Kasey Kuhlman and Wright Motorsports put up strong fight in the Masters Championship
Monterey, Calif., (May 11, 2013) - The IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama participants rounded out the 2013 American Le Mans Monterey presented by Patrón event with an action-packed second race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. With a cloudless sky and perfect track conditions, Madison Snow kept a clean lead from flag-to-flag after starting from the BBS Pole position. Behind him, there was never a dull moment in the field.
Snow finished 29 laps in 45:46.745 and gained nearly a four-second lead by lap five. The Lehi, Utah-native finished two full seconds ahead of his next competitor after starting from the Pole, his fourth consecutive at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. A restart on lap 18 brought the field tighter together, making Snow and Snow Racing/Wright Motorsports push for the last 12 minutes of the race.
"The start was a lot less chaotic than yesterday, so I got a good gap at the start," Snow said. "I pulled away and was trying to stay consistent and ahead of everybody which was perfect. Then later the yellow came out and that put me back a little bit. We had to restart but I was nervous that they were behind me, but I pushed really hard for a couple laps and got away."
As the name states, the Effort Racing team made a concerted effort indeed to catch Snow on the 11-turn circuit. Sloan Urry finished second in Platinum Cup, a position he held for all 29 laps. Urry ran the course in 45:49.122 with his fastest lap coming his fifth time around the track. His teammates Michael Mills and Ashley Freiberg made moves early on to keep the momentum at the front of the field. Freiberg jumped from fourth position to third in the first lap and by lap four Mills had gained two positions.
"There wasn't a dull moment the whole race," Urry said. "Madison (Snow) was really pushing it and I could see it. I was trying to keep up with him and any time I gained on him he responded immediately. He drove a great race and Effort gave me a great car to keep chasing him down lap after lap. I'm super stoked to bring home a podium finish for team Effort after the little bit of a mishap in race one."
Teammates Urry and Ashley Freiberg stuck together from the start and posted faster times on lap 13 than the leader. Freiberg held onto third position until lap 24 when Angel Benitez Jr. snuck past her.
The NGT Motorsport driver's run to the podium started on lap nine when he pushed from 10th position to eighth after jumping past Mills and his fellow NGT teammate Eduardo Cisneros. From there, Benitez Jr., continued to pick off his opponents - Colin Thompson on lap 10, Kasey Kuhlman on lap 13 and ultimately Freiberg with only five laps to go. The Venezuelan entered the race as second in the points standings and needed a podium spot after being unable to finish race one at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
"I needed this," Benitez exclaimed. "I was really fighting for second and it took me awhile to get into pace from the start of the race, and I didn't want another crash like my first race.
But after the middle of the race I got up to speed and started passing people one-by-one and we got a podium! We started 10th and I'll take third. I am not as happy as I should be. So I am going to just keep working."
In the Gold Cup, Michael Levitas of TPC Racing claimed his second victory of the weekend after gaining four spots by lap seven, which earned him the Yokohama Hard Charger Award as well.
"Wow, what a race," Levitas said. "I really had fun out there. My teammate David Williams had me pulling double duty. He really pushed me to do better. It was a long race. We had a blast. Very exciting, very fun, we had a great time."
The course only saw one full caution after David Williams had a quick spin and ended up in the gravel on lap 18. However, despite the misfortune, Williams still finished second in the Gold Cup.
"Not the race I wanted at all but I survived it," Williams said. "Much different track today, much greasier, just completely different race. But great experience I really enjoyed it, great facility, great venue."
The IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama Series is back in action June 28-30 at Watkins Glen International Raceway for the 100th IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama event - Sahlen's Six Hours of Glen.
The Masters Championship
Kasey Kuhlman and Wright Motorsports put up strong fight in the Masters Championship and held off NGT and Kelly-Moss Motorsports rivals Daniel Duerson and Paul Barnhart Jr., at the checkered flag to take the Platinum Cup Masters victory. But it was hard won as Duerson took the lead on lap six of the race and was trailed by Jonathan Bennett of CORE autosport and Amadeo Quiros of NGT Motorsport at that time. Kuhlman had to wind his way back through his competitors to ultimately take the win.
In Gold, it was once again the dynamic duo of TPC Racing as Levitas was able to get a gap on teammate Williams to take the top spot on the Masters podium.
Kasey Kuhlman: First Place Masters Platinum Cup
"Man I'm tired, that was a long run, that was a great race. Everybody ran really clean. I had a lot of close action in front of me and behind me. Kudos to my fellow competitors for running me clean and having a good hard day. I feel really good in the car and the car is hooked up and it's just a matter of focus for me. I just have to pay attention."
Daniel Duerson: Second Place Masters Platinum Cup
"It was a little better than I expected. Everyone settled in and gave each other room on the first start. The race was clean today, so it was more of just maintaining my tires and waiting to see what happens in front of me. A few things happened and it helped me in the points game."
Paul Barnhart Jr.: Third Place Masters Platinum Cup
"The race was very clean and I was very happy that the start was clean. The traffic wasn't as bad as yesterday. I hit the wall yesterday. I was happy to get back and keep my car in one place. I was running a strong third and then I pushed off into the gravel on the restart and lost a couple positions but I got back around those guys for third in my class so I'm pretty happy about the day, car worked great."