Corvette Racing’s Jordan Taylor was able to jump over VasserSullivan’s Ben Barnicoat during the final round of pit stops. From there, Taylor was able to hold on to win the Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway on Sunday, Aug. 27. It is Taylor and Antonio Garcia‘s second win of the year.
“It was amazing! It all came down to strategy,” Taylor told NBC Sports. “When [the team] told me the fuel number, I was definitely worried. The car was so good in fuel-save mode that it actually helped me save the tires. With the announcement that has come out recently, I’m glad to give these guys something back.”
Taylor and Garcia’s margin of victory was 2.068 seconds over Barnicoat and Jack Hawksworth. Pfaff Motorsports’ Klaus Bachler and Patrick Pilet were third, while The Heart of Racing’s Ross Gunn and Alex Riberas were fourth.
Hawksworth started from pole in his Lexus, and he was able to open up a small gap early on. Meanwhile, Garcia was able to snag second on the third lap from WeatherTech Racing’s Daniel Juncadella.
For Kelly-Moss Road & Race’s David Brule, VIR was a tough weekend. Qualifying at the rear of the field wasn’t great, but things got much worse. Less than 10 minutes into the race, Brule lost control in the part of the track known as ‘the Snake’ and went hard into the tire barrier to bring out the first yellow of the race. Brule was ok, but his Porsche was thrashed.
Hawksworth was able to lead until he stopped 55 minutes into the race to hand over to Barnicoat. Due to stopping five laps later than the GTD cars, he dropped to second overall.
GTD Pro class was effectively split due to the second caution. Barnicoat and Taylor were up front behind Paul Miller Racing’s Bryan Sellers. Meanwhile, the other three GTD Pro cars were outside the top 10 overall after they chose to pit during the caution. They would not factor into the remainder of the race.
Shortly after the restart, Barnicoat was able to get around Sellers to take the overall lead. Taylor was able to follow through and nearly took the lead himself. Barnicoat kept the lead by taking Taylor deep into the roller coaster section of the track.
The race ultimately came down to the final round of stops with just less than an hour to go. Taylor pitted first with 58 minutes to go and got a good stop from the Corvette Racing crew.
Barnicoat came in a couple of laps later and had a decent stop. However, he stalled his Lexus trying to leave the stall. That was all Taylor needed to take the lead. Barnicoat nearly slipping off the track on cold tires in turn 1 didn’t help matters.
Ultimately, Taylor ended up with a three-second lead over Barnicoat. He was able to hold onto that advantage for the remainder of the race to take the win.
In GTD, Paul Miller Racing’s Madison Snow started on pole and spent the first portion of the race running away from the rest of the class. In fact, he spent much of the opening segment of the race after Brule’s crash threatening Juncadella for third overall.
As compared to the GTD Pro leads, Snow pitted five laps earlier for tires, fuel and to swap to Sellers. Having those five laps at speed allowed Sellers to jump over the GTD Pro leaders to take the overall lead.
Early on, US RaceTronics’ Loris Spinelli was very competitive in his Lamborghini. Then, the electronic issues started. Spinelli stalled at pit in and lost a bunch of time trying to get his car restarted.
Once Misha Goikhberg got in the car, the trouble got worse. Goikhberg’s No. 78 had an ABS system failure, and it resulted in Goikhberg locking up and sliding off-course in turn 1. The team called Goikhberg into the pits for repairs, but before he could get there, he locked up again and slid into the tires at the end of the backstretch to bring out the second caution.
Goikhberg was able to get out of his Lamborghini under his own power. He was later checked and released from the infield care center.
Sellers being ahead of the GTD Pro cars allowed him to open up a sizable gap on the other GTD contenders. Slowly but surely, the gap grew.
Snow got back into the car during the final round of stops. With the two Paul Miller Racing drivers having similar pace, Snow was able to continue to expand the lead as the championship-leading duo took their fifth win of the year and second in a row.
Sellers and Snow ended up third overall and won the class by 12.187 seconds over Turner Motorsport’s Robby Foley and Patrick Gallagher. Winward Racing’s Philip Ellis and Russell Ward were third, courtesy of Ellis passing Bill Auberlen with two laps to go to prevent a BMW sweep of the podium. Auberlen and Chandler Hull were fourth, while VasserSullivan’s Frankie Montecalvo and Aaron Telitz were fifth.
There are only two races remaining in the WeatherTech season. Next up is the TireRack.com Battle on the Bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sept. 17. That race will air live on NBC starting at 1 p.m. ET. Frontstretch will be on-site in Indianapolis 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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