Wright Motorsports’ Drivers Finish First Through Fourth Last Friday And Win Both Classes on Saturday
BATAVIA, Ohio, May 18 — Many team owners never have the kind of results that John Wright of Wright Motorsports had in last Friday’s IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohoma race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Salinas, Calif.
His Batavia, Ohio-based team not only fielded the Porsche that won, but it also prepared the Porsches that finished second, third and fourth.
A single team fielding the top-four finishers in a race is not unprecedented, but it is rare.
A very informal straw poll of 30 racing experts came up with only three other times this has occurred: IndyCar’s Andretti-Green Racing in 2005 in St. Petersburg, Fla.; Team PTG in 2003 in a SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT race at Infineon Raceway; and the factory Audi team this year in a World Endurance Championship race in Spa, Belgium.
There may have been others, but it’s definitely uncommon.
Wright had another driver on the podium on Friday too, as another one of his Porsches finished second in the Gold Cup division. A sixth one was in line for a third or fourth-place finish in that class but fell to ninth at the checkered in the race, which attracted 28 entrants.
Friday’s race was the first half of a doubleheader. Wright Motorsports also finished first and second in Saturday’s race, as well as fourth and sixth overall. One of its two Gold Cup cars won that division on Saturday, and the other one was fifth in that class.
Wright isn’t the only one who will always remember Friday’s race. It marked the first victory ever for 21-year-old Sean Johnston of Mt. Shasta, Calif., who took the checkered flag in a Wright Motorsports Porsche sponsored by Driscoll’s Berries 0.792 of a second before his teammate, Madison Snow, crossed the start/finish line after 27 laps of competition. Snow, 16, of Lehi, Utah, was the BBS pole award winner and he led the first seven laps in his Universal Industrial Sales Porsche before Johnston got by him. Bryce Miller got the lead from Snow at the green but didn’t lead a lap because he went off course in Turn 6 shortly thereafter.
A little further back two other Wright Motorsports cars driven by Fernando Peña of Minneapolis and Kasey Kuhlman of Cincinnati were locked in another battle. Peña finished third in a Porsche sponsored by Colours, Inc., while Kuhlman came in fourth in the No. 15 sponsored by Kuhlsport and the Motorsports Country Club of Cincinnati. He was just 0.381 of a second behind Peña at the checkered. Peña started fourth and Kuhlman started sixth.
Madison Snow’s mother, Melanie Snow of Pleasant Grove, Utah, won the BBS pole award for the Gold Cup class for Friday’s race with her Universal Industrial Sales No. 56, but Angel Benitez Jr. passed her early in the race and she had to settle for second. A sixth Wright Motorsports driver, Mitch Landry of Lake Charles, La., ran in third or fourth place in class most of the race but ended up ninth at the end with his Porsche, which is sponsored by VersaCrane.
Madison Snow won the BBS pole award for Saturday’s race too, as the starting line-up was determined by each driver’s fastest race lap on Friday. Johnston was just 0.062 of a second slower, and they both set their fastest laps on lap 25.
Snow stayed in front for all 26 laps of Saturday’s race, despite a restart on lap 25 which gave Johnston one more shot by him. Miller finished third on Saturday but Peña was fourth. Sloan Urry and Kuhlman rounded out the top six.
Melanie Snow won the Gold Cup honors to give the Snow family two victories in the same race. Landry had a good race too and finished a solid fifth in the class, despite being involved in a tussle that brought out a late-race yellow to retrieve the car of Wesley Hoaglund. The caution lasted from laps 23 through 24 and the restart occurred on the white-flag lap, but the Snow family was up to all challenges.
Johnston posted the fastest lap of Saturday’s race on lap 8 by 0.031 of a second over Madison Snow’s fastest race lap on lap 6.
Johnston now leads Peña and Madison Snow in the overall Platinum Cup point standings, while Melanie Snow is just two points out of second in Gold Cup.
The series’ next event is June 8-10 as part of the Grand Prix de Canada at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal. The complete schedule can be found on the series’ Web site at imsachallenge.com.