Estep in the Right Direction
All the ingredients for a spicy recipe of thrilling on-track action came together Friday evening for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama as they rolled off the grid for Race 1 at the Advance Auto Parts Sportscar Showdown for the only twilight race of the 2017 season at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.
Current points leader and Race 1 pole-sitter Jake Eidson in the No. 24 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry of Kelly-Moss Road and Race led the field into Turn 1 at the drop of the green flag, but he didn’t hold it for long.
Seventeen-year-old Trenton Estep of San Antonio, Texas made a deep dive into the inside of Turn 1 on Lap 1 in his JDX Racing/Hertz No. 3 entry. The daring move proved successful as he swept under Eidson and the No. 00 of Corey Fergus to take the Platinum Cup lead into Turn 2 and never looked back thereafter.
The shakeup gained Fergus and local hometown team Moorespeed the advantage over Eidson as they moved into second place in Platinum competition in front of friends and family.
A full-course caution period on Lap 3 due to contact between Phil Bloom in the No. 11 of Wright Motorsports and the No. 19 of Will Hardeman of Moorespeed packed the field back up to make an exciting restart on Lap 6.
McKay Snow in the No. 63 of Wright Motorsports started in seventh postion on the grid, but moved swiftly up through the field, ultimately landing on the podium in third place after a great pass on Eidson on Lap 9, relegating Eidson to fourth at the checkered flag.
Not to be outdone by “the kids” as Platinum Master classman Jeff Mosing referred to the top four contenders in a post-race interview, the 45-years-of-age and older Platinum competitors faced plenty of action, with Mosing, of Austin, Texas taking the top step of the Masters podium in the No. 01 of TOPP Racing/Mosing Motorcars in front of his hometown crowd.
Tom Haacker in the No. 80 of Kelly-Moss Road and Race had a great on-track battle with the No. 43 of Mark Kvamme for JDX Racing. Both drivers gained positions after the green flag, ultimately settling into 11th and 12th position with Kvamme leading after the restart. The two remained in lockstep, and Haacker eventually gained the advantage halfway through the race to take second-place podium honors with Kvamme just one step beneath.
In a spectacular run to the finish, Victor Gomez IV in the No. 25 of NGT Motorsport swept the Gold Cup victory on the very last lap over the No. 6 of David Ducote and Kelly-Moss Road and Race. The two dueled for position most of the race with Ducote leading in 14 of 19 total laps. Gomez snuck by on the restart after the early caution period, but Ducote gained it back on Lap 11 and held it until Gomez made the last-lap charge.
Fred Kaimer, also of NGT Motorsport rounded out the Gold podium in third position after gaining five positions overall throughout the race.
C.J. Wilson made his first trip to the podium after Race 1 to collect the Yokohama Hard Charger Award for advancing seven positions during the 45-minute contest.
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series ran a 20-minute qualification round on Friday morning to determine the official starting grid for the first of two 45-minute races at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.
Jake Eidson in the No. 24 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Platinum entry put down a flyer of two minutes, 10.160 seconds, barely clipping the 2:10.193 lap of Corey Fergus in his Moorespeed/US LED No. 00 GT3 Cup car.
Eidson has started every race from the pole position thus far in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA competition.
Not to be outdone, the Texas contingent continued to dominate on-track action with Moorespeed teammates Fergus and Will Hardeman collecting second- and third-place positions on the starting grid in Platinum Class. Based in Austin, Texas, Moorespeed led a number of Lone Star State competitors in the dash for starting positions. It could have been anyone’s pole to take today as the top seven Platinum Cup cars were separated by less than a second in qualifying.
Returning series veteran David Ducote made his mark in qualifying, securing the Gold Cup pole position with a lap of 2:13.596 in his No. 6 Kelly-Moss Road and Race entry. This will be the Houston, Texas-based driver’s first race in the series in 2017 competition.
Continuing with speed from yesterday’s practice, Platinum Masters driver Jeff Mosing set the quick time of the day for his class with a 2:11.854 trip around the circuit in his No. 01 TOPP Racing/Mosing Motorcars GT3 Cup car.
