Race 1 of GT America powered by AWS at Watkins Glen saw a lot of action during the course of its 40-minute sprint race. Both pole sitters-turned-podium-toppers, George Kurtz and Seth Lucas, claimed the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap for their respective classes: Kurtz laid down a 1m47.514 while Lucas clocked in a 1m57.293.
When the green flag waved, George Kurtz (No.04 CrowdStrike with Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3) put the pedal to the metal and never looked back, taking the win in SRO3. Though, not without a strong showing from Jason Harward (No.88 Zelus Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan GT3), who was on his tail for most of the race until a spin during the closing laps of the race.
“CrowdStrike and Riley gave us a great car, so hats off to them all weekend,” Kurtz said. “It was just a weird race because of the cautions – I’d have a gap, and then a caution, then another gap. I think it was really just a matter of keeping my head down and executing.”
An early impact between Mirco Schultis (No.70 Mishumotors Callaway Corvette C7 GT3-R) and Jason Daskalos (No.27 Daskalos Motorsports Audi R8 LMS) caused a short yellow flag just a few minutes into the race. Once the race went back to green, ten minutes went by before another yellow flag was flown due to debris strewn across Turn 1 after Paul Kiebler (No.89 RENNtech Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4) impacted with the wall.
Daskalos was given a one-minute pit lane penalty for the early-race incident. This extinguished some truly impressive driving by the Audi contender, especially after showing great speed in spite of front-end damage.
Fast qualifier Marco Radisic (No.22 SRQ Motorsports BMW M4 GT4) failed post-qualifying tech inspection and was forced to start at the back of the grid.
This elevated Seth Lucas (No.016 Hattori Motorsports Toyota GR Supra GT4) to the pole and he never gave it up as he drove clean and maintained some truly impressive pace. This was his first race in GT America, having started the season with the Supra in the two-driver Pirelli GT4 America series.
P2 in GT4 for most of the race, Ross Chouest (No.50 Chouest Provoledo Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4), kept Lucas within his sights but couldn’t quite get up to his bumper. However, Chouest drove a great race regardless, taking his first second place finish after a string of fourth-places finishes this season.
“It was insane. Everybody worked so hard for this, everybody deserves this,” Lucas said. It was a pretty clean race and I kept it together for the final.”
Further back in the GT4 field, current season points leader Jason Bell (No.2 GMG Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4) and runner-up Moisey Uretsky (No.55 Accelerating Performance Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4) battled hard for the first half of the race in between yellow flags.
Elias Sabo (No.8 Flying Lizard Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4) and Adam Adelson (No.69 Premier Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport) also showed tremendous pace while trying to move up in the field, though eventually Sabo was given a one-minute pit lane penalty due to an incident at the start of the race.
Race 2 of GT America powered by AWS at Watkins Glen featured less yellow flag running and more action as SRO3 and GT4 racers took to Watkins Glen’s winding, high-speed tarmac. There was nothing but pure entertainment late in the race in both classes, exemplifying GT America as the premier series for North American GT sprint action.
Race 1 winner George Kurtz (No.04 CrowdStrike with Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3) repeated his Saturday success, marking his fourth win this season. It wasn’t easy, though: three-time 2022 podium-sitter Jason Harward (No.88 Zelus Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan GT3) never left Kurtz’s rear-view mirror, and at one point grabbed the lead from him. This fantastic scrap will be a solid inclusion for the season highlights reel.
Harward held the lead going into the last lap, but Kurtz made a dramatic pass in turn 9 to take the win.
“I saw he (Harward) had a lot of clag on his tires after the safety car, and saw him twitching in different turns,” Kurtz said in response to his battle with Harward after the yellow returned to green. “I just wanted to get behind him, and knew I was a little faster coming out of 7 heading into 8, and then got it done in 9.”
PJ Hyett (No.00 Team Hardpoint Porsche 911 GT3-R (991.ii)) showed tremendous pace and was able to make a pass on Jason Daskalos (No.27 Daskalos Motorsports Audi R8 LMS) in pursuit of a podium finish. This was no small feat, as Saturday’s qualifying session was the first time he’d ever driven on the Glen.
After setting the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap of 1m48.270, he had a chance to battle at the front as well. Unfortunately, his Porsche suffered a mechanical issue on track and required a tow, which brought out a full course yellow flag with 15 minutes remaining.
With 10 minutes remaining, Daskalos was in the brawl at the front with Kurtz, but was given a drive-through penalty due to passing under yellow earlier in the race. Mirco Schultis (No.70 Mishumotors Callaway Corvette C7 GT3-R) was given the same penalty, which gave Justin Wetherill (No.37 Triarsi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3) the bottom spot on the podium.
Early in the race, there were great battles going on all over the GT4 field. Marco Radisic (No.22 SRQ Motorsports BMW M4 GT4) got into a brawl with Todd Coleman (No.69 Smooge Racing Toyota GR Supra GT4), exemplifying the depth of field and race craft that this series possesses. Coleman ultimately finished third.
Ross Chouest (No.50 Chouest Provoledo Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4) and Elias Sabo (No.8 Flying Lizard Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4) got into it once the green flag dropped and never really let up until the Flying Lizard Aston lost speed due to a mechanical issue, dropping down to 19th.
Seth Lucas (No.016 Hattori Motorsports Toyota GR Supra GT4), making the shift from the two driver Pirelli GT4 America championship to the single driver GT America series, ran this race like a HPDE event, leading flag-to-flag, never looking back. Chouest finished second, but didn’t have the speed to challenge Lucas.
“It was awesome. Everybody put their work together and came to one,” Lucas said. “It was a pretty simple race, we cut the pace at one and just kept it all together.”
Winning the first two races you enter, and in a very competitive GT4 field to boot? Not bad, not bad at all.
Moisey Uretsky (No.55 Accelerating Performance Aston Martin Vantage AMR) grabbed the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap in GT4 after laying down a 1m56.867.
Adam Adelson (No.69 Premier Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport) suffered a mechanical issue early in the race and retired.
The action returns August 5-7 in Nashville for the Music City Grand Prix.