It speaks volumes to the internal expectations of Julia Landauer that she led her first career NASCAR Pinty’s Series lap on Sunday in the APC 200 at Jukasa Motor Speedway and left southern Ontario disappointed.
It speaks even louder that she routinely raced alongside teammates DJ Kennington and Andrew Ranger on Sunday, looking every bit their equal, and again left disappointed.
But that was exactly the sentiment on Sunday afternoon following Landauer’s first Pinty’s Series race of the season with DJK Racing.
The 27-year-old made a statement that she could race with Canada’s elite and was denied by several logistical hurdles and some misfortune in the closing laps.
Landauer qualified sixth for the rain-delayed second race of the season, and first oval, but quickly found herself running third behind teammates DJ Kennington and Andrew Ranger. She got around Ranger on Lap 30 and started to pressure Kennington for the lead by Lap 65.
That’s when the effort faced its first hurdle.
DJK Racing only had two pit crews and the two full-time drivers received priority. That means the pit stops were staggered, Landauer having to essentially share a pit stall with her teammates, but only after they had completed their stops.
Landauer led her first lap on Lap 69 when she stayed out from P2 as her teammates hit pit road, and immediately sacrificed the position on Lap 70 for her own pit stop, sapping her track position as a result.
And yet, she raced her way back to the front time-after-time on Sunday, routinely finding herself inside the top-five.
Her race ended when she crashed out in Turn 1 with five laps to go. The handling of her car completely went away after slapping the wall following contact with Pete Shepherd III earlier in the green flag run.
But she was only in the position because she kept losing track position on pit road.
“Obviously, they have to do what’s best overall for the team,” Landauer told Short Track Scene after the race. “We knew that going in. I do wish we had tried a different tire strategy.
“Coming back again for fuel put us further back than I would have liked. I had never driven on two older tires and two new tires before. It was all a learning curve and there are little things I would have liked to have done differently. And they are receptive to my ideas. It was not the most ideal situation with the pit stops, but I can’t complain about it at all.”
Even though the race ended with a damaged car, Landauer believes she has much to celebrate. She raced with the veteran elite of the division and believes she earned the respect of her teammates and fellow competitors.
Landauer is a former Motor Mile Limited Late Model track champion and is generally used to winning races. The past two seasons have challenged her to get back to superior equipment in a high-profile series.
She believes the Pinty’s Series with DJKR just might provide her that chance.
“I just have a really strong desire to get back to victory lane,” Landauer said. “I’ve won track championships and races in numerous classes. It’s fun to win. There’s always pressure to win. I want to show that in 17 years of racing, that I have a lot to offer. I want to keep going.”
The rest of her Pinty’s Series schedule currently includes the streets of Toronto, Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the championship race at Jukasa.
“This was a really big confident boost to go to this series — a first-time track and with a new team,” she said. “We showed that we can run up front with the big boys. I think that showed the team that the work they put in is going to show results.
“So, I think overall, we made a point that we can fine-tune, that I can give feedback for the car to make it better. We put on an exciting show for people. I wish we had another oval next. We have two road courses coming up which will be a new challenge. A street course. But I know I can run up there now.”