Lites class shared the track with TUDOR Championship PC cars
Mikhail Goikhberg (in photo) expanded his championship lead in the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda series after winning Round 4 and finishing second in Round 3 on Saturday, June 7 at Kansas Speedway.
Goikhberg, from North Vancouver, British Columbia, has won three of the four races this season in the No. 10 JDC Motorsports car. He swept the season-opening rounds in March at Sebring International Raceway and leads the standings with 78 points.
"Overall, I'm happy with how the weekend went," Goikhberg said. "We were a corner away from winning the first race, won the second race. I'm very happy with the car, very proud of JDC, and now all of our thoughts are on Watkins Glen."
Tony Bullock and Craig Duerson shared the podium with Goikhberg after both races on the six-turn, 2.37-mile circuit at Kansas that includes nearly the entire 1.5-mile oval.
Bullock, from Las Vegas, earned his first career victory in the series in Round 3 in the No. 12 ONE Motorsports car, edging Goikhberg by .153 of a second after passing him on the final lap. Bullock climbed to third in Round 4 when Enzo Potolicchio suffered a mechanical problem on the final lap while running third in the No. 4 8Star Motorsports car.
Duerson, from Gulfport, Mississippi, continued his perfect podium record for the season by finishing third in Round 3 and second in Round 4 in the No. 27 Performance Tech Motorsports entry. He was the leading Masters (age 40 and over) finisher in both races.
This was a unique event because Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda cars shared the track with another category for the first time during both rounds, competing alongside the faster Prototype Challenge (PC) class from the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
Duerson and Goikhberg engaged in a tight race for the lead in Round 4 after Duerson's lead evaporated during a full-course caution period due to a mechanical failure in the rear of the No. 39 Performance Tech Motorsports car driven by Duerson's son Hayden Duerson.
Goikhberg pulled from 1.2 seconds behind Duerson to just two-tenths of a second behind in the closing laps and dove under Duerson in Turn 1 to take the lead for good with five minutes remaining in the 45-minute race.
"It was a hard race," Goikhberg said. "I didn't have a very good start. I got shuffled back to fifth or sixth. So we slowly worked our way back up and then the yellow came out, and that gave us a chance to fight for the lead."
Said Duerson: "I led the majority of the race. If it had not been for the yellow, the full-course yellow, I would have won. These things happen. Good race."
Round 4 Masters Podium: Don Yount, Craig Duerson, John Falb
John Falb, from Las Vegas, was the second-finishing Masters driver in the No. 77 ONE Motorsports entry after the team thrashed to change engines in his car between rounds. Don Yount, from Dallas, finished third among Masters competitors in the No. 28 Yount Motorsports car.
In the first race, Bullock earned his first career Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda victory in his third career start.
The victory was the first in the series for Las Vegas-based ONE Motorsports, which climbed to Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda this season after winning races and championships in SCCA and Radical competition as Factory48 Motorsports.
"I know going into the last lap trailing Mikhail, he had me in the infield," Bullock said. "He just had the speed. But if I could just stay with him to the last turn onto the oval, if I was there I could take advantage of the draft, and I was able to. I was able to just sling-shot around to the outside and get a nose out in front of him and stay ahead for the victory. This is the first time I've done something like this. I'm loving it."
The final-lap pass for victory capped an intense, lead-swapping, slipstreaming battle between Bullock, Goikhberg and pole sitter Duerson over the closing three laps. Duerson ended up third, .712 of a second behind Bullock.
Bullock, who started fifth, emerged as a contender for victory when he passed Goikhberg for second with four minutes to go in the 45-minute race.
Round 3 Masters Podium: Don Yount, Craig Duerson, Richard Fant
Masters (age 40 and over) competitors produced a strong performance in Round 3, occupying third through seventh place. Duerson finished third, Richard Fant fourth in the No. 44 Ferrari of Houston entry, Don Yount fifth in the No. 28 Yount Motorsports entry, Lamont Harris sixth in the No. 65 8Star Motorsports entry and Jon Brownson seventh in the No. 34 Performance Tech Motorsports Élan
DP02 chassis powered by a Mazda engine and racing on Cooper Tires.
Rounds 5 and 6 of the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda will take place June 27-28 at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York.
For live updates on all the action, follow @IMSALive on Twitter. For more information about Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda, visit www.imsa.com, follow hashtag #CTPL @IMSA on Twitter or IMSA on Facebook.
