CORVETTE RACING AT CTMP: Tommy Milner Q&A

Media interview transcript ahead of this weekend’s Chevrolet Grand Prix
Corvette Racing factory driver Tommy Milner was part of a media Zoom today to talk about this week’s Chevrolet Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and the sixth round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. He will team with Nicky Catsburg in Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports’ No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R. This will be Milner’s first race at CTMP since 2018.
How big would it be to get the first IMSA win for the Corvette Z06 GT3.R?“It would certainly be big for the program, Pratt Miller and Corvette Racing. We’ve been close, we feel like, for many of the races this year. For one reason or not, we haven’t quite finished the job so we’re trying to make that happen this weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. It’s an awesome racetrack. I had to go back and look; I haven’t raced there since 2018 so it’s been quite awhile. I missed the 2019 race with a broken hand. It’s been a little bit for me to be at CTMP but I was just there recently for testing. It reminded me of how awesome the track is and how much fun it is to drive. Even in our GT cars, the rhythm there is like no other racetrack in the world. It’s super-fast and a lot of fun. We got a taste of some of the multi-class racing with some of the LMP2 cars that were there testing with us, so we have a feel for that already. It should be exciting. It’s definitely a difficult racetrack to pass in some situations. But we’re excited to get to CTMP and hopefully get over the hump to get a win for this Corvette Racing program.” Does the racing this weekend change at all without the GTP class there?“There will be small changes. The biggest difference for us is how the P2 cars make their speed over a lap versus the GTP cars. The GTP cars typically at the end of the straight-away are significantly quicker than we are. It’s more about the small adjustments as far as when to expect the P cars to be able to get by us. The P2 cars are significantly quicker in the corners than us. So we will be aware of that. What’s nice about CTMP is that the line seems to be wide enough, especially early in the race, where those guys are able to run around the outside of us in Turn Two and even potentially in Turn One in some situations. The places where they are able to get by, even so it can be difficult to race and pass certain cars within your class at CTMP. The interaction between the P2 cars isn’t too bad from my perspective. “It seems like there are some tracks that we go to where the passing between the classes can be difficult no matter what. CTMP seems to be a track where the speed differential is big enough in the corners where the P2 cars can separate themselves from us and we don’t hinder them too much. There’s obviously situations where that will happen, but just based on some of the testing from a few weeks ago, it didn’t seem to be a huge problem. The biggest thing is that GTP cars are typically a little slower than us in slow-speed corners where the P2 cars are quicker than us. It’s all these small differences that we need to get accustomed to early on in the weekend, understand where those cars are quicker, where we might be slightly quicker and letting us understand how we can let these guys get by us that doesn’t hinder them too much and doesn’t hinder us as well. Like any time, there will be situations where you don’t want to let the P2 cars pass because it’s a big problem for us. But again based on testing, the way that CTMP is allows us to race well together.” Mid-year through the first year of the Corvette Z06 GT3.R, how would you rate where the car is and how further along it is compared to the testing and development plan last year?“I think we’re in a good place right now. At the start of the year, it’s always tough to go to these long-distance races – Daytona and Sebring – with a brand new car. I would say we’ve had a little bit more lingering issues than we would have liked and as we’ve seen in the past from this team and program. I feel like at this point now that the ones that have lingering, we’ve gotten a handle on finally or we feel like we have. You never know until the results show it. Le Mans was good from the program, generally, as far as reliability goes. From that side, there’s been some minor updates to correct some of the problems. All our testing has been smooth sailing typically; that’s obviously a good sign. The car has been fast from the beginning. That’s been nice that we haven’t had to worry so much about trying to find speed in the car. Maybe right now we are a little too mismatched with some of the other cars in our class with how we make our speed versus them. We typically seem to be down on power to most cars. Some of the racing can be difficult at times. We can get stuck behind cars quite easily that might be slower than us over a lap but we can’t do much with it currently with the way things are right now. It changes obviously. At Laguna Seca we were fast. The way that we made our speed and our pace over a lap didn’t hinder us there. Watkins Glen was a little different in that regard. I feel the car is in a good place. The reliability has been quite a bit better. We’ve always been doing the fine-tuning stuff with the car setups as we can. A lot of the men and women at Corvette Racing, Pratt Miller and GM have been working hard to fix the small little things that become bigger things in races. We’re in a much better place there, now.” Influence of Ron Fellows in his Corvette Racing career.