Race 1 Driver Quotes:
CJ Wilson – No. 33, CJ Wilson Racing – Yokohama Hard Charger
“I am always below the limit, so today’s race wasn’t really that different. I just tried to have a clean start. There was a lot of crunching, a lot of action. I ran a conservative race. On the pack up I was behind Jeff [Mosing] and I had no chance to catch him. So I let him check out and just sort of kind of drove around and tried to have a clean race. I have had a few spins by myself so I just tried to make an adjustment and drive conservatively until the end. (How were the Yokohama Tires?) “Really good. Especially with the yellow, it allowed me to keep the temperatures down so that I could really push the last 20 minutes of the race. The last two laps the visibility was getting so bad it was just a challenge, but it was kind of similar to Sebring where we had the sun in our eyes.”
Treton Estep – No. 3, JDX Racing/Hertz – Platinum Cup Winner
(On the first lap turn 1 pass) “It was really, really interesting. I was testing the inside line leaving the pits to see if there was any rubber, and actually there was. I was actually expecting [Jake] Eidson and Corey [Fergus] to defend a little bit more but they didn’t and opened the door and I was able to go down the inside and take it. The guys at JDX gave me an incredible car and I was able to do some really consistent laps with the setup they gave me and I was able to keep my lead.”
Jeff Mosing – No. 01, TOPP Racing/Mosing Motorcars – Platinum Masters Winner
“There are zero calories, so that’s my favorite kind of donut. A Yokohama donut. You don’t get fat on those. The track conditions have been changing all day. Todd [Opperman] again, just did a great job to give me a great car. It seemed like I was able to hold pace with those kids up there for most of the race. With about 15 minutes to go Eric Foss, my co-driver in Conti and my driver coach, kept buzzing in my ear, telling me to take care of the tires, but at the same time I am trying to keep up with them. I was really driving hard and I think I just didn’t have enough tire for them. Hats off to those guys. I feel bad for [Sebastian] Landy, he spun on the last lap and gave me fifth place virtually. My best finish of the season thus far in Platinum overall and I am really excited to get back up on the top step after Birmingham. Really glad to get back in the run of things.”
Victor Gomez IV – No. 25, NGT Motorsport – Gold Cup Winner
“It was fun for me, but the track conditions were very slippery. But I want to thank NGT for giving me such a great car and my family and my friends for supporting me. It was great. Really fun. [David Ducote] battled really clean, but I took the opportunity he gave me and brought it home.”
RACE 2 SUMMARY
A First for Fergus
Hard on the heels of an exciting twilight race at Circuit of The Americas on Friday evening, teams and drivers in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series switched gears and strategy to take the green flag for Race 2 in full sun and much warmer temperatures Saturday.
Corey Fergus from Columbus, Ohio representing the hometown team of Moorespeed was the first to the green flag in his No. 00 US LED/Byers Imports entry, but was overtaken by Trenton Estep in the No. 3 JDX Racing/Hertz entry on Lap 1 in nearly a repeat of his performance yesterday. Fergus retook the lead on the same lap, which was the beautiful beginning of a heated battle for the race and Platinum Cup lead on the 3.4-mile circuit as part of the Advance Auto Parts Sportscar Showdown.
The 17-year-old Estep from San Antonio, Texas challenged Fergus all the way around the circuit in his 911 GT3 Cup car, with multiple lead changes – usually within the same lap. But it was ultimately Fergus who grabbed the lead for the last time on Lap 9 and held it through the checkered flag for his first series win. It’s the second win for the Austin-based Moorespeed and this time in front of their home crowd.
A full-course caution period on Lap 3, caused by the No. 99 of Alan Metni of Kelly-Moss Road and Race spun in Turn 3 and had contact with the wall, causing the field to pack up for another suspenseful restart.
While Anthony Imperato in the No. 91 Henry Repeating Arms entry of Wright Motorsports was also involved in an intense battle with Estep, switching from third to second and back to third place before the restart gave the No. 24 of Jake Eidson and Kelly-Moss Road and Race the momentum to overtake Imperato and stake his claim on the third step of the podium in Platinum competition.
