
About Atlanta Speedwerks
Atlanta Speedwerks is a professional road racing team and prep shop, providing road racing services, car builds, roll cages, arrive and drive programs, and performance parts. Headquartered near Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, the company runs winning arrive & drive programs in IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, Mazda MX-5 Cup, Porsche Club of America and SCCA Spec Miata, among others. Professional coaching and driver development round out the company’s offerings.