Following a month long break since the last outing, a single race at Watkins Glen International, the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama roars back to action at one of the fastest, most challenging circuits on the schedule – Road America, the so-scenic four-mile, 14-turn natural road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Many of the teams needed that lengthy break – some miserable weather at Watkins Glen contributed to several on-track incidents that sidelined more than a few competitors, and led to the abandonment of one of the two races there. With plenty of time off to make repairs, the entry list for the twin 45-minute races this weekend is robust. In addition, there will be a make-up race, replacing that rained-out Round 7 from Watkins Glen, creating a triple-header weekend for the drivers and teams.
As they have most of the season, the Platinum competitors – racing all-new 2017 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars that will be making their first appearance at Road America – are chasing Jake Eidson, the Littleton, Colorado, driver of the No. 24 Kelly-Moss Road and Race entry. As the recipient of the inaugural IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship, named for and awarded by the legendary endurance racer, Eidson was assisted with funding for a full season by partners IMSA, Porsche and Yokohama.
And he has made the most of it, scoring four wins leading to a healthy, but not unassailable, lead in the points. And while Eidson may be from the other side of the Rocky Mountains, he should still benefit from a home-field advantage – Kelly-Moss Road and Race is based in nearby Fitchburg, Wisconsin, near Madison. The team has been racing since 1989, and has won multiple championships in a variety of series.
That said, Eidson hasn’t won every race this season. Trenton Estep, second in points and Corey Fergus, who is third, have both visited the top step of the podium. Estep, the San Antonio, Texas, driver of the No. 3 JDX Racing/Hertz entry, and Columbus, Ohio’s Fergus, who races the No. 00 Moorespeed/US LED/Byers Imports car, are only three points apart in the standings.
This year’s highest-profile rookie, C.J. Wilson, is entered in his No. 33 C.J. Wilson Racing/Porsche Fresno car – Wilson, of Laguna Beach, California, retired last year after a career as an All-Star Major League Baseball pitcher, for the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels. Wilson has long had a passion for racing, and owns a couple of successful IMSA teams, but it wasn’t until his baseball contracts were up that he was able to begin a second career as a race car driver. He chose the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA to get his start, and says he doesn’t intend to quit until he reaches the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Wilson is tied for 13th in points.
Others to watch: McKay Snow, the Lehi, Utah, 19-year-old, second-generation driver, competing in the No. 63 Wright Motorsports/Snow Racing entry, is hoping to follow older brother Madison to the series championship, then a career with the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series. He’s had some strong finishes, and could challenge for a win by season’s end.
Another Wright Motorsports driver, Andrew Longe of Naples, Florida, has had a good year in his No. 47 Trianon Hotels car, is in a tight battle with teammate Snow in the standings – Snow is fourth, Longe is just two points back in fifth.
In the Platinum Masters competition – a championship-within-a-class for drivers 45 and up – David Baker, the Colleyville, Texas, driver of the No. 56 TOPP Racing/Apex Capital car leads the points, just ahead of Mark Kvamme of Columbus, Ohio, in the No. 43 JDX Racing car, and Jeff Mosing of Austin, Texas, driver of the No. 01 TOPP Racing/Mosing Motorcars entry. Mosing has the most wins in the Masters division, but he was collected in the incident at Watkins Glen and dropped to third in the points.
In the Gold class, for Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars from years 2014-2016, Fred Kaimer of Austin, Texas, leads the standings in his No. 23 NGT Motorsport/Race Deck car. But he might want to keep his eyes on driver Greg Palmer, the only Wisconsin driver in the field, who has the added advantage of racing for hometown heroes Kelly-Moss Road and Race.
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA By Yokohama will race three times this weekend, with Friday’s race a makeup for the abandoned Round 7 event at Watkins Glen, followed by regularly-scheduled races Saturday and Sunday.
For more information about Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, visit http://www.imsa.com, and follow hashtags #GT3USA and @IMSA on Twitter or IMSA on Facebook. All three races will stream live on IMSA Radio at IMSA.com. Live timing for every race is available at IMSA.com, with live streaming video of all races at IMSA.tv.
Schedule (all times ET):
Practice: 5:20 – 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 3 and 2:15 – 2:45 p.m Friday, Aug. 4
Makeup Race – Round 7 from Watkins Glen International (45 minutes): 9:55 – 10:40 a.m. Friday, Aug. 4
Qualifying: 6:25 – 6:45 p.m. Friday, Aug. 4
Race 1 (45 minutes): 12:30 – 1:15 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5
Race 2 (45 minutes): 10:40 – 11:25 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 6
Source. LST Marketing