Challenging Weekend at Laguna Seca for # 57 and # 66 Saito Motorsport Group Cars

This weekend we had the privilege of running Wyatt Couch along with our regular star driver Tyler Gonzalez. I had personally met Wyatt at the Mazda shootout 2 years ago and was immediately impressed by him on and off the track, naturally, expectations were very high for the weekend.

Set up day. With flight disruption affecting the East Coast, most fly-in crews were late to the party but luckily and without hesitation, Wyatt, his family, and his friend Matteo Sunseri stepped up to the plate and helped to quickly offload the race truck and set up the paddock. This was not only unexpected but also showed what a genuinely nice group of people they are, a true family of racers for which I will always be grateful.  

Friday we rolled out for practice 1 and had an abbreviated session with Tyler’s # 57 due to electrical problems while Wyatt’s car had handling problems. After practice 1 we were a little behind but our crew got on top of the issues quickly and were able to make necessary repairs. Practice 2 saw Tyler in the # 57 complete only 3 laps (lost a belt)  while Wyatt in the 66 was still battling issues. Qualifying saw Tyler securing a P4 starting grid spot while Wyatt had engine issues. Saturday race 1  Both drivers ran a very determined race with the highlight being a P3 for Tyler and a very challenging but solid first race for Wyatt as well who was still battling a down on power engine as well as handling issues. Unfortunately, Tyler’s podium didn’t stand and we got hit with a 10-second post-race penalty along with a penalty for car # 66. Late night for both crews to improve the cars for race 2.  

Race 2:  Tyler and Wyatt were both very determined to have strong races and quickly made up positions. Wyatt went from P20 to P11 before half-race distance and setting lap times as quick as the leaders while batting traffic, Tyler quickly battled for the lead of the race while setting very quick lap times. Unfortunately, at this point, Wyatt suffered an engine failure while Tyler had a small contact with another car that damaged the car with two laps to go and had a corner brace causing a severe tire rub. At this point, the race was competitively over for both guys although Tyler’s car was still running and finished the race still in 4th well within the top group. Post-race we were assessed a drive-through penalty that sent us all the way back to San Francisco making this a frustrating weekend that did not net the results that either driver or crew deserved. Sometimes you are the bug, sometimes you are the windshield and needless to say, this weekend we were not the windshield. With 3 time penalties over 6 races for the # 57, the championship becomes very challenging but not an impossible obstacle to overcome. We will continue to strive to give Tyler a car deserving of his talents and hope to not have any more undesirable encounters with race officials. If all goes well, there are plenty of races left to show what this driver and team can do. Now we will regroup and focus on the next race at Mid Ohio hoping to challenge for the results our driver and team deserve. Well done team, let’s focus forward.