YOUTH WINS IN A BATTLE OF THE AGES AT ROAD AMERICA
"Young Guns" Take the Platinum Podium in GT3 Cup Competition
Elkhart Lake, WI, August 18, 2012--The 14 turns at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., have largely remained unchanged since it opened in 1955. Its record books, however, were open for editing this weekend as the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama Series placed more trophies in the Road Race Showcase at the 4.048-mile circuit.
Both Sean Johnston of Wright Motorsports and Angel Benitez, Jr. from Ansa Motorsports recorded new qualifying lap records and took home the BBS Pole Awards in Platinum Cup and Gold Cup, respectively, yesterday in preparation for the first of two races this weekend. Johnston went on to post a race lap record in yesterday’s race en route to his victory in Platinum.
In Platinum Cup competition today, the ‘young guns’ would steal the show as the 21-year-old Johnston led the way by stamping yet another race lap record in the books, while holding off 16-year-old Madison Snow of Snow Racing/Wright Motorsports for the win.
“This is the kind of weekend you really want to have,” said Johnston. “Where we just come out and we are quickest in every session. That’s our goal when we show up to the racetrack and to have it happen here at Road America is just great. Our second race went really well. Very exciting first lap—three wide into turn one was a little nutty but we all came out okay on the other side. And at that point it was all about consistency. Keeping the same pace the same lap and not putting a wheel wrong and I was able to do that. We are happy for Wright Motorsports to have first and second place up on the podium today.”
Much like yesterday, Snow made several runs at Johnston for the lead, but fell short of victory and took the checkered flag second in today’s race.
“The start was kind of the same as yesterday, but I was right behind him [Sean Johnston] and a lot closer the first few laps,” said Snow. “I just kept looking for his rear bumper and kept trying to chase him down. I kept checking my mirrors but we were pulling away from everyone since we weren’t battling. On the start Bryce [Miller] tried to make it three wide into Turn 1 and it didn’t really work out. I was on the outside, but Sean and I came out just fine and that set the pace for the day.”
The Wright Motorsports juggernaut took the top three spots on the podium yesterday, but were invaded today by 20-year-old Sloan Urry from TruSpeed Motorsports who raced his way into third from his sixth-place starting position.
“It was a pretty intense battle with a lot of different cars today,” said the TruSpeed Motorsports driver. “I have been waiting for this all year. You can call it bad luck or whatever you want but unfortunately I haven’t been up here. I have never had a third place feel so amazing. I am ecstatic and can’t wait to step up on the podium. Kasey [Kuhlman] gave me a lot of heat and the same with Miles [Maroney], so they could have had me at any time. It was definitely someone’s battle to win and luckily I got it.”
Scott Tucker, competing in Gold Cup for Level 5 Motorsports, had to forgo celebrating his Prototype Lites L2-class win on the podium today, as he had to immediately run to his Porsche 911 for today’s GT3 Cup Challenge race. The swift racing he displayed in Lites carried over to GT3 Cup competition as he pushed his Gold Cup 911 to victory today.
“Angel [Benitez, Jr.] ran a great race,” said Tucker. “Getting a gap here is really tough. I was able to make a couple of moves at the start and able to get out in front and hold the position. We set the car up for a late charge, which we thought would be the case and things just went our way today.”
Yesterday’s winner, Benitez, Jr., wasn’t able to hold off Tucker for the win, but he did manage to win his race-long battle with David Calvert-Jones of Competition Motorsports and take home the second-place trophy in Gold.
“I am really happy,” exclaimed Benitez, Jr. “It was a great race and [Scott] Tucker made a good move on me. I am not unhappy about today at all. I didn’t lose the win because of me or because someone else blocked me. I was trying to catch Tucker and pass near the start of the race, but I pushed too much and in the end I just concentrated on keeping second place.”
Calvert-Jones gave his new sponsor Norton Mobile a pair of podiums this weekend with a second in yesterday’s race, followed by a third-place finish today.
“We had a great battle today Scott [Tucker], Angel [Benitez, Jr.] and myself,” said Calvert-Jones. “Scott got going and got away from us so I had a great battle with Angel all day long. It was a very exciting race. I would catch him and catch him and catch him and then I would muck up just one little corner and off he would go. But the Norton Mobile Porsche was strong thanks to Bob and the Competition Motorsports team and I am really looking forward to VIR.”
The Yokohama Hard Charger Award was issued to Franck Silah of MGM Racing, who started in 25th and improved ten positions to finish 15th overall and fourth in Gold Cup competition.
The IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama will head south next, to Virginia International Raceway for rounds 12 and 13 of the Series Championship, September 12-15.