IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama Race 2 Report
Utah Grand Prix
Sean Johnston gave pole-sitter and hometown favorite Madison Snow a run for his money at the end of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama series second race in the Utah Grand Prix, but he came up half a second short of stopping Snow from collecting his second victory of the weekend.
Snow led from green to checkered flag in today's race after his Snow Racing/Wright Motorsports car paced the field for all but one on-track session during the Utah Grand Prix weekend.
"I got going after the green flag and tried to maintain a good speed," Snow said. "In yesterday’s race my tires wore off by the end of the race, so I was focused on conserving them today. Sean was closing at the end but I thought I had the pace to keep the lead. We collected a lot of points this weekend which is great for our season."
Johnston was disappointed he couldn't catch his teammate but viewed the weekend as an overall success.
"That last lap was extremely close," Johnston said. "I conserved my tires the whole race knowing that Madison’s would probably be running off at the end. I got close but not close enough. Wright Motorsports gave me a great car. The handling was perfect the entire race and I’m happy with the result."
D. Bryce Miller claimed third position. Driving for GMG Racing, Miller ran close to Snow and Johnston until he spun in turn seven, also known as "Witchcraft." The 21-year-old driver was able to continue on and maintain third place, but fell over 18 seconds behind the leaders after the incident.
"I was coming through Witchcraft (turn 7) and it just got away from me," Miller said. "It was a matter of seconds and the car was coming around on me. The two leaders drove a fantastic race and I was sticking with them for awhile until my mishap. I went into cruise control after that and tried to conserve third. I’m happy to get another podium and glad to take solid points home."
After picking up four positions at the start of the race, Fernando Pena came out on top of a heated battle for fourth position with Sloan Urry. Utah-native Urry, driving for TruSpeed Motorsports, settled for fifth position.
While there were no major incidents in the race, there were a few minor spins. Kasey Kuhlman and John Ellis of Wright Motorsports, and Seth Davidow of Topp Racing all spun at various points of the race but were able to continue on quickly with only a local yellow flag.
Angel Benitez, Jr. drove his Ansa Motorsports machine to victory in the Gold Class division of the race. This was only Benitez, Jr.'s second event in a Porsche GT3 Cup car.
Melanie Snow, mother of Platinum Cup winner Madison, joined Benitez Jr. on the class podium along with Fred Poordad.
"My car was awesome," Benitez, Jr. said. "This was my first time here at the track, and only my second time in a Porsche. We had a problem with fuel in yesterday’s race. We led the entire race in our class and then ran out of fuel on the last lap. We made sure we had enough fuel today! The race was pretty clean and we finished where we wanted to."
Wesley Hoaglund was a late entry today, starting 25th and finishing 19th overall, which earned him the Yokohama Hard Charger Award.
"I was a last-minute entrant this morning and I started all the way in the back," Hoaglund said. "I got by four or five guys and used my tires up, so unfortunately I didn’t have anything left to chase down the podium guys. I was happy to finish fourth in the Gold Class though and it was a lot of fun."
The IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama series returns to action at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca May 10-12.