Race Weekend Central

Robin Liddell, Frank DePew Win Virginia Is For Racing Lovers Grand Prix With Last Lap Pass

Rebel Rock Racing’s Robin Liddell was able to make the pass on CarBahn Motorsports with Peregrine Racing’s Jeff Westphal in the Oak Tree turn on the final lap. From there, Liddell made the fuel in his Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R hold out Saturday (Aug. 26) to win the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Virginia Is For Racing Lovers Grand Prix with teammate Frank DePew. It is Liddell and DePew’s second straight victory and moves the duo within 90 points of the points lead.

“We knew that we were super-tight on fuel, so we hit the reserve during the [last lap under caution],” Liddell told NBC Sports’ Hannah Newhouse. “We knew it was tight, but decided to go for it. I was able to get around [Westphal and Scott Andrews] and take the win. I’m absolutely delighted.”

Liddell and DePew’s margin of victory was .684 seconds over Turner Motorsport’s Robby Foley and Vin Barletta. McCumbee McAleer Racing’s Jenson Altzman and Joey Hand were third in their Ford, followed by the Random Vandals Racing BMW of Kenton Koch and Paul Sparta.

However, the No. 92 BMW was found to have excessive camber in post-race inspection. As a result, they were moved to the rear of the Grand Sport class. As a result, the Porsche of NOLAsport’s Adam Adelson and Elliott Skeer inherited fourth, while KohR Motorsports’ Luca Mars and Bob Michaelian were fifth. Westphal and Sean McAlister’s Porsche ran out of the fuel on the long backstretch and ended up 24th overall.

Turner Motorsport’s Cameron Lawrence started from pole and was able to maintain an early gap over Rennsport One’s Eric Filguerias. Meanwhile, trouble broke out in the TCR ranks a couple of laps in when KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering’s Roy Block was hit by Rockwell Autosport Development’s Nick Looijmans and spun.

Looijmans’ Audi was damaged and stopped out on course, bringing out an early caution. Block was able drive his Alfa Romeo back to the pits with a flat tire and made repairs, but dropped out later on with additional issues.

The issues for Looijmans continued when his Audi stopped on-course 33 minutes into the race to bring out another yellow. This time, the No. 15 Audi was done for the day. At the same, Barletta spun exiting turn 10 and got into the tires. His BMW had minor damage from the impact, but was able to continue.

Despite only being 35 minutes into the race, the leaders chose to pit here. Some teams took tires and fuel, while Filguerias took fuel only. Altzman took the lead by staying out.

The 40-minute mark was reached before the race restarted, so Altzman and a number of other drivers stopped for their driver changes. That gave the lead to Motorsports In Action’s Alex Filsinger.

The third caution flying just before halfway for a combination of Looijmans stalling for a third time and LA Honda World Racing’s Mike LaMarra sliding into the tires at the Oak Tree turn made it possible for GS teams that either hadn’t stopped yet or pitted on the restart from the second caution to realistically run the race with only one pit stop. However, those who had pitted during the second yellow couldn’t.

On the restart, Filsinger continued to lead, but Lawrence was right on his tail. TeamTGM’s Owen Trinkler was a lap down and trying to get his lap back when he ran in the back of Lawrence, spinning the pole-winning BMW exiting turn 3. Lawrence tapped the tire barrier before continuing. He and teammate Robert Megennis ended up 11th. Trinkler was given a drive-through penalty for causing the spin.

The early stoppers pitted shortly after the restart for their second stop to change drivers and take fuel. Once the dust cleared, CarBahn Motorsports with Peregrine Racing’s Jeff Westphal, who had made his second stop right before the third yellow flew, ended up with the lead and a 25-second advantage over Liddell.

Liddell had pitted at the end of the third caution, four laps after Westphal. As a result, he didn’t have to conserve as much fuel as Westphal and slowly began to reel him in. Andrews gave chase in his Lone Star Racing Mercedes.

Andrews was able to take second and make up a significant amount of time on Westphal, to the order of multiple seconds per lap.

With nine minutes left, KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering’s Tim Lewis Jr. crashed entering the Climbing Esses to bring out the fourth caution. The Alfa Romeo was out and a final restart was set up.

The yellow set up a one-lap shootout between Westphal, Andrews and Liddell. Contact between the three drivers in turn 1 resulted in Andrews spinning out off of Liddell’s nose. The spin was looked at, but the stewards chose to take no action. Andrews was incensed with anger afterwards.

“[The contact with Andrews] was unfortunate,” Liddell continued. “[Westphal] went on the inside to defend and I went outside. I knew I had to do the switchback. I think [Andrews] got pinched by the Porsche and he came back on me. I lifted out [of the throttle] and tried to avoid turning him. In the end, we made contact several times. I’m afraid it ended badly for [Andrews].”

Once Liddell made the pass, he had only six more turns and a couple of straights to go to take the win.

In TCR, there was a scramble on the first lap after one of the Grand Sport cars dropped a wheel off the track and kicked up a bunch of dust. Bryan Herta Autosport’s Michael Lewis was able to snatch the lead away from pole sitter Chris Miller in the confusion.

After the first caution, teammate Mark Wilkins was able to take the lead from Michael Lewis in turn 4. Meanwhile, Miller went into the Oak Tree complex too quickly and went into the dirt, dropping back to third.

The second yellow saw a similar split strategy come into play. The leaders all pitted, putting Victor Gonzalez Jr. in the lead in his Hyundai. While the other drivers who stayed out dropped back, Gonzalez was able to hold steady. At the time the third caution flew, he had just lost the class lead to Michael Lewis.

After the final pit stops, Mikey Taylor ended up in the lead with Tim Lewis Jr. giving chase, while everyone else was 50 seconds behind.

After the restart, Taylor held serve to take his and Miller’s second win of the year. The margin of victory was 6.974 seconds over Bryan Herta Autosport’s Harry Gottsacker and Robert Wickens. Teammates Wilkins and Mason Filippi were third, then Victor Gonzalez Jr. and Tyler Gonzalez in the VGRT Hyundai. Michael Lewis and Taylor Hagler were fifth.

IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Virginia Is For Racing Lovers Grand Prix Unofficial Results

IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge teams are off for the next couple of weeks. The penultimate race of the season is the four-hour Indianapolis Motor Speedway 240 on Sept. 16. Frontstretch will be on-site at IMS to bring you all the action.

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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