The second time around on Friday, Jeff Kingsley wasn’t to be denied.
Kingsley muscled past polesitter and championship rival Riley Dickinson at the start of the second Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama race of the day at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta and drove on to victory. It marked a reversal of the morning race when Dickinson won and Kingsley placed second.
Dickinson led the 20-car field to the green flag from the pole position in the No. 53 Moorespeed Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. Also starting on the first row in the No. 16 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche, Kingsley went into Turn 1 alongside Dickinson and held strong into Turn 2, where his inside line pushed him into the lead.
From there, Kingsley pulled away and went on to win by 5.023 seconds for his seventh victory of the GT3 Cup Challenge season.
“I knew I had to get him early, somewhere at the start,” Kingsley said. “I kind of just went for it. I didn’t know how it was going to end, to be honest. I just went in super, super hot and luckily it worked.”
The victory allowed Kingsley to negate the points Dickinson gained by winning the first race Friday. The Canadian, who made his IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut a week ago on the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, maintained a 22-point advantage on Dickinson heading into the final race of the Michelin Raceway tripleheader at 10 a.m. ET Saturday (live stream on IMSA.com). Kingsley will start on pole and Dickinson second in that race.
“It’s been a close season all year between us two, but I think that was one of my best performances all season,” Kingsley said about the Friday afternoon race. “I got him good outside there at the start and I just drove away from there.
“The Children’s Hospital car was unbelievable today. We made a lot of improvements after Race 1 and we’ve just got to do it all again tomorrow.”
While Kingsley controlled the scene up front Friday afternoon, there was plenty of action and battling for wins in the Platinum Masters and Gold Cup classes.
Platinum Masters points leader Alan Metni and Race 1 winner Charlie Luck put on a frenetic battle for the class lead for several laps before Luck passed Metni with 13 minutes remaining in the 45-minute race. Soon after, Metni pulled off course with a mechanical issue and Luck cruised to the class victory in the No. 45 Wright Motorsports Porsche for the second time Friday.
Luck finished nearly 30 seconds ahead of Platinum Masters runner-up Michael Mennella in the No. 4 MCR Racing Porsche.
“It feels so good, I can’t tell you how good it feels,” Luck said following his second win in six hours. “The key to the race was just (being) super aggressive; consistent, consistent, consistent; and small mistakes, not big mistakes.
“I’m just so thrilled; this is two wins in one weekend. We have put so much energy and effort into this. Preparation, car, body, nutrition, everything. With two races in a day, it makes a difference.”
Gold Cup class contenders Curt Swearingin and Efrin Castro had their own tussle for the class lead early in Race 2. Castro spun in the No. 65 TPC Racing Porsche while challenging Swearingin for first place less than 15 minutes into the race. Swearingin went on to win in the No. 17 ACI Motorsports entry. Castro battled back to finish second in class – the opposite of how they finished in Friday’s first race.
“There was a big battle going in front of us, like four or five cars, and it was checking us up,” Swearingin said in explaining the incident with Castro. “He got inside of me going into (Turn) 10A and all he did was give me room at 10B, he pinched me and it spun him. I was right on his side and I just brake, brake, braked and then got around him. I was lucky to survive that.”
Bart Collins was the third-place Gold finisher in the No. 22 MCR Racing Porsche and claimed the Yokohama Hard Charger Award for passing the most cars under green-flag conditions.
Friday afternoon’s race was special for GT3 Cup Challenge USA veteran David Baker. He took the green flag in the aptly numbered No. 100 Topp Racing to record his 100th series start. While he didn’t finish the race on track, Baker waved the checkered flag to conclude the affair and was presented a trophy on the podium to commemorate his achievement.