Pagerey finishes 2009 Patron GT3 Challenge season with pair of podium finishes at Laguna Seca MONTEREY, Calif. - Mitch Pagerey, of Deerfield Beach, Fla., finished the 2009 Patron GT3 Challenge by Yokohama season strong with a pair of podium ...
Pagerey finishes 2009 Patron GT3 Challenge season with pair of podium finishes at Laguna Seca
MONTEREY, Calif. - Mitch Pagerey, of Deerfield Beach, Fla., finished the 2009 Patron GT3 Challenge by Yokohama season strong with a pair of podium finishes at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, part of the Monterey Sports Car Championships Presented by Patron weekend.
In the penultimate round, Pagerey started fourth (fifth overall) on the Platinum Cup grid in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing GT3 Cup. Early on, Pagerey got by Bill Sweedler and Brian Wong to move up to third (overall). At this point, Pagerey knew he had some work to do to catch front-runners Bob Faieta and Galen Bieker. Unfortunately, he could not get close enough to contend for the top two spots and finished third.
"The car felt really good," Pagerey said. "AJR engineer Phil Pierce gave me a good car. Brian Wong and I ran a very quick pace, but unfortunately, I had a huge lock up in Turn 2. After that, I was not able to gain ground on the two leaders. But, I kept my position on the podium. It felt great to have such a good finish on another track I had never been to."
"Mitch did a great job on another race track that he has never been to," Job said. "Laguna is known for being difficult for drivers there for the first time, but that did not stop Mitch. He rose to the challenge."
Unlike the previous 13 Rounds, which were 30 minute races, the season's final round was an hour and 15 minute race. Pagerey started from the outside of the second row. In front of Pagerey on the grid were the polesitter Bieker, Faieta and Wong (Gold Cup driver).
Heading into the season finale, Pagerey (163 points) was 15 points behind Bieker (178 points) in the Platinum Cup Championship point standings for third place. With Bieker on the pole and the fact that he finished second in Round 13, it seemed unlikely that Pagerey could make up the 15 point deficit needed to tie for third in the Championship. It seemed more likely that Pagerey would have to defend his fourth place Championship aspirations from a hard-charging Darrell Carlisle (155 points), who was only eight points behind Pagerey, rather than to try to knock Bieker out of third.
The bottom line was Pagerey needed to finish at least third (to score 16 points) and Bieker needed to finish 16th or lower (scoring no points) for Pagerey to finish third in the Championship.
Five laps into the race, Pagerey passed Wong for third, while Bieker continued to lead. In fact, Bieker led the first 10 laps before Faieta passed him in Turn Three to take the lead. On lap 17, Bieker pulled off track, handing second place to Pagerey. This was good news for Pagerey on two fronts.
First, Pagerey now had a legitimate shot at moving up to third in the Championship point standings (which he did). Second, and more importantly, he had only one driver to beat if he wanted to win his second race of the season. At this point, Pagerey had 28 laps to catch Faieta. Pagerey pushed hard, but unfortunately, Faieta's lead was a bit too much for Pagerey to overcome.
"I prefer longer races," Pagerey said of the season finale. "The AJR number 23 Porsche felt great. I decided to use the advice Alex [Job] gave me. I sat back in position for a few laps to let the race come to us. Imagine your first year of pro racing with Alex making the calls. It was just as simple as listening to what he told me to do.
"Eventually, we inherited second place. Bieker and Sweedler gave it to me and, in the process, we secured third place in the Championship. It was a great race, and an even greater season. I owe it all to Alex Job and his crew, Porsche Motorsports, Yokohama Tires and the Patron spirits company."
"We got some help from Bieker," Job said. "Mitch finished second in race two, which allowed him to finish third in the championship. Mitch did what he needed to do to be in a position to get the results. Mitch did a great job and made me proud."
This season, Pagerey had one win, seven podiums, 11 top-fives, 12 top-10 finishes and two poles. He finished third in the Patron GT3 Challenge Platinum Cup Championship point standings. Faieta won with 268 points, followed by Martin Snow (220), Pagerey (181), Bieker (178), and Carlisle (167).