Benitez completes Sebring sweep in clean, green race

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Angel Benitez Jr. led every lap of the 45-minute race for the second straight day in the No. 05 Formula Motorsport/Avid Motorsport 911 GT3 Cup Platinum Cup car.

SEBRING, Fla. (March 14, 2014) - Angel Benitez Jr. completed his second consecutive event sweep in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA competition at Sebring International Raceway with a dominant victory Friday, March 14.

Benitez led every lap of the 45-minute race for the second straight day in the No. 05 Formula Motorsport/Avid Motorsport 911 GT3 Cup Platinum Cup car. He beat fellow young star Colin Thompson - who also finished second Thursday in the No. 14 Kelly-Moss Motorsports entry - to the line by 3.735 seconds Friday. Sloan Urry finished third in the No. 20 JDX Racing 911 GT3 Cup car.

Venezuela native Benitez won both races last year at Sebring for NGT Motorsport. This season, he moved to his family-owned Formula Motorsport/Avid Motorsport team without a single misstep, starting from the pole and staying out front for both races on the 17-turn, 3.74-mile circuit.

Colin Thompson
Colin Thompson

Photo by: Rainier Ehrhardt

"I have to thank my dad for everything," Benitez said. "It was a team effort. They did a great job with the car. We worked a lot of overtime. I think I had a lot of pressure because they try a lot and they work a lot. So I'm really happy to be here.

"I love this series. Of course, I love to race with Porsche. I think it's a nice car. You can slide the car but still control it. The Yokohama tires, the car is perfect with that grip. Thanks to everyone for their support and to IMSA for doing a great job with this series."

Despite leading every lap, Benitez maintained inch-perfect focus during the first race in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series history at Sebring without a full-course caution. Fast, clean, competition occurred all over the historic circuit for the entire round during the opening event of 2014, setting up a season of intense, high-quality racing.

Thompson, from Doylestown, Pa., climbed from seventh to second Thursday and also worked to earn his second consecutive podium spot Friday. He climbed from fourth to second in the second race during his initial weekend with the powerful Kelly-Moss Motorsports team.

Urry, from Park City, Utah, ran second behind Benitez until Thompson passed him with about 10 minutes remaining. He still held on for his first podium of the season in the No. 20 JDX Racing entry.

Kasey Kuhlman, from Cincinnati, finished fourth overall and won the Platinum Cup Masters class in the No. 15 Wright Motorsports entry.

"My job today was just to make no mistakes," Kuhlman said. "I had a top-five car yesterday and threw it away with two spins. So today was just about hitting my marks, maintaining my pace, make no mistakes and take advantage of mistakes the other ones made, and that's what I did. I feel awesome about this one."

Patrick-Otto Madsen won the Gold Cup class in the No. 99 ANSA Motorsports entry after starting from the Gold pole in both races. Madsen, from Boca Raton, Fla., rallied from a disappointing finish Thursday due to mechanical problems suffered in contact after also starting from the Gold pole.

"I had a good race today," Madsen said. "The car was excellent. ANSA Motorsports gave me a great car. The car was neutral, and I was able to push as hard as I can. Yesterday I got taken out, so I really had to rebound today and do my job. I had to stay out of trouble."

John Baker was the first Gold Cup Masters finisher in the No. 47 Wright Motorsports entry. Baker, from New York, battled Jeff Mosing of Topp Racing for the overall Gold victory Thursday when they collided on the last lap, opening the door for Bill Peluchiwski to win the class in his No. 74 Kelly-Moss Motorsports entry.

"It was cold at the start," Baker said. "Braking points were a little farther away. It took a little longer for the tires to heat up. I got through the first couple of laps. Normally there's a lot of traffic, and we settled down. I was able to work my way through and was able to make it up to P2. It got a little bit slippery at the end, but I think it was a perfect day. Great track. You've got to love Sebring."

Blair Chang, from Santa Monica, Calif., earned the Yokohama Hard Charger Award on Friday after climbing from the 32nd starting position to finish 20th in the No. 09 Competition Motorsports Gold Cup 911 GT3 Cup entry.

The next two rounds of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama will be May 3-4 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. For live updates on all the action during that event, follow @IMSALive on Twitter.

ANGEL BENITEZ JR. (Winner, No. 05 Formula Motorsport/Avid Motorsport): "I have to thank my dad for everything. It was a team effort. They did a great job with the car. We worked a lot of overtime. I think I had a lot of pressure because they try a lot and they work a lot. So I'm really happy to be here. I love this series. Of course, I love to race with Porsche. I think it's a nice car. You can slide the car but still control it. The Yokohama tires, the car is perfect with that grip. Thanks to everyone for their support and to IMSA for doing a great job with this series."

