IMSA: Nate Stacy Returns to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca Where Continental Tire Challenge Success Began
Courtesy: IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It was one year ago at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca that Nate Stacy burst onto the scene in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.
Making his series debut with KohR Motorsports, the 18-year-old finished third on the podium alongside Scott Maxwell and Jack Roush, Jr. in a four-hour enduro that also doubled as his first time in the Ford Mustang GT4 racecar.
“I almost expected the team to do well because I know how good the team is,” said Stacy. “I knew how good Scott Maxwell and Jack were, so it wasn’t a crazy surprise we got on the podium. It was just like man, we accomplished what we wanted to do. We had a goal to reach and that was to win or to get on the podium. We ended up meeting that.”
Even with the outstanding first impression, Stacy has come a long way since his debut.
Now paired with Kyle Marcelli in the No. 60 Mustang, the duo has won a class-high three races entering the ninth and penultimate round of the 2018 Grand Sport (GS) class championship. Their success has helped skyrocket Ford into the lead of the manufacturer’s championship by 13 points over Mercedes-AMG. Stacy and Marcelli also currently sit second in the driver’s championship, 17 points behind Owen Trinkler and Hugh Plumb.
“I would say it’s a little bit surreal because this field is nothing short of impressive,” said Stacy. “There are crazy good drivers in every single car. I get to the Continental Tire Challenge and every team in the top five to the top 10 is just ridiculous. We’re talking A-List drivers, silver-ranked drivers. There’s a lot of really good drivers here and it’s just like, okay this is a challenge.”
Taking on the challenge has been a little easier for the Oklahoma native, as he’s leaned on Marcelli – a full-time IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship co-driver in the No. 14 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 in the GT Daytona (GTD) class – and team owner Dean Martin.
“I was pretty happy with where I was, but Kyle was on a whole other level,” said Stacy. “It was insane how fast he was. I had never been to Watkins Glen, Daytona, and a couple other tracks on the roster this year and it was fun to go try new tracks with him because he knew so much about them. The guy is a vault of knowledge. He’s the smartest, fastest, most humble guy I know. Having him as a teammate is really cool.”
“And having KohR behind me, it’s a super good team. Really good pit stops and awesome strategy calls because Dean is just a freak of nature on the box. It’s honestly just a really good team, a really good set of drivers and I think we can do a lot of good things. If I win in my rookie season, that would be pretty fantastic.”
Stacy hopes that history can repeat itself this weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and is eager to return to a track that particularly suits his driving style.
“Everything is always changing at that track with the dust,” said Stacy. “It’s kind of a good feature of the track honestly. Everything can change in a quarter of a second. Whenever you come into a corner, you don’t know if there’s going to be dirt there, you don’t know if there’s going to be dust there, if you’re going to stick, if you’re going to slide.
“You’ve just got to improvise a lot and that’s how I specialize in driving, when it’s sheer chaos at the start of the race and everyone doesn’t know what they’re doing. That’s kind of when I thrive a little bit. I like to go into a situation and instinctually attack it.”