GT3: Utah preview

DOUBLE EVENT WEEKEND AT MILLER MOTORSPORTS PARK ON TAP FOR IMSA GT3 CUP CHALLENGE PRESENTED BY MICHELIN Following a two-month break since the first race of 2007 at Sebring, the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge presented by Michelin makes its second ...

DOUBLE EVENT WEEKEND AT MILLER MOTORSPORTS PARK ON TAP FOR IMSA GT3 CUP CHALLENGE PRESENTED BY MICHELIN

Following a two-month break since the first race of 2007 at Sebring, the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge presented by Michelin makes its second straight appearance at Miller Motorsports Park with a field of more than 40 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, the largest single-make field in any form of major North American motorsports.

The race weekend will feature an historic first for the three-year-old series. The Utah Grand Prix will see the drivers of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge presented by Michelin compete in two races, each of them 30 minutes. The first is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. MT on Friday, May 16 with the second set for 3:25 p.m. on Saturday

Qualifying for the first race is at 12:30 p.m. Friday afternoon. The starting grid for the second race will be based on fastest laps from the first race.

"The two-race weekends are going to be fantastic, especially at Miller Motorsports Park," said CiraSport Racing's Steve Valentinetti. "The track is fantastic, the facilities are fantastic.

"It's a double-edged sword," he added. "You can make up a lot of ground if you have a bad first day. But you also have to be even more consistent when you're running for the championship. You have to drive smart for the entire season and not race like it's the last lap of the season. It'll be exciting, no doubt."

Miller Motorsports Park is the longest circuit on which the series will compete. At 4.5 miles and featuring 24 turns, the track gives drivers little opportunity to catch their breath - save for the 3,500-foot frontstretch.

"The biggest challenge is doing a full lap well for qualifying," said Darrell Carlisle, who tested the No. 9 Comprent Motorsports Porsche at the track in April. "The track is so long and has so many corners that it's easy to make a mistake in a corner or two and all of a sudden your lap isn't what it could be. It's not like an 11-turn track where you can start laps over quickly. It's hard to put a good, full lap together."

The season's first race for the series was a rain-plagued, 30-minute affair at Sebring that saw the field complete just eight laps. Newcomer Charles Scardina won with a pass on the last lap and beat Bryce Miller to the finish line by 1.212 seconds.

Last year at Miller Motorsports Park, Shawn Price beat Miller to the checkered flag by just 0.83 seconds.

"It's spectacular," Carlisle said. "Since last year, they have changed some of the runoff areas. There are some paved areas that are a lot more forgiving. The track is unbelievable and maintained to perfection. The facilities themselves are the best I've ever seen."

-credit: imsa

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Series IMSA Others
Drivers Shawn Price , Darrell Carlisle , Steve Valentinetti , Bryce Miller