“Ron is amazing. We still see him quite often at the racetrack; he still has a capacity with GM as a brand ambassador. The first five or six years with Corvette Racing, he was much more present and a good person to have around for someone like me who was new to the program. At times if there were questions I had for him or if he saw something that he saw was worth speaking up… Ron is a quieter guy in general but when he does speak, it feels like those are words that you should take to heart. It’s great to have him around. He’s an amazing driver and an amazing ambassador for Corvette Racing with the success he had with the program.“Do I feel a little bit like him yet? Not quite… I still feel like I’m fairly young, but I have been with the team for a long time now. There are obviously ways in which guys like me and Antonio (Garcia) who have been with this team for so many years now… the things we can do within the team with some of the newer guys that have joined the program to help all of us navigate certain situations on the racetrack and off the racetrack, as well. We understand how the team operates and what has made this team successful based on past performances, knowledge and things like that we have learned from the guys who came before us. We’re trying to carry on the legacy of Corvette Racing as best we can.” On the level of competition in GTD PRO compared to years past even going back to ALMS GT.“From the outside and looking at the history of Corvette Racing, not having a win yet is in some ways surprising. But this class is super-competitive. You always have your usual suspects in the class but now there are eight or nine cars, and every car in the class has a chance to win, it seems like. We’ve seen that trend for as long as I’ve been in this class. Every year it keeps getting more and more difficult. The cars and drivers are exceptional. The teams are very, very good. In years past with us, there were races that we shouldn’t have won that we won because we did so many other things well. These days, you have to do everything just right. You have to be fast from the beginning of the weekend. You have to have a good qualifying session. You have to have two drivers that are on their game for the entire race. You have to make the right strategy calls whenever those opportunities arise. You have to do everything just right. If you have one little slip-up, one little hiccup, that’s the end of your race. We had a little bit of that at Laguna Seca; we had a little issue with our fueling and were plugged in for like three or four seconds too long. That was realistically the difference of maybe a win – I think the Porsche that weekend was a little too quick for us – but second-place should have been on the table. It’s those little things. You have to be perfect in these races to have success. Not to say that Corvette Racing was never perfect in the past, but it was the strength of this team for so many years… for so long, these teams were racing against top-level teams and drivers that it pushes them to be better. They go back and figure out how to be better. We’ve always done that as well, but now it gets harder and harder to be perfect on any weekend. It’s frustrating in some ways because getting those wins come fewer and farther between. But when you do have that success, you realize you’ve beaten the best teams and drivers in GT racing and racing in general, honestly. The expectations within Corvette are high. The expectations outside of Corvette Racing are high, as well. We understand that, we feel that and we have high expectations for ourselves. The third-place at Laguna was nice but in some ways felt empty. We were on pole and wanted to get that win. Watkins Glen was similar.” Do you have a preference between sprint and endurance racing?“Both are enjoyable. For me, sometimes with Daytona and Sebring you’re ready for a sprint race after those two. I’m excited about going racing hard for two hours and 40 minutes. But the endurance races are highlights of the calendar. The fan turnout is amazing at each. The atmosphere is a little bit different for those races. In that sense, those endurance races are special. But there’s nothing quite like racing for 100 minutes if it’s at Detroit or two hours, 40 minutes for most of the rest of the year where it’s all-out right from the get-go. Sometimes you have those first two long endurances races and then you’re excited to do something else besides the long ones. Then you do the short ones again for a little and then you’re excited about going back endurance racing again. So it’s a good balance in IMSA right now.” On Joey Hand’s performance in the NASCAR street race at Chicago.“It was awesome for Joey. I’ve known Joey since I was probably 14 or 15. He likes to say that he was my go-kart mechanic for a couple of events, but more than anything it was more just me messing around with go-karts in my dad’s shop. Obviously we’re competitors with Joey on the racetrack. We had some fun this year at Daytona when we kind of rubbed doors a little bit early on in the race. At Sebring, they’ve been a little bit off the pace this year, and I think he really enjoyed himself when he was able to keep me behind for an entire stint in the race. He made sure that I was aware that it was him driving. An awesome guy and excited for him to have that opportunity and to show what he’s capable of on a stage like that. No surprise to us in IMSA that he can do the job like that. So I was excited for him, and it was exciting racing, too. It was fun to watch. Good for (Alex) Bowman to get in and get that car in the playoffs, so that’s cool. But I was rooting for Joey there at the end.”

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