TEAM NEWS: Krohn Racing Hopes LeMans Podium Translate to Same Result At Mid-Ohio

Photo by John Thawley Coming off of an exciting podium finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last weekend, the Krohn Racing drivers are elated. They hope this will give them an emotional edge heading into the EMCO Gears Classic Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this Saturday, June 23rd in Lexington, Ohio.

Krohn Racing team owner/driver Tracy Krohn entered into a relationship with Giuseppe Risi earlier this year to field a Risi Competizione-prepared Ferrari 430GT for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Their second-place finish in the LMGT2 class at Le Mans was a rewarding result for the driving trio of Krohn, Nic Jonsson and first-time Le Mans pilot Colin Braun.

Additionally, the duo of Krohn and Jonsson are coming off their best yet Grand-Am result the previous weekend at the Six Hours at the Glen, where they finished in the Top Five in the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley. The No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley of 2004 Grand-Am Rolex Daytona Prototype champion Max Papis and 18-year-old Colin Braun enter the Ohio race fourth in the Prototype Team Championship points race as we near the midway point of the season.

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is a 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course and features Round 7 of 14 for the Grand-Am Prototype Series. Forty-six cars are entered for the 400k/111-lap/two and one-half hour race, including 19 DP and 27 GT cars.

Tracy W. Krohn, team owner/driver, No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley:

You are just coming off a podium finish at Le Mans -- How did that feel?

"It felt really good. I was very pleased. The weather conditions were just atrocious. Most of the time it was pretty bad. I think everybody was very patient. We just drove the car, not trying to do anything fancy. Both Colin and Nic did an outstanding job. Nic was very quick and Colin was right there. The Ferrari performed flawlessly and was very well prepared by the Risi crew. We had no problems with the car whatsoever. All of the systems worked the entire 24 hours -- the motor, transmission, all the electrical systems were perfect. We nailed the set-up on wet and dry, so the car was very drivable both ways. Giuseppe's (Risi) team just did a great job and we tried to give them a good finish and it worked out very well. It was a nice partnership. It was unfortunate that they had problems with their other car that finally forced them to retire. Fortunately, we were able to stay out of trouble and keep the car going to the end."

You recently had a Top Five at Watkins Glen and a good test at Mid-Ohio -- Do you feel more prepared going in?

"We did some testing there, so I think so. I expect good things at Mid-Ohio. I like the track. We're always very good there. We are coming off a pretty nice performance at Le Mans, so there has not been much down time since we've been in the car, so I think we're very well prepared."

Nic feels you guys have the momentum going in to Mid-Ohio...would you agree?

"Absolutely, you're always going to think more as you're moving closer and closer to the top about your chances. That always gives everyone a little more confidence, not just the drivers but the rest of the team as well."

How do you like the Mid-Ohio circuit?

"Mid-Ohio is a driver's track. I really like the track. The more I drive it, the more I enjoy it. That's kind of like most of tracks we go to. Mid-Ohio is really a driver's track though because it's got a little bit of everything. It's got some elevation changes, some high speed, and some low speed. It's just got a lot of difference challenges, so it's a pretty impressive track."

Mid-Ohio marks the halfway point of the season, does that get you more focused on the championship?

"You bet. I think everyone is pretty well focused on that. We're not where we want to be but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. There's that distinct possibility of still being there."

Nic Jonsson, driver, No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley:

You are just coming off a podium finish at Le Mans -- How did that feel?

"It feels very good since it is one of the largest races in the world every year. The three big ones are the Indy 500, the Monaco Grand Prix and the Le Mans 24 Hour. If you stand on the podium at one of those three events, you feel like you have accomplished something in racing.

I'm very, very happy for Tracy because he is the one who made this all possible for us by making the deal with Risi to start with, with such a great team to prep the car, and also to be one of the drivers. Tracy has come a long way from when I first met him and started working together five years ago. He went from the Panoz Racing School to the podium at Le Mans. I'm very happy and proud of myself, but I am ecstatic to be able to be a part of helping Tracy get to that point. All the time, effort and money he has spent on this, it makes it fantastic!

The preparation of the car was flawless. Everything -- the gearbox, brakes, everything was as good the last hour of the race as it was the first hour. That says a lot about the Risi team, the crew and what a good job they all do. We had the right approach to not try and go as fast as we could every stint, but to pace ourselves and take care of the equipment. That normally pays off. We thought if we kept the car on track and ran a consistent race pace, we would have a chance of a top four, and potentially to be on the podium."

How do you like the Mid-Ohio circuit?

"I really like the Mid-Ohio race track. It has a little bit of everything - elevation changes, long straightaways, hard braking, 90 degree corners, some carrousels -- slow, round, long corners. It is also obviously a very historical and traditional sports car track. It's always fun to come back there. They repaved the track last year and that added some more elements. Before you needed to know where all the bumps were. Now you can take more lines, which opens up a little bit more opportunity, but also makes it more difficult to really go fast. Now you have to really find that line to see where the most grip is. I'm very excited because we also had a good test there several weeks ago with both cars.