COLIN THOMPSON (Second, No. 14 Kelly-Moss Motorsports): "It was a patient race. We finished second in the end. Our cars all weekend were good in the long run. We were setting times at the end of the race that were pretty close to what we were doing at the beginning. So that shows that we just had a really well-engineered car. Sloan (Urry) and Angel (Benitez), it was such a close race with them. Sloan and I were virtually next to each other the entire time. I showed my nose going into 1, and he missed the apex. I took advantage of the opportunity, and I made the pass. From there, we were able to open up a gap."

SLOAN URRY (Third, No. 20 JDX Racing): "I just couldn't hold off Colin (Thompson) there at the end. He had more than I had at the end. JDX gave me a great car. It showed today compared to yesterday. I wish I could have given my team a little bit more, but it's always good to be on the podium at the end of the weekend. I wanted to come into this weekend and get some points. We'll add more points throughout the season - there's no doubt about it."

KASEY KUHLMAN (Fourth overall, winner, Platinum Cup Masters, No. 15 Wright Motorsports): "My job today was just to make no mistakes. I had a top-five car yesterday and threw it away with two spins. So today was just about hitting my marks, maintaining my pace, make no mistakes and take advantage of mistakes the other ones made, and that's what I did. I feel awesome about this one."

MARCO CIRONE (Seventh overall, second, Platinum Cup Masters, No. 88 Mark Motors Racing): "Today was another fabulous day. I had some incredible competition in front of me. Kasey Kuhlman and Christina (Nielsen) were in front of me for almost the whole race, and they were almost like mistake-free. It was so difficult to get by them. The race was coming to an end, and I had to try, and I just couldn't make the pass. I lost position. But, wow, those guys in front of me were so quick. Hats off to them. I'd like to thank my sponsor, Mark Motors. I wouldn't be here without them. I'd also like to thank my team and everybody at IMSA."

CHARLIE PUTMAN (Eighth overall, third, Platinum Cup Masters, No. 40 Dempsey Racing): "This was my second-ever GT3 series race, the first one being yesterday. I had a ball. A lot of guys with similar talent. There's somebody to race with whether you're a second off the pole sitter or two seconds off the pole sitter or a hundredth of a second off the pole sitter. You've got five cars out there to race with the whole time, and that's what makes it fun."

PATRICK-OTTO MADSEN (Winner, Gold Cup, No. 99 ANSA Motorsports): "I had a good race today. The car was excellent. ANSA Motorsports gave me a great car. The car was neutral, and I was able to push as hard as I can. Yesterday I got taken out, so I really had to rebound today and do my job. I had to stay out of trouble. I had a spin there, and I got scared. I pulled it in, and I was on reserve fuel, so it was a tight race. I'm really grateful for everything. The series is great, the competitors, the tires from Yokohama, everyone."

JOHN BAKER (Second, Gold Cup overall, winner, Gold Cup Masters, No. 47 Wright Motorsports): "It was cold at the start. Braking points were a little farther away. It took a little longer for the tires to heat up. I got through the first couple of laps. Normally there's a lot of traffic, and we settled down. I was able to work my way through and was able to make it up to P2. It got a little bit slippery at the end, but I think it was a perfect day. Great track. You've got to love Sebring."

JEFF MOSING (Third, Gold Cup overall, second, Gold Cup Masters, No. 01 Topp Racing): "The race was good. I'm glad we were able to run under a lot of green. It gives me time to save my tires. When we have a long race, it gives me a chance to save my tires until the end. I find a lot of these guys are using their tires up early on, and I can take advantage of it. I had John Baker in front of me pretty much the whole time. He made a great move in on me in Turn 7. We went three-wide. I let him in, fair racing. I just figured I'd take care of it at the end. I put as much pressure on him as I could the last four laps, and I still couldn't pressure him enough into a mistake. He did a great job. Hat's off to him."

FRED POORDAD (Third, Gold Cup Masters, No. 02 Competition Motorsports): "Better race today than yesterday. Competition Motorsports put a really good car under me today, and we were pretty strong. I didn't have a strong start but had a pretty strong finish. I'm looking forward to Laguna Seca."

Porsche GT3 Cup USA

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About this article
Series IMSA
Article type Race reports
Tags angel benitez jr., charlie putman, colin thompson, fred poordad, imsa, jeff mosing, john baker, kasey kuhlman, marco cirone, patrick-otto madsen, porsche, sebring, sloan urry