Natalie Decker Wraps Up “Double-Decker” Weekend With 9th Place Finish in Sebring

Written by Adrian Beecher

Natalie Decker took home a 9th place finish on Sunday, March 3rd at Sebring International Raceway in the Trans Am Road America season opener. As if running on limited sleep due to her truck race in Vegas Friday wasn’t enough, she also had to overcome some mechanical issues midway through the race.

Decker started in 14th position in her No. 4 N29 Capitol Partners LLC Chevrolet Corvette and was able to move up through the field early on. Her best lap came just ahead of the midway point on lap 12. She ran a 02:08.155 lap, just 4.896-seconds off the leaders best time.

After a rather smooth start for Decker, things got interesting as they reached the halfway point. She lost full use of her brakes and had to rely on her driving coach, Mike Skeen, to talk her through the rest of the race.

“When we were halfway through our race, we lost our brakes.” said Decker, “So that made it difficult, but I have a really good driver coach that talked me through it.”

The brakes weren’t fully gone, but they were certainly causing a shift in how she had to drive.

“They were there a little bit, but they would go away. So the braking point into the corner, I would have them, they would be there, and then they would just slowly go to the floor, so I sort of had brakes but not nearly what I should have.” explained Decker.

As Decker began to lose ground on the leaders, dropping more than 55 seconds behind, a caution came out on lap 17. This slowed the field, and brought the pack together again. It also gave a chance for Decker’s brakes to cool down.

“The caution really helped cool down the brakes. I thought that would help, which it did a little. But I have a really good driver coach and he talked me through how to drive different and what I needed to do.” said Decker of Skeen, “It took me a couple of laps to figure it out, but as soon as I figured it out, we could maintain our spot and get a good finish.”

The field went back green on lap 22 and she was able to maintain her positioning with th help from Skeen. In fact on lap 24, with only minutes left in the 75 minute race, Decker made a pass into the 9th position.

She maintained that spot as the race came to a close with a 9th place finish. It marked her 4th career Tran Am Series start, her 2nd best finish, with the best being an 8th place finish in Daytona last November.

Now as mentioned before, losing her brakes in the Trans Am race wasn’t the only challenge that Decker was able to overcome in the weekend. She had to balance two races, coming from Vegas on Friday night, then flying over 2,000 miles across the country to Sebring on Saturday morning,.

“The hard part was they were completely on opposite sides, one was on the west coast and one was on the east coast. So that was the difficult part just to have enough energy for the second race.” says Decker, “But we did a good job of making sure I would feel good and get the rest I needed before the second race.”

Though a challenge it was, Decker embraces the challenges as she pushes herself to get to the next level. When asked if we could expect to see more “Double-Decker” weekends like this. She answered, exuberantly, but simply, with no hesitation.

“You never know!”

However, now she turns her focus to going overseas on March 19th for the W-Series. While there she will compete with 28 other females for a spot in the 18 car field of a new F3 racing series. The series involves 6 races that run from May until August. More to come on her preparation for the trip soon.

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