Just past the halfway point of the Mid-Ohio 120, Eric Foss and the No. 56 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT GT4 appeared to have the two-hour IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course under control.
Pole winner Kenton Koch had pitted and handed the car to Foss one lap earlier than the team had hoped. As a result, Foss knew he was in fuel-saving mode from the start of his 61-minute stint to close Saturday’s late-afternoon race.
Foss had a 6.3-second lead that grew to more than 13 seconds when another Murillo entry, the No. 72 Mercedes driven by Christian Szymczak, tangled with the Nate Stacy in No. 60 KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4 while disputing second place.
At that stage, with 43 minutes left in the race, few would have predicted that Trent Hindman in the No. 7 Volt Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 would catch the leading Mercedes at all, much less with 15 minutes still remaining. Over the next 10 laps, Hindman and Foss engaged in a tremendous battle, once running side-by-side through a series of six corners that began in Mid-Ohio’s famous Esses.
Foss nosed ahead exiting Turn 9 and up through Thunder Valley; Hindman may have taken the best out of his Michelin tires in the dramatic sequence. He never got quite as close again, and the bright yellow Aston crossed the line 0.699s behind the burnt orange Mercedes.
“We knew we were on the back foot for fuel and luckily I had a bit of a margin there,” Foss said after claiming his first Michelin Pilot Challenge victory since he and Jeff Mosing triumphed at Lime Rock Park in July 2021. “Every time I race with Trent, he’s super-polished and fun to race with. I’m glad we were able to have a good battle at the end and make it entertaining for everyone.
“I knew he was coming, and I kept asking, ‘Are we going to make it?’ and they said no,” he added. “When he got to me with five, six, seven laps to go, it felt like an eternity, and the guys in the pits said we just had to go. We didn’t even know if we’d make it to the end.”
Hindman paid respect to his rival Foss and the Murillo team. With the second-place finish, the No. 7 Volt team unofficially holds a 130-point lead over the No. 56 Murillo team in the Grand Sport (GS) standings.
“They did enough once they saw us coming,” Hindman said. “They were able to turn it back up and at least have some faith they were going to make it to the end. I’m happy we ended up where we ended up. Just a really good day overall.”
Andrew Davis and Michael McCann finished third in the No. 8 McCann Racing Porsche 718 GT4 RS Clubsport, with Stacy and Luca Mars taking fourth in the No. 60 KohR Mustang ahead of the No. 72 Murillo Mercedes shared by Szymczak and Kenny Murillo.
Making Murillo Racing’s day even better, the team’s No. 65 Mercedes driven by Tim Probert and Brent Mosing took Bronze Cup honors.