IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge rookie Taylor Hagler earned her best finish of the 2020 IMSA season, finishing fourth in the VP Racing Stay Frosty 240 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Sunday.
Taking the green flag for the four-event, Hagler advanced the No. 77 L.A. Honda World Honda Civic Type R TCR four positions to fifth on the opening lap. Settling into race pace, Hagler battled bumper-to-bumper with her TCR class competition for 28 laps before the first yellow flag came out.
Making her first pit stop on Lap 35 during a full course caution, Hagler was prepared for the restart in the No. 77 Honda armed with four new tires and full tank of fuel to take on the 2.54 circuit.
Hagler made the most of the return to green flag action, racing up into podium position before the race was slowed for a second time on lap 71. Hagler completed her two-hour stint and brought the Honda Civic to pit lane and handed the controls over to teammate Ryan Eversley.
Eversley kept the No. 77 Honda in fourth, but after just six laps a cut tire on Lap 87 forced the L.A. Honda World team to resort to an alternate pit strategy for the remaining one hour, 37-minutes of the first IMSA endurance event since the season-opening Daytona round.
As the checkered flag flew, the No. 77 Honda Civic came home in fourth, which marked the pair’s best finish of the season as well Hagler’s career best IMSA result as she continues to progress in her rookie year.
“The car was working so well for us that my main focus was just on completing each stint and moving as far up the field as I could,” said Hagler. “We started the weekend having issues with the tires, so we were trying to figure out the best setup to make them work as well as possible for the race.”
The multi-class event saw the TCR runners in constant contact with the faster GS class entries. With Sunday’s race coming under control of the safety car on multiple occasions, the L.A. Honda World team continued to adjust its strategy to make the most of the situation.
“There were a lot of yellows which helped us manage the tire degradation quite a bit,” said Hagler. “We were able to find what worked for us to minimize those issues. Today’s finish is well-deserved and hopefully we’re able to take this result and use it to turn around our season. Road Atlanta is one of the tracks that I have the most experience on, which helped my confidence behind the wheel. We’re still hoping for some more luck as we head to Mid-Ohio, but today was an overall good day.”
Hagler will return to IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge competition for a doubleheader weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course September 26-27th.