Championship favorite Michael Cooper and the No.10 Blackdog Speedshop McLaren 570S GT4 brought the Pirelli GT4 America Sprint field to the green flag for Friday afternoon’s Race 1.
Michael Cooper kept the lead ahead of the No.12 Ian Lacy Racing Ford Mustang GT4 of Drew Staveley as the field went through the uphill-downhill turn 1.
In Am, Jeff Burton and the No.91 Rearden Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4, snuck past pole-sitting Michael Dinan’s No.210 Flying Lizard Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage GT4 on the inside of turn 1, forcing Dinan to go wide. The No.59 Rearden Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 of Paul Terry would also sneak past the championship leader for second in class.
As the field flew down the back straight to turn 12, Tony Gaples and the No.11 Blackdog Speedshop McLaren 570S GT4 slipstreamed past Dinan for third position, but would brake too late for the turn and hit Terry, forcing the the Aston Martin to spin and fall to the back of the grid. Gaples would drop to fifth in class with the order now Burton, Dinan, and Jason Bell in the No.2 GMG Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 running third.
On the next lap, Sean Quinlan and the No.119 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M4 GT4 would use the Bavarian powered-car to get past Bell for third in Am as the two drag raced down the long, back straight.
With 39 minutes remaining in the race, Tony Gaples would be forced to pit and end his race due to damage from the incident with Terry.
As the clock ticked past the 25 minute mark, Am championship leader Dinan caught back up to Burton for the class lead, just 0.356 seconds behind. The two battled through the turns 14 and 15 complex and would see Dinan slip past Burton for the lead on the inside as both Aston Martins got ready for the long, multi-apex turn 16.
While the Am competitors battled, overall leader Michael Cooper continued to extend his lead over Staveley to over 3 seconds with 15 minutes left on the clock. Cooper would not put a foot wrong and would go on to cruise to his ninth win of the season. The McLaren factory driver would also set the race’s fastest lap of 2m17.560s, giving him pole for Saturday’s Race 2.
“I was pushing the whole race and the tires were starting to go from the pressure from Drew [Staveley] behind. Tomorrow morning should be a little different with the cooler weather, but we’ll keep working on this thing and make it even better, which is what the Blackdog crew is great at!” said Cooper.
Dinan would also take his ninth Am-class win of the season ahead of Burton and Quinlan. Jason Bell would come home fourth with Paul Terry recovering from his early-race spin to finish fifth.
“It’s quite hot out there on the track, so I had to take care of the tires, and eventually was able to reel in Jeff [Burton]. I was able to stay out in front and getting this result is really great!” said Dinan.