On Friday, Cresson, Tex.-based Lone Star Racing announced that they will run part-time in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT Daytona class. Team owner Dan Knox and Mike Skeen will drive the No. 80 Mercedes-AMG GT3 in four races, starting at COTA (Circuit of the Americas) in early May. In addition to COTA, the team will race at Road America, VIR and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Primary sponsorship will be provided by ACS Manufacturing, a Denison, Tex.-based manufacturer of noise reduction enclosures.
Knox wanted to do additional races, but life got in the way of those plans.
“We would love to do more races, who wouldn’t, but I also have many time commitments away from [the] race track with family and business,” Knox said in the team’s press release. “It has been six months since we last raced, so we are anxious to get things going very soon at COTA.”
Lone Star Racing’s schedule is identical to the one they had last season. In those four races, the duo of Knox and Skeen ran very competitively, but ran into some issues. Their best finish was eighth in class at COTA last September.
Skeen realizes that he was in position to post some good results last year with Lone Star Racing. He’s anxious to finally bring those good results home.
“Last year we were knocking on the door of a top-five finish on a couple of occasions but never quite got the result due to a few different reasons,” Skeen said. “The competition is as strong as ever, but I think we are capable of that performance again if we put everything together. Like always, execution is the name of the game.”
To NASCAR fans, Skeen might be best known for his one-off in the Camping World Truck Series at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in 2013 for Sharp Gallaher Racing. That race ended in a last-lap crash with Max Papis.
Last years’ races were done with a Dodge Viper GT3-R. That car is no longer eligible to compete in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Switching to Mercedes means adapting to the car’s wants and needs.
“The cars are somewhat similar,” AJ Petersen, Lone Star Racing’s Team Manager stated. “Mercedes-AMG has done a great job with this car. It has high levels of downforce and quick responses to driver input, which brings driver confidence. It has less torque than the Viper that should help the car be easier on the tires and make for a more consistent pace throughout a stint.”
The team has conducted a private test session at COTA ahead of their season debut. So far, things are looking pretty good.
“Our recent test at COTA has shown that the returning members of the team are all ready to go, and we have some excellent new additions as well,” Skeen said. “The new car, for one, is very exciting and should prove very competitive. The racing in IMSA is always good although I believe we should be able to find some good success at COTA. We had a strong run last year even though we didn’t have the best results, so hopefully we can hit the ground running when we get back to Austin.”
Petersen has indicated that additional races could be added to their 2017 schedule. However, that would be dependent on the right driver coming into the team that can supplement the team’s budget.
For Lone Star Racing, the Advance Auto Parts Sportscar Showdown at COTA is coming up quick. The team’s season debut will be May 6. The race can be seen on FOX Sports 1 on same-day tape delay at 7 p.m.