The K-PAX Racing Pro-class driver pair of Jordan Pepper and Andrea Caldarelli (No. 3 Lamborghini Huracan GT3) swept the Watkins Glen weekend as they took the checkered flag in Race 2 for the overall win. The Compass Racing drivers of the No. 77 Acura NSX GT3 — Michael Di Meo and Matt McMurry — notched a third place overall finish that placed them at the top of the Pro-Am class, while the champions-elect AF Corse (No. 61 Ferrari 488 GT3) celebrated their Am-class championship early with another win in the class with drivers Jean-Claude Saada and Conrad Grunewald taking the hardware home.
At the drop of the green flag, the field immediately started the individual maneuvers for positioning and managed to complete those without major incident, but some incidental contact between Giovanni Venturini (No. 6 K-PAX Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3) and Drew Staveley (No. 12 Ian Lacy Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3) who had come up six positions on the opening lap would prove consequential later in the race. Michael Cooper (No. 19 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3) also made moves on the opening lap to improve his position, as did Vesko Kozarov (No. 91 Rearden Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3) who had started from the rear of the grid to serve a qualifying session penalty, but it was Giacomo Altoe’s five-position gain to get into fourth place overall that shook up the field and applied pressure everywhere.
Just six minutes into the race, a Full Course Yellow flag was shown due to large debris on the track, ostensibly from the No. 33 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, that would be the first time that the field gap-to-leader gains were erased, leaving only the re-shuffled positions gained from the early battles. Grenier would take the damaged No. 33 into the pits where it would later be determined to be unsalvageable and retired from the race. A few laps after returning to green, Venturini in the No. 6 Lamborghini made further contact with Staveley in the No. 12, adding more damage and knocking loose parts that were already in danger of separating from the vehicle. No flag was called at the time and Venturini continued his aggressive battle with Ryan Dalziel’s No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. A few laps of close-contact battling and Dalziel would drive the No. 63 into an early pit stop to correct a damaged aero piece.
Suddenly in Lap 16, a piece from the No. 12 car that had come to rest safely off-course found its way back onto the middle of the track, once again eliminating the gaps created by the drivers in preparation for the driver switch and packing the field enough to make pit strategies the deciding factor for the second half of the race. The FCY would end and return the race to green with just under three-minutes until the opening of the pit window. Once the window opened, it was No. 6 Venturini who would dive into the pits first from the field, while Heylen would keep out the No. 20 for almost the entirety of the pit window in an attempt to create a larger gap with which to hand off to his co-driver.
Once the pit window closed, the secondary-driver charge order had set with Pepper leading in the No. 3 K-PAX machine, Poordad picking up pace in the No. 20 Wright Porsche, Martin Fuentes driving at the front of the pack from the original 9th place position on the starting grid in the No. 9 TR3 Lamborghini, Dinan in the No. 96 BMW followed by Hagler in the No. 93 Acura, Vogel piloting the No. 19, Lewis in the No. 6 sister K-PAX Racing machine, McMurry charging in the No. 77, Harward in the No. 88 Zelus entry, Saada in the No. 61 Ferrari, and David Askew in the No. 63 DXDT Mercedes-AMG machine running laps to salvage the race for points.
Dinan immediately went to work recovering overall positions, climbing back to the number two position overall but lost ground when the team had to server a Drive-Through Penalty for a pit lane infringment, dropping them all the way back to eighth place on the field. Meanwhile, Lewis had worked up through traffic and into third place overall; after working on Poordad for a few laps, Lewis was able to make the pass and slot into second place, where he would ultimately finish the race.
So too did McMurry, climbing into the top five on the field within ten laps and then making the pass on both Fuentes and Poordad to slot himself into third overall, where he would take the checkered flag for the team. As well, post service-of-penalty, Dinan put his head down and charged forth from the eighth place overall through traffic to capture four spots in the last few laps of the race to finish on the podium in class.
In the Pro-Am class, Poordad held on enough to capture second place and put the team back on the podium, while the lengthy battle between Fuentes and Hagler ultimately ended with Fuentes the victor to close out the podium.
Catch the CBS Sports Network encore presentation programming of this weekend’s Watkins Glen action on September 22 at 9:00 p.m. GT World Challenge America competitors now head to Sebring International Raceway for another doubleheader weekend on October 1-3, before bringing the season to a close at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on October 15-17, run in conjunction with the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli for a stacked weekend card of racing.