They took different paths, but Dan Goldburg and Billy Griffin completed weekend victory sweeps Sunday in the debut of the IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge. Goldburg cruised to a dominant win in the Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) class while Griffin battled from behind to triumph in the GSX class for GT4-spec cars.
Both drivers started from their respective pole positions in the 45-minute race. Goldburg, in the No. 73 JDC MotorSports Duqueine D08, was hounded by Bijoy Garg in the No. 3 Jr III Racing Ligier JS P320 until Garg spun in the Le Mans Chicane while working through lapped traffic with 15 minutes remaining. Relieved of that pressure, Goldburg went on to win by 9.739s over Brian Thienes in the No. 77 US RaceTronics Ligier.
As he did in Saturday’s first race, Griffin took a patient approach and relinquished the GSX lead on the opening lap to avoid potential confrontations. Dropping to third place in the No. 14 KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4, Griffin bided his time before overtaking Sebastian Carazo (No. 27 Kellymoss with Riley Porsche 718 GT4 RS Clubsport) for the lead on the tri-oval section of Daytona International Speedway with seven minutes to go. Griffin pulled away to win by 3.735s over Carazo.
Goldburg credited his LMP3 experience – three previous years overall, including 10 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races in the past two seasons – with his success negotiating slower traffic that led to the two VP Racing Challenge wins.
“I think the key was running WeatherTech last year and learning how to manage GT traffic,” said the 44-year-old from Delray Beach, Florida. “That came in really handy today.
“I like having the traffic to work with. I had good success last year in WeatherTech with it, so I like it. There’s definitely a big enough gap between the speeds of the (LMP3 and GSX) cars that’s manageable and can be used well. It’s good.”
It was that traffic and over-aggressive driving in his class that Griffin was on the lookout for in his bid to repeat as the GSX winner, and it wound up costing a pair of contenders. He and Carazo were locked in an intense four-car battle with Moisey Uretsky (No. 44 Accelerating Performance Aston Martin Vantage GT4) and Patrick Wilmot (No. 88 Split Decision Motorsports BMW M4 GT4) when Uretsky and Wilmot tangled in Turn 3 with 14 minutes remaining.
Wilmot’s BMW sustained significant damage and retired. Uretsky was assessed a drive-through penalty for incident responsibility and taken out of contention, leaving Griffin and Carazo to battle it out for the win.
“I lost the lead (on lap one) again because of aggressiveness and the way they were crowding in there but was able to regroup,” Griffin said. “I knew that the patience thing was going to pay off for me in the long run. I really just took my time and let the battle happen.”
Griffin got a run on Carazo through Turns 3 and 4 of the Daytona oval and made the decisive pass as they crossed the start-finish line.
“I made the move, it worked…and I was able to check away,” the Venice, Florida, resident and IMSA newcomer added. “It’s an amazing feeling; thrilled to death. Definitely a lifelong dream come true.”
Telecasts of the VP Racing Challenge races at Daytona air on CNBC at 11:30 a.m. (race one) and 12:30 p.m. ET (race two) Saturday, Jan. 28. The series returns to action March 11-12 at Sebring International Raceway.