Tioga Downs Casino Resort 120 preview

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – For the next leg of the 2022 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, Johnson, Simpson and the Bryan Herta Autosport (BHA) team will travel to southwestern New York State for the Tioga Downs Casino Resort 120, as part of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, at famed Watkins Glen International in the town of Dix.

The two-hour race at the 3.4-mile, 11-corner track is scheduled for a 3:35 p.m. start on Saturday, June 25.

All IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge races are streamed live on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. IMSA Radio also provides live audio coverage of select Michelin Pilot Challenge practice, qualifying sessions and full-length coverage of all races.

“Watkins Glen has always been a super iconic track that puts on good racing,” said Johnson. “I have had success here in the past and always look forward to coming back. I love the high speed and elevation. I know our Universal Coating No. 54 Hyundai Elantra N TCR will be good at the end of a stint, so I’m looking forward to getting a really good result.”

A year ago, Johnson and Simpson raced at Watkins Glen twice, in back-to-back weeks. The team first placed sixth in the 2021 Tioga Downs Casino Resort 120 and then followed it up with a fifth-place showing at the Sahlen’s 120 at The Glen. The Sahlen’s 120 was originally scheduled for Canadian Tire Motorsport Park but the event was moved from because of the COVID-19 pandemic and international travel restrictions.

The team is coming off a seventh-place finish at the Mid-Ohio 120 in mid-May. Johnson drove a strong race early on, moving up to third position but the ground lost by an error in the pits proved to be too much to overcome. 

“I am excited to get back the race track; it seems like a big gap since Mid-Ohio,” said Simpson. “We have had success at Watkins Glen before. It is one of my favorite tracks, mainly due to the high-grip nature. It’s a very, very, very high grip race track, so it’s a lot quicker than you think it is from inside the race car. I’ve had success there in the past, winning the Sahlen’s six-hour race back in 2018. Watkins Glen holds a lot of very good memories for me. Michael, I know, has been working hard and preparing well for this weekend. Our goals are the same as always, to get on podium and win the race and we’ll do our best to achieve that.”

The weather forecast for race day is a quintessential one for the summer season. Sunny skies with a few clouds are expected, with temperatures projected to be in the low 90s. Winds will be light and variable.

IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge racing continues next week for Johnson, Simpson and the BHA team when they head north of the border to Bowmanville, Ont. for the Canadian Tire Motorsport 120, part of the Chevrolet Grand Prix.

The two-hour race on the 2.459-mile, 10-corner Canadian Tire Motorsport course is set to begin at 4:10 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 2.