Race Weekend Central

Billy Johnson, Parker Thompson Win CTMP 120 After Turner Motorsport Cops Penalties

Hattori Motorsports’ Billy Johnson and Parker Thompson inherited the win in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Canadian Tire Motorsport Park 120 Saturday (July 8). The duo actually finished 27.234 seconds behind Turner Motorsport’s Cameron Lawrence and Robert Megennis on the road.

However, the Turner duo were moved to the rear of the Grand Sport class after failing post-race technical inspection. Two hours after the race ended, IMSA announced that the No. 95 BMW M4 GT4 had failed to meet the minimum weight. That cost them the victory right there. Shortly afterwards, a violation of the 48-second minimum refilling time was also announced.

The penalty gives the Hattori operation their second victory of the weekend. Hattori Motorsports is a sister operation to Hattori Racing Enterprises, which races full-time in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The team fielded a one-off entry in the ARCA Menards Series that Tyler Ankrum drove to victory in Friday’s Zinsser SmartCoat 150 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

See also
Tyler Ankrum Spins-and-Wins in Mid-Ohio ARCA Race

With the penalty enacted, Johnson and Thompson’s margin of victory was 23 seconds over Rebel Rock Racing’s Frank DePew and Robin Liddell. Van der Steur Racing’s Austin McCusker and Rory van der Steur were third, followed by Thaze Competition’s Michael DiMeo and Marc Miller. Lone Star Racing’s Scott Andrews and Anton Dias Perera were fifth.

Thompson started from pole and managed to hold onto a decent advantage. However, the early portions of the race was somewhat rough.

On the second lap, Murillo Racing’s Jeff Mosing collided with the Ford Mustang GT4 of McCumbee-McAleer Racing’s Jenson Altzman. The contact broke Altzman’s left rear suspension and put him in the wall. Mosing ended up with a flat tire. While Mosing was penalized, Altzman ended up in the garage for repairs. He would eventually finish 13 laps down.

Later in the lap, Winward Racing’s Bryce Ward spun into the tire barrier exiting turn 8 after contact from Turner Motorsport’s Vin Barletta. While Ward was able to get out of the wall and drive back to the pits, he was done for the day.

Thompson struggled at first while his tires came up to temperature. During this time, he had van der Steur right behind. As the tires warmed up, Thompson slowly but surely pulled away from the field.

50 minutes into the race, Thompson had a 12-second lead over Megennis when he made his first stop to hand over to Johnson. Here’s where the fuel refilling infraction came into play. Hattori Motorsports had a decent pit stop. However, the 12-second lead that Thompson had disappeared.

When the sequence of stops was complete. Johnson had Lawrence right on his tail for the overall lead. It took only a couple of laps for the former TA2 champion to take the overall lead.

Once out in front, Lawrence was able to open up a solid advantage over the Toyota. However, two more factors came into play. One was weather. Precipitation moved in from the west and resulted in raindrops falling on the 2.459-mile circuit.

Another issue was fuel mileage. A number of the teams were borderline on fuel. Megennis went four laps further on fuel during the first stint of the race than Thompson did, allowing Lawrence to be a little more aggressive.

Teams began stopping for fuel in the final 20 minutes, which shuffled the running order. Johnson had fallen back from Lawrence by as much as three seconds, but pulled back to within one second before he was forced to pit for a splash of fuel with seven minutes to go.

Those who had to stop could push harder in the final laps than those who didn’t stop. Ultimately, Megennis and Lawrence were the only ones able to compete the two-hour distance in GS on one stop.

In TCR, JDC-Miller MotorSports’ Chris Miller started on pole in his Audi, but got stuck behind slower GS traffic. That allowed LA Honda World Racing’s Mat Pombo to snatch the lead away.

Unfortunately, Pombo was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop 14 minutes into the race due to braking issues. It was just the beginning of a series of mechanical issues that put the No. 37 Honda out.

Miller regained the lead when Pombo made his pit stop. From there, the new Audi pulled away from the field. Ultimately, Miller had an advantage of nearly 10 seconds prior to stops.

The class was ultimately decided by a split pit strategy. Bryan Herta Autosport’s Harry Gottsacker pitted on the same lap as Thompson for fuel, tires and a driver change to Robert Wickens. Miller chose to stay out a couple of extra laps.

The early stop got Wickens the class lead. That lead was over 20 seconds due to significant issues for JDC-Miller MotorSports on pit road.

The remainder of the race was one long chase down for Mikey Taylor as he had to drive hard to make up the 20-second deficit.

With less than 10 minutes to go, Taylor caught Wickens, who was held up behind slower traffic. The two drivers battled for a few laps before Taylor executed a bump-and-run at Moss Corner to take the lead. From there, Taylor was able to hold on to take his and Miller’s first win of the year.

Shortly after Taylor took the lead, Wickens had to pit for a splash of fuel. He was able to hold onto second, but was passed by the overall winners in the process. As a result, Miller and Taylor ended up on a lap of their own.

Mason Filippi and Mark Wilkins in the No. 98 Hyundai were third with LA Honda World Racing’s Mike LaMarra and Dr. William Tally right behind them. KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering’s Roy Block and Tim Lewis Jr. were fifth.

IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Canadian Tire Motorsport Park 120 Provisional Results

The upcoming schedule for Pilot Challenge is split. The TCR class will be in action July 22 at Lime Rock Park for the Lime Rock Park 100. That race is scheduled to go green at 4:15 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on Peacock. Frontstretch will be on-site at Lime Rock to bring you all the action. GS teams will return to action at Road America on Aug. 5.

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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