As part of our continuing series “Time Trial Techniques,” three exceptionally quick TT4 drivers agreed to share their tips and tricks with Speed News and anyone cognizant enough to learn from them.
These drivers have championships, regional TT and race wins to their credit, even at tracks far from their homes. It takes a great deal of ability to go into a track cold and come away with the gold. Even if you review video and practice beforehand by driving the tracks on a sim, taking the win from someone who calls a given track “home” is the mark of a champion.
They were forthcoming with their approaches to Time Trial competition, and we’re grateful to them for the time they took to answer our questions.
Chase Johnston, NASA Texas
Q: When you go out for a TT session, what is plan of attack?
A: To win! Really though, I just sit, close my eyes and focus prior to the session. My entire plan is to get the best and fastest lap possible. Learn the track, hit my markers and reference points, understand the track surface, how she’s responding and go home all in one piece with a smile.
Q: Does your approach change as the temperatures change throughout the day?
A: Temperature does impact the way the car handles. The approach will change, If the temperature is hot, I will spend less time on the track. Once it gets to a certain temperature, the car’s potential for the fastest lap drops significantly. When the temperature is cooler, I know my car will perform better. Typically, the first and second sessions are the money.
Q: What are the small things you can do throughout the day to maximize the car?
A: Learn who you’re driving with. Position is key, in my opinion. NASA does an incredible job, especially in the Texas Region setting everyone up and getting ready for the green to drop. I know that some of my friends and competitors will stay out an entire session and some will knock it out in two to three laps. I know how long is too long, and when I need to set my flyer or throw it away.
Q: How do you keep tabs on your competition?
A: Facebook! Honestly though, I love my competitors. It’s so funny that most of us in the same class are in a group chat together. It’s fantastic. The camaraderie we have with one another, either it’s pushing one to get their car completed, or rustling one’s jimmies. We all do our best to get each other out there and for all of us to stay running mentally and physically.
Q: What role did car construction play in your success in this year’s championships?
A: The long-term construction of the S2000 played a big role in making sure my car was properly prepped for my class at all times. But practice is what made me successful this year. I drove at every event I could, getting as much seat time as possible. I learned the track and pushed my personal limits at each lap. Fortunately, I have a great group of friends who assisted me in learning from my data where I could improve, go faster, lift sooner, push myself and the car, and I would implement it during the next session.
Q: How did you choose your car for TT4 competition?
A: I didn’t. The competition chose me. My instructors growing up through the ranks competed in B, and what’s now 4, and well … you grow up and want to be faster, better, stronger than your instructors, right? They ran TT4, and as for building the car to be competitive, it fit the budget great.
Q: How does Time Trial help you in your racing?
A: I’m not an ST racer, I just run in TT, or as we call it, HPDE5. I love it, and have no plans to run ST.
Although, TT I would assume plays a large role, if you can learn to set an incredible flyer during qual, I would assume that a starting front runner makes life easier on the podium. Although, bump-drafting sounds fun.
For this up and coming season, I’m really excited. I have joined G Speed, a Corvette specific race preparation shop that offers parts and service here in Cresson, Texas. They also have many customers who race with NASA. It’s mind blowing the amount of knowledge from the entire team here.
Images courtesy of ANDRE EISENBACH, DOWNFORCE MEDIA and CHASE JOHNSTON