DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (January 29, 2021) – Atlanta Speedwerks led a total of 60 out of 104 laps in the opening round of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season on Friday at Daytona International Speedway, with Ryan Eversley, Greg Strelzoff and Todd Lamb’s No. 94 Dinner With Racers/Lemons of Love Honda Civic TCR finishing second after being passed on a restart with less than five minutes remaining in the four-hour race.
Eversley took the lead after the final round of pit stops cycled through with 37 minutes to go in the race under full course caution. Eversley held off the field on that restart, and again after the sixth of seven caution periods for 28 total laps of the race.
The final restart, with just 4 minutes and 28 seconds to go, was one too many. Despite a great start at the green flag, the eventual winning car moved from third place to the lead on the front straight under the green flag. Eversley worked the final two laps trying to make a move, but held off the rest of the field to earn the second place finish.
Strelzoff began the race in the No. 94, qualifying in 12th and steadily working his way forward. Continually improving throughout the week after stepping away from racing for more than five years, Strelzoff worked his way up to eighth place in his one-hour, 20-minute stint.
Lamb, in preparation for yet a third Atlanta Speedwerks car that may materialize for Sebring, stepped in for a 40-minute stint and brought the car into podium contention.
For the final driver change, Lamb entered pit lane in third with 90 minutes to go and Eversley inherited the lead almost immediately from the Atlanta Speedwerks sister car during the pit stop cycle.
The No. 84 Sabelt/Pagid Honda Civic TCR driven by Motul Pole Award winner Robert Noaker and Brian Henderson had an equal amount of success except for the final result. Noaker dominated the early portion of the race, leading 37 laps in the first two hours and 20 minutes of the race. Noaker had built a lead of more than seven seconds when a full course yellow came out with just over 90 minutes remaining, and he passed the car to Henderson.
Henderson was working back through the field, including temporarily running second behind Eversley, when contact in the bus stop sent three TCR cars off track and ended Henderson and Noaker’s day with an eleventh-place finish.
The IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season resumes at Sebring International Raceway, March 17-20, for round two. Henderson and Noaker paired together for the first time at the track last November for a sixth-place finish after starting at the rear of the field.
Greg Strelzoff, Driver, No. 94 Honda Civic TCR: “It’s a Cinderella story, honestly. I haven’t been in the car in five and a half years, I have my daughters here, and I have a great team around me. I had a great opening stint, the restart was amazing. I made a lot of passes and made up as many places as I could. I turned the car over clean to Todd, who turned the car over clean to Ryan. Ryan went to work and I enjoyed seeing that. He’s such a great driver to watch. I appreciate the Honda, it was so consistent. I was out there on the same Michelin tires for an hour and a half and I was doing my best lap times at the end.”
Ryan Eversley, Driver, No. 94 Honda Civic TCR: “Since we started at the Roar, the car has been really fast and fun to drive. It’s one of those perfect scenarios where you get in the car and it’s pretty much what you want. You fine tune it just a little and it keeps going faster and faster. Come race time, Greg did his best lap of the weekend. The fact that he was getting quicker, the car was getting more fun to drive, and it was fast, you can’t ask for more. I’m happy we got the podium. I know we did the best we did with what we have. I’m happy to come out of here with a trophy.”
Brian Henderson, Driver, No. 84 Honda Civic TCR: “There were a lot of positive things to take away from the weekend. Robert pretty much dominated his whole stint. He drove like a super hero. The team did a great job. We were out there and found ourselves in a spot that wasn’t good for us and it took us out of the race. That won’t happen again. I’m looking forward to the next race.”
Robert Noaker, Driver, No. 84 Honda Civic TCR: “It was good. I was able to lead from the start. The start of the race was a split start, so it wasn’t as chaotic. But on the restarts, everyone is trying to get what they can. I’m just trying to get the car through there in one piece. The car was so fast and handling good. I have to thank the team, Honda, Sabelt and Pagid, because they’re the people behind us that help us do it.”
Todd Lamb, Driver and Team Owner, No. 94 Honda Civic TCR: “As a driver, this was a pretty exciting opener to the season. As a team owner, we’ve got some fast guys and really great guys here. I’m just excited from two different perspectives. I’m really proud of everybody’s performance today, drivers and crew alike. We have a lot of new people here on our crew and everybody did a fantastic job. I’m looking forward to Sebring, hopefully with three cars, and we can see them all running up front.”