WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Wright Motorsports’ Charlie Luck has dominated GT America Powered by AWS on-track activity all weekend at Watkins Glen International. Race No. 1 for the class on Saturday (Sept. 18) was no exception. Luck led flag-to-flag, but had to hold on through a Green-White-Checker restart to win.
Luck was more than a second faster than anyone else in qualifying. On the start, Luck was able to stake out the lead. Rearden Racing’s Jeff Burton was able to get past Zelus Motorsport’s Jason Harward to take second on the first lap, but Harward battled back to re-take the position a couple of laps later in the Inner Loop. The two drivers continued to battle, but that allowed Luck to simply drive away. By the time the spot was permanently settled in favor of Burton, Luck was five seconds ahead,
The sketchiness entered the equation with 15 minutes to go. Stephen Cameron Racing’s Sean Quinlan and Rotek Racing’s Robb Holland had been fighting for position for nearly the entire race. After Luck came through to lap them, Holland tried to follow Luck past Quinlan on the inside of turn 1. Holland got alongside Quinlan, pushing the orange and blue BMW wide.
Quinlan attempted to get back over to the other side of the curb and turned across Holland’s nose. The result was that Quinlan spun and went hard into the Armco barrier before coming to rest in the middle of the track. The crash resulted in the race’s one and only safety car period. Track crews towed Quinlan’s car away and cleaned up the debris. However, in the time it took to do that, Quinlan’s BMW M4 GT4 began leaking fluid onto the track. Normally, this is taken care of with some sort of granular substance to soak up the fluid. Not so much here.
“There was absolutely nothing put down, absolutely nothing,” Luck explained. “As you know, that’s a very high speed uphill righthander and the last thing you need to do is lose the car and slide off into the Armco.” Luck believes that such a crash would likely completely total his Porsche 911 GT3 R.
For the restart, Luck had three GT4 cars between himself and Burton. The combination of Luck choosing to be extremely careful through the fluid and failing to get his tires cleaned up enough allowed Burton to get close up to pounce. However, Luck held on for the win.
Luck’s margin of victory was 0.415 of a second over Burton. Harward was third, then Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Andy Wilzoch.
In GT4, GMG Racing’s Jason Bell started from the pole and ran hard to get away from class points leader Quinlan. 3R Povoledo Racing’s Ross Chouest gave chase in his Aston Martin. At first, it appeared that Chouest was no match for Bell as he managed to pull away.
The big crash for Quinlan occurred as he was fighting for fourth in class. He was ok and walked to the Medical Car under his own power.
Since Luck had started lapping cars, the caution split the GT4 field. Bell, Chouest and Gray Newell managed to stay in front of Luck and were able to circulate around to the rear of the field. The rest of the class was stuck nearly a lap down.
On the restart, Bell appeared to be slow getting his Aston Martin back up to speed. That allowed Chouest to blast past and take the lead. From there, Chouest held on to take the win on the road. However, the win was stripped from Chouest after a stewards’ inquiry that determined that Chouest had jumped the final restart in order to get in front. As a result, Chouest was assessed a drive-through penalty. With no time to serve it, it was changed to a 31-second time penalty.
The time penalty resulted in Bell earning the GT4 victory. Newell was second, then Chouest. Christopher Gumprecht was fourth, followed by Holland.
By virtue of setting the fastest lap in the race, Luck earned the pole for Race No. 2 of the weekend. GT America teams will be back on-track for that race at 9 a.m. ET Sunday morning. That race will be streamed live on the GT World YouTube channel.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.
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