Young McKay Snow posted his best results to date in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup series presented by Yokohama last weekend at VIRginia International Raceway. The Wright Motorsports rookie from Lehi, Utah earned two pole positions and recorded a second and a fifth-place finish in twin 45-minute races Saturday and Sunday with his 2017 UIS Porsche 991.
Snow and one of his teammates, Anthony Imperato of Brooklyn, N.Y., were the stars of the qualifying session on Saturday morning. Snow topped the charts with a time of 1:48.136 (108.862 miles per hour) for the 3.27-mile, 17-turn road course near the border of Virginia and North Carolina. Imperato’s time with his Henry Repeating Arms No. 91 was just 0.124 slower, earning him the second spot on the front row for Saturday’s race, and the pair duplicated that result for the grid of Race 2 on Sunday.
Snow fought off his teammate’s challenge into the first turn at the start of Saturday afternoon’s race and then checked out. He was over 2 seconds ahead by lap three, nearly 4 seconds ahead by lap five, over 5 seconds ahead by lap eight, and over 8 seconds ahead by lap 11. He set the fastest lap of anyone in the race on lap 15 with a time of 1:49.515 while leading by 8.286 seconds. Five laps later, however, the event’s only full-course caution waved, which set up a green-white-checkered finish. That erased Snow’s huge lead, and allowed the driver who had been second to sneak ahead on lap 23 in the track’s Rollercoaster section and relegate Snow to second at the checkered, just 0.273 behind. It was Snow’s best finish in the series to date, as his previous best result was a third in May at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, for the 19-year-old driver’s first GT3 Cup podium finish.
Less that 24 hours later, Snow led the first 11 laps of Sunday’s 25-lap race. He set the second-fastest lap of the race on lap 2 with a 1:48.820. He had a 0.974-second lead on lap 11 when unfortunately he went into a tire wall off the Oak Tree turn working lap 12. He was able to restart without assistance and rejoined the race without causing a full-course caution, but he dropped to seventh. He took sixth on lap 14 with 18 minutes remaining and fifth on lap 22 before time ran out. It was his fifth top-five finish of the season, and he still earned valuable points in the championship, where he’s currently in fifth place despite his rookie status.
Imperato was also very fast at VIR, but his results didn’t show his speed. He ran in second place to Snow for the first 10 laps of Saturday’s race until he had contact with another driver that caused damage to the left front of his Henry Repeating Arms No. 91 and forced him to make a pit stop. The Wright Motorsports crew was able to make repairs and he finished the race in tenth place.
He started second on Sunday but came under intense pressure immediately, and he had two incidents on lap one and lap three. He had dropped to ninth place by lap four but he persevered, setting his fastest lap of the race on lap 20 while battling back to a seventh-place finish. He is sixth in the current point standings, right behind Snow.
A third Wright Motorsports driver, Andrew Longe of Naples, Fla., qualified seventh and then finished seventh on Saturday and ninth on Sunday with his Trianon Hotels No. 47. He had a fierce battle with the sixth-place driver in Saturday’s race. An incident early in Sunday’s race forced him to pit, but he still recorded his tenth top-10 finish of the season. He is eighth in the current point standings with four races remaining.
The Batavia, Ohio-based team’s representative in the Gold Cup division, rookie Charlie Luck of Richmond, Va., finished sixth in class in both races. His battle during Sunday’s race was one of the best of the weekend.
“This was my first event at VIR,” Luck said. “Starting with testing and practice, I learned a tremendous amount despite my steep learning curve. I learned more about all the different aspects of braking, and some ways to try to optimize your lap times.
“In Race 1 I had about 13 laps of being consistent and having very competitive lap times, which was the first time I had done that in such a consistent manner. Unfortunately I spun off at Oak Tree Turn and the splitter on the front end had some damage, all of which later caused a significant vibration. I thought I had flat-spotted a tire that was coming apart. I finished the race sixth, and I was a bit frustrated because I felt I could have had a top-four finish.
“In Race 2 I had a tremendous amount of close racing with Alan Metni, and after the race learned a lot about race craft and things I was doing right and wrong. It was tons of fun racing extremely close for most of the race, and again I finished sixth.
“Overall it was a ton of fun, and a weekend full of learning,” concluded Luck, who is fifth in the Gold Cup points despite being a rookie in this series.
Only two events remain in the 2017 season: Sept. 15-17 at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., and Oct. 4-7 at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga.
Source. Restart Communications/Photo. Porsche