Top 20 finish for Abbate's First Time at Watkins Glen
September 13, 2022
The 10th round of the 2022 Trans Am National Tour Championship Series headed to the iconic Watkins Glen International Raceway. This would be another new track for Michele Abbate as she took to it in the #30 Ghost Energy Ford Mustang prepared by the BC Race Cars team.
"This track seems a bit daunting but I am really excited to get on it for the first time in my career. Although a new track comes with a flurry of feelings, it never disappoints to face the challenge of learning it as quickly as possible and performing my best throughout the weekend. The TA2 class has so many veteran drivers and even several young guns with massive talent it is really an honor to be out there with such a competitive field", Michele explained.
Thursday provided two test sessions, although both were cut short due to incidents with drivers on track. After only getting 12 laps total from the day, she was able to improve her 1:59.4 to a 1:56.3 within that time.
Thankfully Friday offered 1 practice session prior to qualifying. After shaving 2 more seconds in practice Abbate felt confident heading in qualifying, but unfortunately as she went to take her first flying lap, #97 lost control of his car in the middle of the bus stop just in front of Abbate causing her to make contact with the tire wall taking her out of the session. With no qualifying time earned, Abbate would be forced to start dead last out of the 43 car field.
"This is definitely disappointing, but I am grateful for the BC Race Cars team who put in several hours of work to get the #30 Ghost Energy car back to race ready conditions after that hard hit to the rear of our car. It is because of them I will be able to take the green flag tomorrow", Michele shared.
The 100-mile race was full of excitement and Abbate did an excellent job executing passes throughout the entire race. By the 3rd lap she had already made up 10 positions from her starting spot.
"Every lap she was improving and making smart, calculated moves. It was really exciting to watch and she has really shown her capabilities behind the wheel. The amount of race craft Michele has learned over this season is obvious and it's exciting to see her progress", Crew Chief Anthony Philleo said.
With around 6 laps remaining Abbate was catching the next 4 competitors ahead of her. Unfortunately due to the excessive amount of grass on the track her engine began to overheat.
"This was the first time I've ever had to manage my engine temperatures and it was definitely distracting, but I know the extreme importance of taking care of the car during the race and I was incredibly grateful we were able to manage it to the finish line," Michele said.
Abbate crossed the line P17 in the National Tour category and made an impressive run passing over 20 cars during the race. Be sure to catch the The TA2 race, presented by Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers, broadcasted on the CBS Sports Network:
Premiere: Wednesday, September 14 at 7:00 p.m. ET
Encore: Thursday, September 15 at 12:30 a.m. ET
There are two remaining races left in the 2022 season. Oct 6-9 at Virginia International Raceway and November 4-6 for the Championship Finale at COTA.
Abbate has earned another position higher in the TA2 Championship overall points and is currently sitting 22nd out of 68 entries. Her sights are set on a Top 20 finish for her debut year in the TA2 National Tour season with one of the most competitive fields in the history of the class.