A year ago, Paul Miller Racing debuted its BMW M4 GT3 after several years of competing with Lamborghini. Having missed the Rolex 24 at Daytona due to getting the car late – perhaps a blessing in disguise, given the M4 GT3’s performance in its first race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – they quickly made the most of it; Madison Snow and Bryan Sellers winning the non-points race at Long Beach, backing that up with a win at Lime Rock, and going on to secure the Sprint Cup championship in GTD.
The endurance results for the team in 2022 left a lot to be desired, however. This is a team that in 2020 won both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Michelin Endurance Cup to go along with the 2018 overall GTD title. In 2021, Paul Miller Racing just missed out on the GTD championship after podium finishes at the Rolex 24 and the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen to go along with victories at Long Beach and VIR.
Now in 2023, Paul Miller Racing has an endurance race victory after taking the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. What did the team have that it didn’t in 2022? Sure, it has a better handle on the BMW; but there was one component missing – the third driver to accompany Sellers and Snow that had been away racing with another team: Corey Lewis.
“We seem to have a pretty good history together,” said Lewis after the Sebring victory. “It’s awesome to have the band back together after being away for a year. Selfishly, I’ve been wanting to come back as soon as I could. Being a part of this program and with the pairing, we just gel so well together. It’s all truly a team effort. You know the guys at the shop, all the effort that they put in, the guys on the box calling strategies, pit stops were flawless. And then the way that Madison, Bryan and I work so well together, there is no ego. We’re all trying to help each other become better. We push each other on and off the track. And again, it’s just a great combination and just forever grateful.”
Added Snow: “We like each other, we have fun driving together.”
If you look at the top of the fastest lap chart for the race, you won’t find Paul Miller Racing. But you would find the three drivers in a relatively tight grouping further down the list, Snow being the quickest. Thanks to that consistency, the No. 1 BMW stayed near the front most of the race, but it was largely strategy that earned the victory. Snow made the last stop 1h48m51s prior to the finish, normally an eternity that would have left them stopped on track with an empty fuel cell if there had been more green flag running. As it was, a series of late-race yellows gave them the margin they needed.
“Today was a very good team effort,” said Sellers. “I think we were able to win today because we didn’t make mistakes. We didn’t make mistakes in the pits. We didn’t have any kind of contact with drivers. And to be honest we we got super lucky with yellows at the end. We went a long time on fuel. And we needed two yellows to get to the end and sometimes Lady Luck is on your side, and I think certainly today she was. We had a solid race car, and the at the end day it was enough.”
The run wasn’t flawless, as the brake pedal was getting long toward the end of the race, possibly due to pad transfer as Sellers speculated. Snow was in at the finish, and right away he knew there was an issue.
“I was hearing from Brian and Corey that the brakes weren’t great and for me the the last time I had been in the car, it was fine,” Snow said. “If it is an issue, I’m gonna be the one to be in to the end, so I’ll figure it out then. It was fine my last stint, I didn’t notice anything. Brakes are something where you can kind of get used to them, so our pedal was feeling a little bit longer. And if you’re in a the car when it starts to happen, you don’t notice it, you just get used to it. So then I was out for two hours. When I got back in, it was really bad. I actually noticed that before even leaving the pit lane. But the yellows helped and everything. Still stopped fine, it was just a long pedal so it’s kind of a mental game.”
Fortunately for both the brakes issue and the fuel, there wasn’t a lot of green flag running in the final two hours. Had there been, the squad in the No. 1 BMW might not have been standing on the top step of the podium.
“We had no option. For us if the only thing was to run as long as we could and hope for another yellow,” said Sellers. “We backed ourselves into a corner and got super fortunate with how it came out.”