MILLS WINS WILD GT3 CUP CHALLENGE BY YOKOHAMA RACE
Opening Sebring Weekend Good to Benitez, Jr. in Gold Cup
Sebring, Fla., March 15, 2012 – It’s fitting for Michael Mills that he drives for Effort Racing in the the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama Series, because his win Friday at Sebring (Fla.) International Speedway was a result of an impressive effort behind the steering wheel.
Mills, from Angelton, Texas, started on the pole for the 17-lap race that was a lead-in event to the 60th Anniversary of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida. At the drop of the green flag, he was immediately challenged.
Pena, form Minneapolis, Minn., started third but exploded past Mills in his Wright Motorsports' 911 on the start to lead the first 10 laps. Mills fell in behind Pena and pressured his rival for the next 10 laps. Mills made the winning pass on Lap 11 but still received challenges from Pena late into the race.
Mills beat Pena to the line by just 1.480 seconds.
“Racing against Fernando (Pena) is always a lot of fun,” said Mills. “He’s a tough competitor. He’s very fair, and he’s a gentleman all the way through. I can get next to him and not have to worry about contact. I hope it can be like that all year long.”
Following Pena across the stripe to round out the top-five were Pena’s Wright Motorsports’ teammate Sean Johnston, Kelly-Moss Motorsports’ Tim McKenzie and Wright Motorsport’s Kasey Kuhlman.
Benitez, Jr., from Venezuela, was the highest-finishing Gold Cup class driver in both GTE Cup Challenge races this weekend. He finished 14th overall in the 34-car field Friday to take the Gold Cup victory. David Calvert-Jones, from Los Angeles, followed Benitez for a second-place finish in the Gold Cup class and 15th overall.
The Yokohama Hard Charger Award winner went to TruSpeed Motorsports’ Sloan Urry, from Park City, Utah. Urry advanced the most positions in the 34-car field by starting 12th and finished 6th.
The next two GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama races are Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, April 29 at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah
Michael Mills, Effort Racing (1st Platinum Cup/Overall)
“Racing against Fernando (Pena) is always a lot of fun. He’s a tough competitor. He’s very fair, and he’s a gentleman all the way through. I can get next to him and not have to worry about contact. I hope it can be like that all year long. I’ve got to thank Effort Racing. We come here to win and we did today. Turn one was a little crazy. Starting on pole, I figured I’d just roll through, but Fernando just killed me! I don’t know where he came from. He must have started in first (gear). We’re trying to figure that out. I know he’s been doing this a long time. He’s been in a Platinum car a long time. I’ll give him props for that. But we got him back, so it’s ok. I’ve got a great coach. Jorg Bergmeister is coaching me this year and has really helped me with strategy and things like that. He’s an amazing guy and an amazing coach and has given me great information.”
Fernando Pena, Wright Motorsports (2nd Platinum Cup/Overall)
“It probably looked more complicated than it was. On the start, before I realized it, I found myself very close to the wall. At that point my job was to keep the car inside of him (Michael Mills) and just drive it. I want to take this chance to acknowledge Wright Motorsports and the cars they have given us. We have two out of the three cars on the podium and that speaks to the talent and knowledge of the team. They’ve been unbelievable this weekend.”
Sean Johnston, Wright Motorsports (3rd Platinum Cup/Overall)
“(Tim) McKenzie made a small mistake, and I was able to get alongside him going into 17. It was crazy. He came right around the outside, and we were both skidding towards the barrier. It was absolutely crazy. I couldn’t have imagined a situation like that in just my second race. I’m learning something every single lap I’m driving one of these cars. He (McKenzie) was a great teacher, and I feel lucky that I was able to take advantage of the situation and be where I am today. I want to take this chance to acknowledge Wright Motorsports and the cars they have given us. We have two out of the three cars on the podium and that speaks to the talent and knowledge of the team. They’ve been unbelievable this weekend.”
Angel Benitez, Jr., Ansa Motorsports (1st Gold Cup/15th Overall)
“It was a pretty fun race. It was hard actually; it wasn’t easy. They are all really good drivers, and they were catching me at the end. I tried to put as many Platinum cars between me as I could, and in the end it paid off. We had a good weekend. Everyone should be happy because we didn’t crash the car! We’re here on the podium, and we’re more than happy to win two races on the first weekend in a Porsche or in a GT car. I have to say ‘Thank you,’ to my family, my girlfriend, my team, and to the whole series.”
IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama
The IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama is one of three official Development Series sanctioned by the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA). It is also the largest one-make series in North America. The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama produces intense, exciting competition for semi-professional drivers alongside some of the most promising career-minded GT drivers in one of the world’s most successful and iconic race cars, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, and on some of North America’s most hallowed road racing circuits.
To learn more about the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama, visit imsachallenge.com on the Web, http://www.facebook.com/gt3cupchallenge on Facebook and @GT3Challenge on Twitter.
Yokokama Tire Corporation
Yokohama Tire Corporation is the North American manufacturing and marketing arm of Tokyo, Japan-based The Yokohama Rubber Co., Ltd., a global manufacturing and sales company of premium tires since 1917. Servicing a network of more than 4,500 points of sale in the U.S., Yokohama Tire Corporation is a leader in technology and innovation. The company’s complete product line includes the all-new AVID® Ascend™ – the first mass-market tire using Yokohama’s breakthrough orange oil technology – as well as tires for high-performance, light truck, passenger car, commercial truck and bus, and off-the-road mining and construction applications. For more information on Yokohama’s extensive product line, visit http://www.yokohamatire.com
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