Silver Hare Duo Wraps Up California Swing at Sonoma
April 27, 2022
There may not be a pair of drivers more ready to get back to work than the Silver Hare Racing duo of Connor Zilisch and Lawless Alan, who with their twin TA2-class racing machines head to Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway for Sunday’s Mission Foods Sonoma SpeedTour, round five of the 2022 Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli.
A pair of strong performances in last Sunday’s race just 150 miles down the California coast at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca near Monterey left Zilisch, Alan and the rest of the Silver Hare camp looking ahead to this weekend’s race as soon as the checkered flag waved.
Zilisch, the 15-year-old rising star, overcame a first-lap incident and several late-race restarts at Laguna Seca to lock down a fifth-place finish, best in the first four outings of his rookie season. Alan, the 22-year-old NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular who’s taking advantage of back-to-back off weekends in that series to hone his road-racing skills, appeared headed for an eighth-place finish at Laguna Seca before being shoved off the track in the closing laps. He held on to cross the finish line 12th and was subsequently scored 11th after a post-race penalty was assessed to a competitor ahead of him.
For the second weekend in a row and the third time in five races this season, Zilisch, driver of the No. 57 Silver Hare Racing/KHI Management Chevrolet Camaro, will get his first in-person look at the 2.52-mile, 11-turn road course configuration at Sonoma when he reports for duty this weekend. But like he did in March on his hometown Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval, and again last weekend at Laguna Seca, Zilisch has been uncanny in his ability to get up to speed on new circuits very quickly. The 10th grader from Mooresville, North Carolina, has been showing that ability since his very first Trans Am race weekend at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, where he became the youngest pole-winner in series history with a lap of 1:48.905. At Charlotte, Zilisch laid down the fastest practice and qualifying laps, as well as the fastest lap of the race.
Alan, a native of Van Nuys, California, is looking to build upon his solid competitive debut in Silver Hare equipment last weekend at Laguna Seca. The driver of the No. 25 AUTOParkIt racing machine does have previous racing experience at Sonoma, which came during back-to-back weekends in June 2019. The first came in a TA2 car with the Trans Am West Coast Championship tour, the second in a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West stock car. Laguna Seca was Alan’s first Trans Am event since he drove the full 2019 season with Mike Cope Race Cars and earned TA2 Rookie of the Year honors with his fifth-place finish in the final driver standings behind nine top-10s in 13 races. He hopes the experience he gains this weekend at Sonoma will help pay dividends when he returns to the track in June with the Truck Series.
Silver Hare Racing leverages its Trans Am effort to promote its arrive-and-drive program, where aspiring racers and even tenured professionals hone their road-racing skills on some of the most revered tracks in North America. NASCAR Cup Series drivers Daniel Suárez, William Byron, Harrison Burton and Christopher Bell have all wheeled Silver Hare Racing-prepared cars to burnish their road-racing abilities. In addition to top-flight equipment, Silver Hare Racing offers professional driver coaching.
The team offers six, professionally built and maintained TA2 chassis from Howe Racing for both competition and private testing. Silver Hare Racing has a dedicated, fulltime crew and operates out of a state-of-the-art facility in High Point, North Carolina. At the track, two 53-foot Featherlite transporters serve as the team’s base, each outfitted with a lounge and smart TVs for data and video review, as well as for hospitality.
“With NASCAR having so many more road-course races, it’s our goal for Silver Hare Racing to be the preferred team for drivers to get that road-course experience,” said Laura Hull, team manager, Silver Hare Racing. “We want to be that important step in the ladder for the young, up-and-coming drivers like Connor, which we’re doing in collaboration with Kevin Harvick Incorporated.
“It started when they brought him to us for testing at VIR a year ago, and now we’re delighted to have him under contract. That’s how we’re trying to position this. We want people to know we have an arrive-and-drive program, where people who want to run this track or another, we provide the opportunity for them to do that and be successful.”
Connor Zilisch, driver No. 57 Silver Hare Racing/KHI Management:
“I haven’t been to Sonoma, yet, but I’ve done a bunch of laps on the sim. I think it’ll be a good track for me. I like it on the sim. It should be a lot of fun. We’re going to work hard and see if we can get the pace we need, get up to Rafa (Matos) and Mike (Skeen) and them, and I think we’ve got a good starting point.
“Laguna Seca is overall a slower track than Sonoma – lots of hairpins and tighter corners. Sonoma’s more of a flowy track with long corners. Overall, they’re not too far apart from each other, but I think Sonoma will suit me a little better and, hopefully, we’ll be a little better there. And I think we have a good reference and a good starting point for where we should be with the car this weekend.
