Turner Motorsport’s Robby Foley took the overall lead on a restart when Rennsport One’s Eric Filguerias made his final pit stop in Saturday’s (June 24) IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Sahlen’s 120 at the Glen.
From there, Foley was able to hold on for his and teammate Vin Barletta‘s second win of the year. It is Turner Motorsport’s third straight Pilot Challenge win at Watkins Glen.
“[Today] was awesome,” Foley told Frontstretch after the race. “The race was very interesting, up and down with weather. Once we got going, we started out in the wet. Vin [Barletta] did a great job to survive the wet and…hold position. A couple of good strategy calls and good pit stops got us midfield, then we raced to the front.”
Foley and Barletta won by .680 seconds over teammates Cameron Lawrence and Robert Megennis. TeamTGM’s Ted Giovanis and Owen Trinkler were third, followed by Archangel Motorsports’ Todd Coleman and Billy Johnson in their best run of the season. Murillo Racing’s Kenny Murillo and Christian Szymczak were fifth.
A severe thunderstorm delayed the start of the race by 50 minutes. Once the full stop was lifted, Murillo led the field of 35 to green. Although it was not raining at the time, the track was still wet, so everyone started on rain tires.
Murillo was able to open up a three-second lead over TeamTGM’s Hugh Plumb in the opening laps. Plumb had to deal with Rory van der Steur. Van der Steur, driving a repaired Aston Martin after he was run over in Detroit, hassled Plumb for position, but could not get by.
The track quickly dried, forcing drivers to search for wetter parts of the track to keep their tires cool. Murillo stopped 22 minutes into the race to switch to slicks.
Plumb chose to stay out for a couple of extra laps along with van der Steur, although Plumb was able to handle the switchover better. Van der Steur spun exiting turn 7 on his out lap.
The second yellow flew just before the 40-minute mark when NOLAsport’s Adam Adelson and Winward Racing’s Bryce Ward came together exiting turn 9. Adelson spun head-on into the wall, while Ward hit the barrier on the other side of the road. Turner Motorsport’s Robert Megennis also got a piece of the wreck. Megennis was able to continue with repairs, but both Adelson and Ward were out on the spot.
At the time of the yellow, Ave Motorsports’ Alfredo Najri had not stopped yet and was leading. By the time the pits opened, the minimum drive-time had been met, so most of the leaders stopped.
A number of teams chose an alternate strategy and stayed out. Motorsports In Action’s Jesse Lazare took the lead, but lost the lead on the next restart to Filguerias.
Shortly after Filguerias took the lead, Matt Plumb had contact with CarBahn Motorsports with Peregrine Racing’s Sean McAlister in turn 6. That bounced Westphal into Lone Star Racing’s Scott Andrews. Andrews’ Mercedes ended up with a broken suspension and stopped to bring out another yellow.
Once the remaining drivers on alternate pit strategies stopped, Foley ended up in the overall lead with Szymczak giving chase. Szymczak could not keep pace with Foley and allowed Lawrence to pass for second.
A combination of Chad McCumbee colliding with Stevan McAleer and hitting the wall exiting the Inner Loop, along with Mark Wilkins stalling on the backstretch brought out the final yellow of the race. McAleer was given a penalty for the crash.
On the final restart, Foley and Lawrence opened up a decent gap on the rest of the field. No one could prevent the one-two finish.
In TCR, LA Honda World Racing’s Mat Pombo led the 13-car field to green. Bryan Herta Autosport’s Harry Gottsacker was able to take second on the start from Chris Miller and try to run down Pombo. Unfortunately, Gottsacker cut his left front tire early and was completely out of the hunt afterwards.
The stops to change to slicks started in TCR roughly 25 minutes into the race. Only a couple of teams did not stop before the first yellow. The best of those drivers was Dr. William Tally in LA Honda World Racing’s No. 73 Honda.
The No. 73 dropped nearly to the rear of the class when everyone stopped during the second caution. Pombo did not get out of the No. 37 here despite satisfying minimum drive-time. Not getting out here forced the team into an alternative pit strategy.
Rockwell Automotive Development’s Denis Dupont ended up in the class lead and was running very well. Then, Dupont’s Audi died in turn 7 and came to a halt to bring out the fourth yellow of the race.
Dupont’s issues put Bryan Herta Autosport’s Michael Lewis in the class lead with Tim Lewis Jr. in the Alfa Romeo giving chase after teammate Roy Block had a flat tire early in the race. However, Michael Lewis suddenly dropped back down the order as the Alfa took control.
A lap or so later, Michael Lewis collided with Ryan Eversley in turn 7, resulting in both cars going into the wall to bring out another yellow. Eversley was out on the spot, while Michael Lewis continued with significant damage to the driver’s door. He was then hit with a drive-through penalty for causing the caution.
Tim Lewis Jr. was able to hold off the pack on the final two restarts to take his and Block’s second win of the year.
Block and Tim Lewis Jr.’s margin of victory was .576 seconds over Miller and Mikey Taylor. Van der Steur Racing’s Tyler Maxson and Bryan Ortiz were third in their Hyundai, followed by Road Shagger Racing’s Gavin Ernstone and Jon Morley in their brand-new Audi. Gottsacker and Robert Wickens recovered from their flat tire to finish fifth.
IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge teams have a week off before venturing to Ontario. The Canadian Tire Motorsport Park 120 is scheduled for July 8 at 4 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on Peacock.
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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