DANVILLE, Va. — Led by Texas-based team owner and driver Dan Knox, Lone Star Racing will make its Virginia Int’l Raceway debut at the Michelin GT Challenge, Aug. 26–28, where Mike Skeen will co-drive the team’s No. 80 ACS Manufacturing/Lone Star Racing Dodge Viper GT3-R.
Knox and Skeen will race the ACS Manufacturing/Lone Star Racing No. 80 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT Daytona (GTD) division in the featured two-hour and 40-minute VIR race.
The Michelin GT Challenge at VIR is one of four scheduled IMSA races for Lone Star this year as Knox and his team evaluate a full season of competition in 2017.
Lone Star made its 2016 racing debut this past May at Laguna Seca and built some momentum for a good VIR weekend with a top-10 finish two weeks ago in the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Making just the third career start for the team in the IMSA GTD class, Knox drove the race-opening stint at Road America and ran as high as sixth as the GTD field came in for first pit stops just under an hour into the two-hour and 40-minute race.
“I had my fastest lap time of the weekend in the Road America race so that’s very positive,” Knox said. “It just comes down to more seat time and more practice. Everything went really well, so we’re going to take that away, be very positive and build on it at VIR.”
Knox handed the Viper off to Skeen during the first pit stop at Road America and the No. 80 finished the race in 10th place in a close and highly-competitive field, on the lead lap and only a little over 10 seconds behind the GTD race winners.
“Road America does have some similarities to VIR,” Skeen said. “Obviously, high-speed corner data will transfer pretty well and heavy braking zones too, but the main thing is just general stuff that we can apply to make everything go more smoothly for the whole team.”
Knox is ready to take another step up in the Michelin GT Challenge.
“I am going to work hard on improving my lap times throughout the weekend and try to be a better qualifier,” Knox said. “If we start a little higher up at the beginning of the race I think our outcome will be much better.”
While VIR will be an all-new experience for Knox and Lone Star Racing, Skeen will be making his first race start in seven years on a circuit the North Carolina-resident calls his home track.
“The VIR track is a great facility,” Skeen said. “I basically grew up there through high school and my first formative years racing cars were at VIR and I have got a lot of laps around there.”
Skeen has not raced at VIR since the 2009 Trans Am race due to scheduling and commitments in other racing series, but he is frequently at the track for driver coaching and testing.
“I have had a lot of memorable adventures racing at VIR,” Skeen said. “Mostly back in my first years of racing cars in the NASA SpecE30 class. That was some very tight racing with many different classes on track, and it led to some great on track battles, splitting traffic, diving to the grass, passing in the esses, all of that good stuff. I think those years really honed some of my race craft and have made me a better driver today.”
CREDIT: Lone Star Racing