“I’m really happy with the progress we’ve made. We’ve been fast. I’m starting to get to know these guys better, and I’m enjoying working with all of them. The help they’ve provided me has been beneficial. I’m super excited to continue through the rest of the year. I’ve got seven races left, so I think we have a bunch of opportunity to get better and see if we can get up on that box. That’s the goal for right now. I think we have the speed to do it, we just need a weekend where we get a full race without a big incident that kind of sets us back. But I think we’re headed in the right direction with our best finish last weekend, and I’m looking forward to what we can do at Sonoma.
“Lawless had some issues, himself, last weekend, but in the race he was really quick. He was right there with me at one point until someone took him out of it. I think me and him, after all the practices and stuff, we went over our data and I definitely found some things I could learn from him and there were definitely some things he could learn from me, so I think it was beneficial to have him running with us. It was another piece of the puzzle that could help our team out and, hopefully, get us a better result moving forward.”
Lawless Alan, driver, No. 25 AUTOParkIt/Silver Hare Racing:
“I have probably a little bit more experience at Sonoma than I have at Laguna Seca, not by much, but I ran two weekends at Sonoma a few years ago and I only ran one at Laguna, so that’s slightly more experience. I ran the West Coast Trans Am race and a week later was the regular Trans Am race. I’m glad to be going to a track that we’re going to be running in the Trucks and getting used to what I should do when we come back in June. It feels good to just take a couple of weeks off and just drive something with no pressure.
“The way I would describe Sonoma, it’s a lot more downhill rather than uphill, like Laguna. Even though you have to go both ways, Laguna, a lot of it, the first half of the track, it feels like you’re going uphill and then you go downhill for what feels like that last two corners. But at Sonoma, you go uphill immediately through turn one, and then the rest of the track you’re kind of working your way down. It’s really fun. Sonoma is a lot faster.
“It was good working with Connor last weekend. We were kind of the same speed, but I think Connor was just a little bit faster on average. The Silver Hare guys are really smart. We made our car a lot better throughout the weekend at Laguna. For the setup changes that we made, we really didn’t have time to root out the next step – we ended up needing some drive off the corner. We now know that for this week, so that will be good for Sonoma.”
Maurice Hull, owner, Silver Hare Racing:
“Both our cars were fast at Laguna Seca. There was a lot of traffic and some really crazy restarts. Both of our cars got moved off the track and lost positions. But both of our drivers drove extremely well, kept their heads screwed on the right way and didn’t make stupid mistakes. I was proud of them. It was a really tough race and it was tough to pass on that track.
“We’re going to Sonoma with two fast cars and I’m really happy about that. Lawless has some experience there and Connor will be there for the first time. But as far as being able to deal with a learning curve, I thought Connor’s was very short at Laguna. Never having been there, he was very fast. Usually it takes a while to get up to speed on a new track. He’s pretty good, so I’m excited to see what he does at Sonoma.
“Sonoma looks a lot to me like Road Atlanta, with elevation changes and the types of corners, though I’ve never driven it. We were all good at Road Atlanta, so I hope that bodes well for us this weekend.
“I’m very hopeful that we can continue to show maturity and finish well. People may have been a little bit more careful with the first West Coast race last weekend, but the gloves might come off in this second race because they don’t have to keep their cars in one piece. I hope this race is as civil as it was at Laguna, although there was a lot going on as it was. Connor got run off at the first corner of the race and Lawless got put off coming to the end of the race, which wasn’t good. We had some bad luck, but other than those two incidents, both of them drove through the field.
“We head to Sonoma well prepared, and our guys did a really good job tuning our cars and setting them up at Laguna. We unloaded and we made them better every time out. We seem to have the pieces all put together. Now we just have to go out and execute.”
About Silver Hare Racing:
Silver Hare Racing is a fulltime competitor in the TA2 division of the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli. The multicar team has won the TA2 Masters class championship three times (2018, 2019 and 2020) with driver and team co-owner Maurice Hull. Under the leadership of Hull’s wife, co-owner and team manager Laura Hull, Silver Hare Racing provides a variety of services that includes private testing and arrive-and-drive programs. The team offers six, professionally built and maintained TA2 chassis from Howe Racing and operates from a state-of-the-art facility in High Point, North Carolina. For more information, please visit SilverHareRacing.com.
-Silver Hare Racing-