We've had good runs there before. Tracy and I led the race two years ago, but we got black flagged for some oil leak or something. We also had a good run there last year. I think we have a good car and we all like the track, so I am really looking forward to the weekend. I think we will have a good car to start out with and we should be very good from the get-go."

Mid-Ohio marks the halfway point of the season, does that get you more focused on the championship?

"I think obviously the championship is always important and Tracy and I haven't had the most luck in the beginning of the year with Daytona with some mechanicals and some other bad luck. It feels like we have turned it around with the successful test in Mid-Ohio, then another successful test at Le Mans. We came back and had a fifth-place finish -- the best for us so far this year -- at the Six Hour at the Glen two weeks ago. Now coming off of Le Mans with a second-place finish, it feels like we kind of turned the season around and we have momentum going for us. Now we have to be as smart as we have been the last few races, be able to keep the car on track and keep plugging away. I think things will fall into place. It feels like we actually have the momentum on our side now."

Max Papis, driver, No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley:

Tell us about the Le Mans race for you with GM's Corvette Racing team?

"Le Mans was a big disappointment. We worked so hard in the Corvette organization to prepare for the Le Mans race. We had the only single failure in history to happen to Corvette at Le Mans with the No. 64 car this year. The No. 63 car ran very well and finished on the podium.

I was extremely pleased to see that the other three guys (Tracy, Nic and Colin) got on the podium at Le Mans. It was good for everyone, but especially good for someone like Tracy and Nic that should have already gotten on the podium in Grand-Am this year. They got pretty close in the last race but they couldn't quite do it. This time to go on the podium is a great satisfaction, especially at Le Mans."

You have a lot of history at Mid-Ohio since you came to the States in 1996 -- Rolex, CART, SCCA and ALMS - including a victory in 2004 with Pruett and fourth-place with Team Rahal in 2000 in CART, as well as holding the Grand-Am track qualifying record. Tell us about your affinity for Mid-Ohio:

"Mid-Ohio definitely, for me, is a track that is really close to my heart for all the reasons mentioned. It was my debut in Champ car and a victory in Grand-Am in 2004. It is an awesome race track and a place where I have a lot of race fans. I love to compete there. We have had pretty good success in the past. It would be the perfect place to try to give the first win to Krohn Racing this year."

You have a special personal activity this weekend at Mid-Ohio as well?

"Yes, Mason Ream, a young kid and native of Mansfield, Ohio, whom I have know since I first raced there, had a battle with cancer and passed away last year at 12 years old. We are celebrating his life, with the memory of both he and my Dad, by having a cookout Friday night after qualifying with his family and school friends. We hope to start a little legacy and grow this into a fundraiser for cancer research in coming years."

Colin Braun, driver, No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley:

What was the Le Mans race experience like for you as a first-time competitor?

"Le Mans was a very challenging experience for me. It was such a long race. I didn't realize how hard Le Mans would actually be to finish. I was very surprised only five GT2 cars finished the race. I had the best time driving with Tracy and Nic. They both did a really great job. The whole Risi crew really worked hard. It was great to be there at the end and get to experience the whole race. My favorite part was just being able to be a part of the whole 24 Hours, all 24 hours of it, and to be there at the end. To finish second was icing on the cake."

The Krohn Racing team recently did a test at Mid-Ohio -- How do you feel the test went?

"I think the test we had at Mid-Ohio went really well. Max and I both got a lot of things accomplished at the test. Just having been there at the track this year and knowing a little more of what to expect I think is really going to help us out."

How do you like the Mid-Ohio circuit?

"I am a huge fan of Mid-Ohio. I think it is one of my favorite tracks. It's very similar to Barber and Road Atlanta. It's a very fast, flowing, high grip race track. It's a special race track for me because I sat on the pole there last year as my very first pole in Grand-Am. Although it was taken away, it was still my first pole I had. It's just a really fun track. I love driving there. I love all the elevation changes and it has such a good flow and good rhythm. It makes it one of my favorite tracks to go to."

Jeff Hazell, Krohn Racing Team Manager:

The team is just coming off of a podium finish at Le Mans. Does that have everyone pumped up going into Mid-Ohio?

"I think so. Certainly the track time is good for everybody. I think the drivers (although Max did not get much track time, I have to say, unfortunately his Corvette broke a shaft). Now one has to readjust to the rather more varied driving skills that surround us in Grand-Am and re-tune to the requirements of Grand-Am, which are quite different than Le Mans."

How did the recent test go at Mid-Ohio for the Krohn Racing team?

"We had a good test at Mid-Ohio and it indicated that the surface has changed quite a lot since we raced there last year. Not all the teams were at that test, but we felt that we were probably the quickest team at that test. We've got the set-up we arrived at on file and will probably look at some other set-ups in the early part of the week there."

The Krohn Racing team sits fourth in the Daytona Prototype points chase with the No. 75 entry and 11th with the No. 76 entry after six of 14 races this season. Papis and Braun have two podium finishes, a second-place at both VIR and Mexico City. Braun also captured the pole at both those races. Krohn and Jonsson have one Top Five and two Top Ten finishes so far this year.

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