ROUND 3 POST-RACE QUOTES:
TONY BULLOCK (No. 12 ONE Motorsports, winner): "The strategy was to stay out of all that chaos. We just tried to run as clean of race as possible. When we saw guys going deep into the turns, the strategy was to just try to get the car turned and just rotate it early so if there was a crash in front of us, I had time to maneuver around it. That strategy just seemed to work repeatedly as cars were making contact. I know going into the last lap trailing Mikhail (Goikhberg), he had me in the infield. He just had the speed. But if I could just stay with him to the last turn onto the oval, if I was there I could take advantage of the draft, and I was able to. I was able to just sling-shot around to the outside and get a nose out in front of him and stay ahead for the victory. This is the first time I've done something like this. I don't hate it right now. I'm loving it."
MIKHAIL GOIKHBERG (No. 10 JDC Motorsports, second): "I thought I had it. Exiting corner 6, I thought I had the race wrapped up, but I got drafted on the last straightaway section and unfortunately finished second. However, considering where we started and how our qualifying session went, I'm fairly happy with the result. I'm happy to extend the championship lead. I thought the team and myself performed fairly well, given what we had to work with." (About racing with PC cars): "It was great. This is a developmental series, so I'm happy that we got a chance to drive in a multi-class field that hopefully will prepare us for whatever we do after Prototype Lites, be it the TUDOR series or another multi-class series. I thought that was a very good experience dealing with them."
CRAIG DUERSON (No. 27 Performance Tech Motorsports, third, first in Masters): "My driving coach says I'm too kind. I'm not an ass. He said I need to be an ass on the track. So that's my goal in race two. I had been leading, but I hit debris on the track so I lost my front headlight and lost some of aero on the car. In general, it was good having the PC cars and us together. Them passing us wasn't a problem, but sometimes we would catch them and that would slow us down a little bit. But overall it was great having the two series run together. I was happy with my car. Performance Tech did a really good job. I just need to be more of an ass."
RICHARD FANT (No. 44 Ferrari of Houston Racing, second in Masters): "I got hit in Turn 2 and spun on the opening lap. So considering that, I'm very happy with P4 (overall). Strategy was just to stay consistent, drive to get your lap times, and I luckily got a couple yellow flags and I got up there and just drove well. I had really good lap times. I like the PC cars being out there with us. You get a little bit of draft of them, so yes, I like the PC cars out there."
DON YOUNT (No. 28 Yount Motorsports, third in Masters): "We started last because we didn't get to qualify. I followed (Richard) Fant through the crowd, and then I think he ended up fourth overall and us fifth. It was a lot of fun. With having to put the car back together last night and starting where we were, it was more than worth it. It was a ton of fun."
ROUND 4 POST-RACE QUOTES:
MIKHAIL GOIKHBERG (No. 10 JDC Motorsports, winner): "It was a hard race. I didn't have a very good start. I got shuffled back to fifth or sixth. So we slowly worked our way back up and then the yellow came out, and that gave us a chance to fight for the lead. Fought with Craig (Duerson) all race long and didn't find a good pass on him. And finally, with four or five laps to go, I was able to pull it off. Overall, I'm happy with how the weekend went. We were a corner away from winning the first race, won the second race. I'm very happy with the car, very proud of JDC, and now all of our thoughts are on Watkins Glen."
CRAIG DUERSON (No. 27 Performance Tech Motorsports, second, first in Masters): "Can't say enough about Performance Tech, putting a good car underneath me. I led the majority of the race. If it had not been for the yellow, the full-course yellow, I would have won. These things happen. Good race. It's really a lot of NASCAR banging going on out there that I'm not used to, but I'm here to win, too, so I'll do what needs to be done."
TONY BULLOCK (No. 12 ONE Motorsports, third): "I'll take it. I'm just as excited about it (as win in Round 3). It was a great race. A lot of rubbing. It was all clean. It was super exciting to be under the lights. It definitely brought a different dynamic to it. You definitely had to kind of re-find your markers. But it was an exciting race. I'm really proud to be a part of the series and looking forward to the rest of the season."
JOHN FALB (No. 77 ONE Motorsports, second in Masters): "We had our fair share of car issues this weekend, and the boys took out the last lump and put another one in that we had already used that we thought wasn't going to make it, but we got her fired up and out on the track, and she ran pretty good. Got banged up pretty good into Turn 1 and closed off the tailpipe a little bit, kind of like the old banana in the tailpipe. But we were able to keep her going and get on the podium in the Masters class. I'm really happy about that."
DON YOUNT (No. 28 Yount Motorsports, third in Masters): "The team gave me a good car, especially after the damage we had yesterday. It ran great. I like this place. It was a lot of fun. I do enjoy the roval. We have Texas Motor Speedway close to the house, and it has a lot of similarities. So I've gone out there and practiced a few times, so I think that gave me a little edge. It was a lot of fun."