BRASELTON, Ga., (Sept. 24, 2013) - As Madison Snow took the checkered flag in Round 14 at Circuit of the Americas (COTA), the 17-year-old clinched the 2013 IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama Platinum Cup Championship, the youngest driver to do so since its inception in 2005. Finishing second in Platinum Cup in 2012 and first in the Gold Cup in 2011, Snow will head toward the final race of the season at Petit Le Mans both relaxed and relieved that his Platinum Cup championship dreams have been realized.
The Snow Racing/Wright Motorsports driver has tallied a total of 226 points this season, 44 points out of the reach of Sloan Urry in second place. Snow earned his sixth victory in the No. 62 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry with the win at COTA on Saturday, Sept. 21, and did so in his usual fast fashion - finishing a full 23 seconds ahead of the rest of the field.
"I am lucky to have had great support throughout the entire season," Snow said. "My parents were always there and if they weren't at a race they watched timing and scoring and called to check up on me. I have to thank Wright Motorsports, Snow Racing, Universal Industrial Sales, Hertz and Yokohama and all the people that were there the entire year and made it possible to race for this series."
Snow held the points standings lead for a majority of the year, finding the podium in 12 of the 14 rounds of action. Only twice was Snow unable to make the top three, due to a minor incident at Sebring International Raceway and a flat tire at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. While Round 1 of the 2013 season did not go as planned, Snow has only gone up from there. At Sebring, Snow made minor nose-to-tail contact with Angel Benitez Jr., which forced him to retire from the race.
"All year I wanted to stay at the top but at the first race at Sebring I managed to bump (Angel) Benitez and right there I was afraid I would be chasing the championship all year long," Snow explained. "But I got lucky in a couple races where a couple other people got down in the points so I would climb back up."
Benitez Jr. turned out to be one of the frontrunners for the championship, fighting hard with Snow throughout the season. Off the track the competitors became close, most recently at the Porsche Young Driver Academy. Both drivers were invited to take part in the program at Barber Motorsports Park Sept. 14-15.
Snow and Benitez split race weekends twice this season, and their closest battle came at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Round 7. As the two drivers rounded the final corner on the front stretch, Snow came from behind to best Benitez in a photo finish, just 11 one-hundredths of a second ahead.
"I had a great time battling with Benitez all year. Mosport (Canadian Tire Motorsport Park) was a great time. He passed me in the middle of the race and I stayed right behind him and finally caught him on the last corner at the last second. It was amazing and such a thrill. And off the track I got to know him pretty well especially after the Porsche Young Driver Academy."
Snow describes this year as a "perfect" one for himself and the Snow Racing/Wright Motorsports team that has supported him all year long.
"The team was perfect all year," Snow said. "We gave it everything we could in practice to get the car where we wanted. And when it came to the race or qualifications the car was perfect for me. I was able to go and do everything I could and rip fast laps and we never had any issues with the car. Wright Motorsports put together a great car for me to drive."
Snow proved his speed right off the bat on race weekends, acquiring 10 BBS Pole Awards throughout the season, giving him an advantage by leading the field to the green. He also showed his versatility by posting three track records throughout the year. Snow's first track record came at Road America, and he followed that performance with back-to-back record establishments in the series' debut at both the Grand Prix of Baltimore and Circuit of the Americas.
"About halfway through the year I started to realize that consistency wins championships," Snow said. "And I had that at the beginning of the year luckily so that's what I was really focusing on the last couple of races. But it's so hard when race time comes if you have an incident you can easily get flustered, but you have to keep that championship in the back of your mind. Stay calm and know to make smart decisions to keep your chance in the championship rather than taking yourself out of the race."
Through rain, on street circuits and even with a fogged up windshield, nothing could fluster young Snow who performed with veteran skills throughout the first 14 rounds of the 2013 season. Now entering the final two races at Road Atlanta, the 2013 Platinum Cup champion can sit back and truly enjoy the sport of racing behind a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Car.
"Just looking at the Porsche 911, it is one of those cars that has a high class look, so to be able to drive that type of car on track is an amazing feeling," Snow said about driving the iconic vehicle.
Snow and the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama Series return to action for the season finale at Road Atlanta Oct. 16-19.
The green flag for Race One drops at 1:45 p.m. ET on Thursday, Oct. 17. The final round of action will begin Friday, Oct. 18 at 11:45 a.m. ET.
IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge