Our friend Patrick Chio has been racing his Nissan 350z competitively for several years and we’ve had the pleasure of helping him tune/maintain the car for events. Recently he campaigned the Z in the USTCC (US Touring Car Championship series) with impressive results, enjoy his report! For past updates on the Z please follow the links below:
z car garage tuned 350z gets 2nd place
2nd place finish for patrick in zcg tuned 350z
cool it now patricks time attack 350z.html
time attack winner patricks z33
This marks the first debut of Z Car Garage Nissan 350z full race car in USTCC (US Touring Car Championship series) at Buttonwillow Raceway for the 2 hours enduro race. This is also the first wheel to wheel race for Patrick Chio as a rookie in his first season.
In the field, we have the only Nissan race car, majority of the field are BMW M3s, with a mix of Hyundai Genesis, Mitsubishi Lancer, Mazda Rx-8, Acura RSX:
Since it is a 2 hours endurance race, we decided to have one driver change. We have invited Andrie Hartanto (Pro Driver) for our second driver. His experience on racing, strategy will be a big contribution to our team.
The 350z was supercharged before the race, but due to the touring class rule of USTCC, we have to remove the supercharger and back to naturally aspirated with 11.9:1 Power to weight ratio. Since it was a 2 hours race, reliability is the key for success. Rob at Z Car garage has been spending his time to dyno tune the Z with max reliability and good fuel consumption while having sustainable power to be competitive in the field.
During practice, we have set the fastest TC Class time of the day, drawing some extra attention from the tech officials, warranting further inspection. Following further scrutiny, (re-weight and check horsepower rating) Chio’s 350Z was found to be fully compliant and legal.
During the qualifying session, we have qualified 3rd position in traffic. The 1st and 2nd places are all within a sec in time.
When the race started, Chio found himself sitting on the pole position due to the top two competitors arriving late to the grid. He was caught off guard when a competitor lined up on the far inside of the grid before the start, boxing him in and leaving the rookie with nowhere to go.
In a frenzied start, Chio dropped back into fifth position shortly after the green flag dropped, but ran a clean consistent race. His steady driving among a tough field allowed Chio to quietly work his way back up to third place in the TC Class field when it came time to hand the car over to Hartanto.
After a strong initial showing in Chio’s first ever race, a stroke of misfortune hit the team. The team executed a flawless pit stop and driver change, however the safety car was dispatched right as Hartanto was sent out to resume the race, thus holding the 350Z in seventh place after the pit stop.
Once the incident on-track had been cleared and the all-clear had been given to resume racing, Hartanto pushed hard until the last lap of the race. By the time the race had ended, Hartanto had clawed back to regain all of the positions lost after the pit stop and lengthy safety car period. At the end, Chio earned his first podium finish of the USTCC TC Class and a podium finish in his first race of his rookie season.
Post-race, it was determined that the race winner was underweight, thus bumping Chio and Hartanto into second position.
“The Z is surprisingly competitive,” Chio remarked after the race. “There are a few things that we still have to figure out, such as the brakes, but we should definitely have a good chance of finishing within the top positions.”
Hartanto echoed Chio’s comments. “We got the 350Z in the mix right away and we even topped the time sheet in practice. The car is fun to drive and shares a lot of similarities with the BMW. I had a lot of fun and would be glad to do it again.”
At the end, big shout out to Z car garage for the help to getting our 350z performed so well and was able to endure the full 2 hours race without any problem. Our next race will be at Utah, Miller Motor Sport Park. Stay tuned.
USTCC Round 2, Miller Motor Sport Park, UTAH
This time, our Z Car Garage Nissan 350Z traveled all the way to UTAH Miller Motorsport Park for the second round of USTCC (US Touring Car Championship). This was our first time at this race track and we were running the east side configuration. The east side of the track is known for middle speed corners and tight road course. Compared to our last Buttonwillow 2hr endurance race, this time is a 45mins sprint race.
With the high attitude of the UTAH race track, all the NA cars are suffered power lost. The car feels much slower than in California race track. On Saturday, we will be doing 2 practices and 1 qualify session for the Sunday race.
On Saturday, we have qualified 2nd in position. This first place pole sitter is a turbo Mitsubishi Lancer which benefited from forced induction in a high attitude environment. Unfortunately, due to a miscommunication, we missed the entrance of post qualifying weighting and disqualified from the result. We have to start all way back in the field during the race.
On Sunday, as much as we were disappointed from the qualifying result, we focused back to winning the race. We were able to climb back to the third position within 15mins into the race. Since the first leading car was so far ahead, we were aiming to finish 2nd. By the last lap, we were able to chase down the 2nd place BMW M3 bumper to bumper. At the very end of the race, we decided to make a pass on a tight corner, it was now or never. However, due to brake locked up, we sightly tapped the m3 rear bumper and lost all the momentum. At the end, we finished 3rd place of this round USTCC race.
At the end, we realized that we are still in the learning period on wheel to wheel racing and the rules as the first season. We will be back next time at our home track Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
As a side note, we stopped by the world famous Bonneville Salt Flats on our way back. 🙂