That means the No. 3 JDX Racing Porsche GT3 Cup machine and its 18-year-old driver from San Antonio, Texas, has only missed the podium once this year so far. There are only two more races left on this year’s schedule – on Thursday, Oct. 11 and Friday, Oct. 12 at Road Atlanta as part of the Motul Petit Le Mans event weekend for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – and Estep will go into that first of two 45-minute races with a 31-point lead over No. 1 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche driver Roman De Angelis.
It’s a comfortable lead, to be sure, but Estep is taking nothing for granted.
“In order to win a championship, you have to be consistent,” Estep said. “We’ve definitely focused on trying to be consistent and trying not to put ourselves in any dangerous positions on track.
“We’re just trying to stay out of trouble and just finish the best we can and not cause any problems. We’ve managed to do that. It’s been good. It’s worked out for us. Now, we have two more rounds at Atlanta.”
Estep’s lead in the championship grew even larger than originally anticipated after last Sunday’s race. He crossed the finish line second behind Zacharie Robichon in the No. 19 Moorespeed Porsche, but a post-race technical infraction moved the No. 19 to last place and elevated Estep to the top step of the podium for the fourth time this year.
“That’s extremely unfortunate for Zach and the guys at Moorespeed, but we’ll take it,” Estep said. “These points are extremely valuable. It’s so close between Roman and I and the points system is so tight that any type of mistake can affect everything. A win is a win and we’ll take it. The points are really good for us.”
The points have been good for Estep and the No. 3 team consistently since the first race of May’s doubleheader weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, which was Estep’s second win of the season. Estep has outscored De Angelis – his primary competition for the Platinum Cup championship for current-generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars – in every race from that point through last weekend.
And while Robichon had won each of the five previous races before last Sunday, he isn’t a full-time contender for the GT3 Cup Challenge USA title. Last month, Robichon won the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama championship. He joined Moorespeed for the first time in early August at Road America as a replacement for the sidelined Will Hardeman.
So, while Robichon has been dominant in the races, Estep has been doing exactly what he needs to do in the championship by keeping his primary competition behind him. He expects that to continue at Road Atlanta.
“We definitely don’t want to put ourselves in any scary situations where it can cost us a championship,” Estep said. “But depending on how Thursday goes in Atlanta, hopefully we can lock things up then. If we do, then I’m just going to get to have fun on Friday. Hopefully that’s the plan.”