Victor Gonzalez in the No. 99 VGMC Honda Civic Type-R charged from fifth to first and took a surprising TCR America win Saturday at Sonoma Raceway in VGMC Racing’s fourth race as a team.
Mason Filippi took the TCR field to the green flag in the No. 12 Copeland Motorsports Hyundai Veloster N TCR and would lead for most of the race until championship leader Michael Hurczyn in the No. 71 FCP Euro VW Golf GTI would make a daring pass on the outside of Turn 1 over the Filippi-driven Hyundai for the lead with under 10 minutes to go.
With eight minutes remaining Nate Vincent in the No. 72 FCP Euro VW Golf GTI and Filippi made contact at the final hairpin while fighting for second position, allowing the stalking Gonzalez to slip into second place. James Walker also pounced to claim third in his No. 34 Risi Competizione Alfa Romeo. Vincent salvaged fourth position with Filippi coming home fifth. Filippi will start Sunday’s Race 2 from pole.
With only 47 seconds remaining, Gonzalez chased down Hurczyn and make a diving pass for the lead into the final hairpin and go on to take the TCR win.
“I’m so happy. We’re such a small team from Orlando and we did not know what to expect this weekend,” said an excited Gonzalez. “We knew our setup would allow us to come on later in the race, so I saved the tires until the halfway point of the race and then went for it. I have to thank HPD, the series, our partners, and LA Honda for letting us borrow some extra parts, we could not have done this without them!”
In TCR Cup Bryan Putt, in the No. 15 eEuroparts.com Rowe Racing Audi RS3 LMS, would leapfrog Stephen Vajda and the No. 18 EXR Team by Premat Audi for the lead with 17 minutes remaining to score his third class victory of the season, finishing sixth overall, and expand his championship lead. Vadja would fall to third with Christin Cole in the No. 27 McCann Racing Audi RS3 LMS coming home second.
In TCA, MINI JCW Team’s Mark Pombo jumped from fourth to first in his No. 59 Mini Cooper at the start of the race and held the lead until 21 minutes remained when polesitter Tyler Maxson nabbed the lead back in his No. 74 Copeland Motorsports Mazda MX5 Cup car and went on to score his first win of 2019. Pombo will start race 2 from pole after laying down the fastest race lap of 1:58.850.
Chris Haldeman, in the No. 69 X-Factor Racing Honda Civic Si, finished on the final podium step ahead of Nate Norenberg’s No. 60 MINI JCW Team Mini Cooper and Jose DaSilva’s No. 07 Ives Motorsports Mazda MX5 Cup car.
TCA championship leader Nick Wittmer and his No. 91 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ tS had transmission issues early in the race and fell to 12th in class.
TC America TCR/TCA race 2 goes green on Sunday at 12:55 p.m. local time, live on the series streaming platform at live.sro-america.com.