Race Weekend Central

Colin Braun, George Kurtz Win VIR GT World Challenge America Race No. 2

Good pit work from the Crowdstrike Racing with Riley Motorsports crew allowed George Kurtz to jump over Turner Motorsport’s Vin Barletta in the pits. From there, Kurtz held off ST Racing’s Samantha Tan to win Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS Race No. 2 at VIRginia International Raceway Sunday (June 18) with teammate Colin Braun. It is the team’s third overall win of the season and the fourth Pro-Am win of 2023.

“I’m super proud of the job George [Kurtz] did,” Braun told SRO America’s Amanda Busick in victory lane. “We had a fast car all week. Today is pretty special, not just for me and George, but for all the Crowdstrike folks. What a week.”

Braun is referencing the fact that both he and Kurtz raced in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Algarve Pro Racing earlier this month. Teamed up with James Allen, the trio finished 20th overall and won the LMP2 Pro-Am subclass.

Kurtz and Braun ended up .821 seconds ahead of Tan and Neil Verhagen. TR3 Racing’s Kenton Koch and Daniel Morad were third, then Wright Motorsports’ Jan Heylen and Charlie Luck. Racers Edge Motorsports’ Mario Farnbacher and Ashton Harrison were fifth.

In Pro-Am, Crowdstrike Racing with Riley Motorsports and ST Racing were the first two in class. Heylen and Luck were third, then Wright Motorsports’ Adam Adelson and Elliott Skeer. Turner Motorsport’s Barletta and Robby Foley were fifth.

Turner Motorsport’s Robby and was able to maintain a small gap over Braun. Further back, Verhagen was able to move up to fourth behind Heylen.

Trouble struck for DXDT Racing’s Corey Lewis as his Mercedes ground to a stop exiting turn 1 with a failure in the left rear suspension. The safety car came out so that Lewis’ Mercedes could be retrieved.

The safety car period ultimately interfered in Foley’s grandmaster plan for the race, which was to drive away as much as possible from Braun before stopping to put Vin Barletta in the car. He was never really able to get much of an advantage.

When it came time for the mid-race pit stops, the Pro teams pitted pretty quickly for the most part. The Pro-Am teams chose to stay out as long as they could to maximize the time in the Car for the Pro drivers.

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Unfortunately for Turner Motorsport, their pit stop was not very quick. Barletta ultimately ended up fourth at the end of the pit stop sequence behind Kurtz, Tan and Luck.

Sunday’s race was a clear example of how much Tan has improved as a driver in the past couple of years. In the past, she would have fallen off significantly. Here, she was able to methodically run Kurtz down and threaten him for the overall lead.

Tan tried to make a move on Kurtz with 30 minutes to go in turn 1. Kurtz was able to fend Tan off, then pulled out a small gap. Tan would be able to reel the Mercedes back in a little bit, then Kurtz would answer her.

Kurtz was able to manage his Pirelli tires and keep Tan at bay for the remainder of the race. Tan probably was faster than Kurtz, but got a little too far behind to capitalize.

In the Pro class, Farnbacher started from the pole and had a number of cars between him and the rest of the Pro class. However, Farnbacher struggled with his Acura NSX GT3 Evo22, dropping down the order a little bit from third on the grid to fifth overall. Meanwhile, BimmerWorld Racing’s Bill Auberlen moved forward from his starting spot to get to sixth overall.

During the mid-race stops, Racers Edge Motorsports was able to hold onto the Pro lead, but Harrison ended up right behind Barletta. Barletta was running a couple of seconds off the pace and Harrison had to spend a couple of laps trying to get past. That allowed Chandler Hull to make up significant time.

Ultimately, Hull did not figure into the final result as he was busted for speeding in the pit lane. The drive-through penalty dropped Hull completely out of contention.

Hull’s penalty put Koch up to second. He set a series of quick laps to run Harrison down from six seconds back within a few laps, then took the lead with a little more than 20 minutes to go.

Once in the Pro lead, Koch pulled away by roughly a second a lap. He was also reeling in Luck by a second a lap as well. Koch took third overall with 10 minutes to go, but ran out of time to catch the overall leaders before the finish. Regardless, Koch and Morad earned a weekend sweep in the Pro class.

Koch and Morad ended up 13.103 seconds ahead of Farnbacher and Harrison. Rennsport One’s Eric FIlguerias and Stevan McAleer were third, then Conquest Racing’s Alessandro Balzan and Manny Franco. Hull and Auberlen ended up fifth.

FANATEC GT WORLD CHALLENGE AMERICA POWERED BY AWS VIR RACE NO. 2 RESULTS

Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS teams are off for the next couple of months as a number of teams are going over to Europe to contest next month’s Crowdstrike 24 Hours of Spa. The next race weekend is Aug. 18-20 at Road America.

About the author

2021 Phil Allaway Headshot Phil Allaway

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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