An incredible duel between McKay Snow in the Snow Racing No. 63 of Wright Motorsports and the No. 49 Forto Strong Coffee car of Sebastian Landy and Alex Job Racing lasted the duration of the race, with plenty of lead changes and clean passing. Landy ultimately overtook both competitors and settled into fourth overall, with Imperato rounding out the Top-5.
Local hero Jeff Mosing in the No. 01 TOPP Racing/Mosing Motorcars entry finished his two-race sweep with another Platinum Masters victory in front of the hometown crowd.
But the category that awards drivers 45 years of age and older for their racecraft, proved that they were certainly not lacking, as Mark Kvamme of JDX Racing made a bold move in his No. 43 car to gain four positions on the very first lap and fall into step with Mosing.
The No. 80 of Tom Haacker and Kelly-Moss Road and race steadily gained ground to hold onto his third in class position, until the No. 56 of David Baker and TOPP Racing/Apex Capital Corporation swept under both competitors on Lap 15 to seal his fate as second-place Platinum Master. Kvamme was relegated to third in class when the checkered flag dropped.
Victor Gomez IV in the No. 25 of NGT Motorsport/Mapfre faced a false start penalty at the beginning of the race and had to serve a drive-through penalty, leaving the door open for David Ducote in his No. 6 Kelly-Moss Road and Race entry to cruise to an uncontested Gold Cup Victory.
Fred Kaimer of NGT Motorsport/Race Deck and Kurt Fazekas of Kelly-Moss Road and Race rounded out the Gold podium, with Kaimer taking the Yokohama Hard Charger Award for gaining the most positions throughout the race in the Gold category. It is the tire manufacturer’s ninth consecutive season as the official tire provider and presenting sponsor of the series.
The next stop on the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series calendar is in the Northeast on June 28 – July 2 at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y. as part of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen in conjunction with the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Race 2 Driver Quotes
Fred Kaimer – No. 23, NGT Motorsport – Yokohama Hard Charger
“It’s pretty exciting. It’s hard to keep up with the Platinum cars they’re significantly torquier and higher top end. It was a good race. It was clean in battle but I had entertainment the whole race. So it was kind of fun, and I am excited to have finished second in Gold as well.”
Corey Fergus – No. 00, Moorespeed/US LED/Byers Imports – Platinum Winner
“This one meant a lot being the home race, especially for David [Moore]. He lost his dog a little bit ago, and I promised I would win one for Ranger and it means even more at home. It’s really special for the whole team. I had several supporters out here from my dealership back home in Ohio. My general manager, service manager, technician, customers and even my manager as well. We had seven people here to support us. Couldn’t be happier in front of everyone we love. That was by far the toughest race of my entire life. It was wheel-to-wheel, I think we switched positions three times on the same lap. It was absolutely incredible. Couldn’t have asked for anything more. We came out on top so I got redemption.”
Jeff Mosing – No. 01, TOPP Racing/Mosing Motorcars – Platinum Masters Winner
“Eric Foss and I had a talk after the first race and had a different strategy so we tried not to use up the rear Yokohamas as quickly as I did in the first race. I think I listened to him too well, because about three quarters in I ended up using up the front Yokohamas a bit more and did my deal with the brake bias to try and get the car balanced again, but it was just a little too late. I was able to start running [McKay] Snow down, it looked like he had used his up, and I had a good race with him. Hat’s off to him for running me clean. I can’t say enough about Todd [Opperman] and all those guys getting my car set up. I love racing here at COTA, not only because it’s so close to home and my family, but it’s a fantastic facility. I really love this place. Hat’s off to IMSA, Yokohama and Porsche for putting on a great series.”
David Ducote – No. 6, Kelly-Moss Road and Race – Gold Cup Winner
“It was still challenging. The Platinum cars are difficult to race against and I was in the mix with some of that pack. They are quicker on the straights but I was much faster in a lot of other sectors but it was a tough race. I was glad to run clean and consistent. That was my plan today to keep my head down and stay out of trouble and it worked out reasonably well. Kelly-Moss [Road and Race] did a great job on car set up and prep and after being out the car for almost a year, it felt great to get back in and do well out of the box.”
Source. LST Marketing