Random Vandals Racing’s Kenton Koch took the lead when Conquest Racing/JMF Motorsports’ Michai Stephens slowed with mechanical problems with under five minutes to go. Koch held on to win Pirelli GT4 America SprintX Race No. 1 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Friday for himself and teammate Kevin Boehm.
“I feel so gutted for [the Conquest guys],” Koch told SRO America’s Amanda Busick after the race. “I wasn’t going to catch him. I was gaining one-tenth, two-tenths of a second, but Michai [Stephens] is a phenomenal driver who is always consistent. I don’t know what happened [to Stephens]; it’s really unfortunate that we had to win that way.”
The margin of victory was 5.314 seconds over The Heart of Racing’s Roman DeAngelis and Gray Newell, winners of the Pro-Am class. NOLAsport’s Jason Hart and Matt Travis were third, followed by ACI Motorsports’ Andrew Davis and Francis Selldorff. Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Andy Lee and Elias Sabo were fifth.
In the Silver class, Koch and Boehm won by 13.185 seconds over Davis and Selldorff. AutoTechnic Racing’s Zac Anderson and John Capestro-Dubets were third, then STR38 Motorsports’ Harry Gottsacker and Chandler Hull. Hanley Motorsports’ Daniel Hanley and Parker Thompson were fifth.
The first lap was marked by shenanigans. Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Jason Bell spun in turn 10, creating a smoke screen for those behind him. Meanwhile, BimmerWorld Racing’s James Walker Jr. pulled off with mechanical issues to bring out the safety car. The move has championship implications in the Pro-Am class as Walker and Tyler McQuarrie had a 19-point lead in the standings entering the race.
Once the green came back out, Webb was able to hold on to his advantage over Boehm. When the pit window opened 25 minutes into the race, Webb chose to pit at the earliest opportunity. Boehm waited a couple of extra laps before stopping.
After the stops, Stephens ended up inheriting a lead of more than four seconds over Koch. Koch had a faster car than Stephens and was reeling him in over the final laps. However, Stephens’ car lost power with under five minutes to go
In Pro-Am, Travis started from pole and settled into the third position. Giving chase was Kevin Conway in the Smooge Racing Toyota. Conway was right up to Travis’ bumper 20 minutes into the race, then slowly dropped off.
Once Conway handed over to Aaron Telitz, Telitz continued to hold on in the top-five. Telitz was only in the car due to regular driver John Geesbreght being injured in a crash during Race No. 2 at Sebring back on Sept. 23.
Telitz ended up being caught by the Silver entry of Thompson. A short battle erupted between the two drivers who will share a car in the Motul Petit Le Mans next weekend. It ended in tears exiting turn 9.
Thompson was determined to be responsible for the incident. As a result, he had to serve a drive-through penalty that dropped the No. 999 Toyota from fifth overall to 22nd. He would eventually recover to finish 15th, fifth in class.
The incident gave Hart a substantial lead in class. However, DeAngelis was substantially faster and managed to run down Hart’s Porsche. A short battle erupted, but Hart could do nothing to prevent DeAngelis from take the lead.
Anderson pulled over to get out of the way of the battling duo. It was a good move as they came together in turn 11, resulting in van Berlo having a mechanical failure that forced him to pit and retire his Porsche. The contact is currently being investigated by SRO America officials and a penalty could change the results.
DeAngelis was able to hold on to take his Newell’s first win of the year in second overall. Their margin of victory was 6.958 seconds over Hart and Travis. Lee and Sabo were third, followed by Conway and Telitz. Rooster Hall Racing’s Colin Garrett and Johan Schwartz were fifth.
In the Am class, The Heart of Racing’s Hannah Grisham started from her first career pole in fifth overall. Grisham was very competitive and held onto the lead until she made her pit stop to hand over to Rianna O’Meara-Hunt.
O’Meara-Hunt came out of the round of stops in 11th overall. She was able to move her No. 26 Aston Martin back into the top 10 overall. Further back, STR38 Motorsports’ Chris Allen was eight seconds back and closing.
O’Meara-Hunt’s eight-second lead was whittled down to three seconds. It looked like Allen was going to be able to catch up, but he was then swallowed up by faster Pro-Am teams coming from behind. That was all O’Meara-Hunt and Grisham needed in order to take their first class victory in Pirelli GT4 America SprintX.
Grisham and O’Meara-Hunt ended up ninth overall, 2.253 seconds ahead of the Toyota of Carrus Callus Raceteam’s Terry Borcheller and Nick Shanny. Allen and Robert Mau were third, then AutoTechnic Racing’s Satakal Khalsa and Rob Walker. NOLAsport’s Nelson Calle and Juan Pablo Martinez were fifth.
Pirelli GT4 America SprintX teams will take Saturday off. Their 2023 season will conclude Sunday morning with Race No. 2 from Indianapolis at 10:35 a.m. ET. The race will be streamed live at the GT World YouTube channel, on SpeedSport1 and on Motorsport.tv.
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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