Hagler Finishes Second in Thrilling Sebring Eventadmin
Taylor Hagler overcame several early setbacks before she and her Bryan Herta Autosport co-driver Michael Lewis made a thrilling charge back up the order to finish second in Thursday’s Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 at Sebring International Raceway. The podium finish is the duo’s second of the 2022 season as they look to make a successful defense of their 2021 IMSA TCR class championship.
After a rock solid qualifying run on Wednesday put Hagler fifth on the grid in the No. 1 Hyundai Elantra N TCR, she had her sights set on the front of the field at the drop of the green flag. But those intentions would have to wait, as the No. 1 entry was assessed two consecutive drive-through penalties for a tire infraction post-qualifying.
Serving the penalties early on, Hagler was determined to make up for time lost in pit lane. It was Hagler’s motivation along with her race strategist, Stefano Galante’s call that moved her up the field following an early pit stop for fuel only.
Hagler managed her pace as the field navigated a trio of yellow flags early in the race. A lap 26 pit stop saw her turn the controls over to teammate Michael Lewis. Lewis returned to action following a stop for fuel and front tires only.
Two more yellow flag periods proceeded the driver exchange and left the team to make a critical final pit stop decision to change all four Michelin tires for Lewis to race hard to the finish.
Lewis charged from seventh to third with just 30 minutes remaining on the clock. Following one final yellow flag period, Lewis advanced one final position as he pressured the leader into a tricky Turn 17 on the final lap. A fight till the end saw Lewis cross the line second, just 0.1-seconds shy of a victory.
“I’m so proud of the team for a second place finish today, especially with how the beginning of our race went,” said Hagler. “The drive throughs were obviously really frustrating and I was just trying to figure it out once we got back in the pack. Stefano, my engineer, did a really good job of having a really good strategy to get us back up there. I didn’t really get to get a good feel for the car because I think I maybe got about three or four green laps because of the yellows, but the three laps I did have the car was handling really well. I was able to give the car to Michael up a few positions from where we filter out after the penalties and he took it from there and just did an awesome job all the way to the finish.” Hagler will head to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for the third round of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Championship for Hyundai’s title sponsored race – the Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Grand Prix.