Angel Benitez Jr. earns monumental victory in Watkins Glen, New York.
Watkins Glen, N.Y., (June 29, 2013) - The 28 IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama drivers demonstrated sophistication and style, two words that define the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, in the 100th GT3 Cup race at Watkins Glen International. Participants in the historic competition represented the sleek and smooth Porsche image with a caution-free 45-minute sprint.
Cars lined up on a dry track at the starting grid and took some time to adjust to lack of moisture. The curbs were still wet at the start of the race due to an earlier downpour, but the 3.4-mile, 11-turn circuit dried off quickly.
The field experienced three lead changes as Madison Snow, Ashley Freiberg and Angel Benitez Jr., exchanged positions. The trio pulled away early on as Snow led from the green flag until Lap 5 when EFFORT Racing's Freiberg took over. The 21-year-old Freiberg led for eight laps with pressure from Benitez, who ultimately took the lead on Lap 14 and held on until the checkered flag waved.
Benitez and NGT Motorsport were elated to represent Porsche in the 100th race at the storied Watkins Glen International.
"Thank you to the weather, thank you to God, to NGT Motorsport and to everyone here at IMSA," Benitez Jr. said. "It was a really hard race. We never stopped and were just pushing and pushing until the end. We're happy to win the 100th race for Porsche."
Benitez posted his fastest time on Lap 22 of 24. The 1:54.593 mark was enough to make the historic moment even more monumental with a new race lap record.
After being passed by Benitez with 18 minutes remaining, Freiberg held tight to the second place position and pulled away from third-place finisher Snow. Nine tenths of a second separated Benitez and Freiberg at the finish, but a 24-second gap was built between the top two and the rest of the drivers.
"It took me awhile to figure out how to get around Madison (Snow) in the beginning and then I had Angel (Benitez Jr.) behind me putting pressure," Freiberg said. "Eventually I found a way and got a bit of a gap but the traffic was rough. Angel (Benitez Jr.) caught up to me pretty fast and we were racing clean, but definitely bumping and rubbing. He'd pass me and I'd pass him. It was a lot of fun."
Snow with Snow Racing/Wright Motorsports found the podium for the fourth time this season with a third-place finish. The 17-year-old's times got faster as the race went on, turning his fastest clip on Lap 19 of 24, but spent the first few laps adjusting to a dry circuit.
"The first couple laps were great until I got passed by Ashley (Freiberg) and once (Angel) Benitez Jr. passed me they left me and I was still trying to figure out what the track was like in the dry," Snow said. "But I got third and that's good for the points standings."
Yokohama Hard Charger Award Winner Michael Mills
Less then one second separated fourth through sixth place as Miles Maroney and Colin Thompson battled with Michael Mills for the entire second half of the race. Mills with EFFORT Racing ultimately took the fourth-place finish and turned his fastest time on Lap 20. The EFFORT Racing driver climbed an incredible eight positions throughout the race, starting at 12th. His passing skills led to ownership of the Yokohama Hard Charger Award for the 100th race.
Maroney with TruSpeed Motorsports and Thompson of Thompson Racing both turned their quickest laps on the final time around the track, fighting until the bitter end.
Michael Levitas didn't make the top step of the podium for the first time this season, and instead it was MGM Racing's John Goetz who finished first in the Gold Cup category. The 100th race was his first win of the season and he placed 20th overall.
"It was a little dicey at the start but I was fortunate enough to get through it," Goetz said. "I had some luck when the leader had a bit of car trouble, but it was a great day and a fun event."
Gold Cup Podium
Despite taking second, Levitas turned a new track record with a time of 1:59.594. David Williams, second in the Gold Cup standings, earned a third-place finish.
"We had a great car but had a bit of a fuel pump issue and just had to nurse it along and keep the engine alive but it was a great race and TPC Racing is just proud to have Porsche of Townson as their title sponsor and to pull off a second place is amazing in itself," Levitas said.
Levitas' teammate David Williams, second in the Gold Cup standings, earned a third-place finish.
The Masters Championship
After round five of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama Series, the Masters Championship has a new points leader. Wright Motorsports' Kasey Kuhlman clinched the 100th race title and slides to the top of the points standings with 83 total points. Craig Duerson is in second position overall despite reitiring early from the 100th race as a result of an incident on Lap 1.
In his first ever IMSA GT3 Cup race, David Baker and Topp Racing brought home a second-place finish. Baker worked his way up from a 15th-place starting position to 11th overall. He was joined by another Baker on the podium, John Baker of Wright Motorsports who also charged several spots, from 17th to 13th.
In the Gold Cup Masters Championship, John Goetz with MGM Racing won the 100th race and despite placing second, Levitas still holds the Gold Cup Masters lead in point swith 98 total, followed by Williams in second place with 88 points.
Kasey Kuhlman: First Place Platinum Cup Masters Championship
"We didn't have a lot of dry practice so we were a little off on the setup. In the middle of the race there was a bunch of coolant down on the track so it was all about being steady, staying on the track and not making mistakes and it worked out."
David Baker: Second Place Platinum Cup Masters Championship
"I had a blast. This was my first IMSA race ever so I'm really excited and we had a good finish."