Race Weekend Central

Motorsport in Action Wins From Pole at Laguna Seca

Motorsports In Action’s Jesse Lazare took advantage of lapped traffic Saturday (May 11) to make up a five-second deficit and take the lead with 28 minutes to go from Rennsport One’s Trent Hindman. From there, Lazare held on to win the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca 120 with teammate Michael de Quesada. For de Quesada, it is his first career victory in Pilot Challenge, while it is Lazare’s third career win.

“I knew that I was fortunate that [Hindman] got caught up in traffic because I was pretty far behind,” Lazare told NBC Sports’ Brian Till after the race. “Once I got past him, I knew that I had to hit my marks and not make any mistakes because I know that [Hindman] is an incredible driver and very aggressive, so I knew he was going to be there at the end.”

De Quesada and Lazare’s margin of victory was .691 seconds over Hindman and Stevan McAleer. Winward Racing’s Daniel Morad and Bryce Ward were third, then Hattori Motorsports’ Jaden Conwright and Jack Hawksworth. Van der Steur Racing’s Alex Premat and Rory van der Steur were fifth in their Aston Martin.

De Quesada started from pole in his McLaren and managed to get a big jump on the rest of the pack. JMF Motorsports’ Jesse Webb, who started alongside, ended up getting spun out in the Andretti Hairpin on the first lap by McCumbee-McAleer Racing’s Jenson Altzman, stacking up the field.

For Altzman, his race only got worse from there. At the end of the first lap, he was spun out in turn 11 by Archangel Motorsports’ Todd Coleman. That led to an unscheduled pit stop. Altzman and Chad McCumbee eventually finished 32nd overall, 21st in Grand Sport.

The race was neutralized early on when BGB Motorsports’ Thomas Collingwood dropped a wheel off the track and spun into the wall exiting turn 4. Collingwood walked away from the crash uninjured, but was done for the day.

Shortly after the restart, Victor Gonzalez Racing Team’s Chase Jones suffered a significant mechanical failure in his Hyundai. The car burst into flames exiting turn 6, forcing Jones to pull off. Putting out the fire resulted in another caution.

After the restart, de Quesada was able to slowly pull away from McAleer. The lead first grew to two seconds, then three, then five seconds.

The early cautions allowed everyone to save a significant amount of fuel. Normally, a two-hour race would require two pit stops for Grand Sport teams. However, having a good 20 minutes behind the pace car helped. Some teams chose to pit fairly close to the 40-minute mark, like Rebel Rock Racing. Others stayed out beyond the halfway point.

The man on the move early on was Hattori Motorsports’ Jaden Conwright. Conwright had originally qualified second, but the car had too much camber in post-qualifying inspection. The penalty forced him to start 25th, but he quickly climbed up the order into the top 10.

De Quesada stayed out until just after halfway before pitting and giving way to Lazare. However, the stop was a little slow. Rennsport One with Trent Hindman at the wheel was able to make up the five-second deficit and pass Lazare before he could get up to speed.

With the race staying green after the two early yellows, Lazare and Hindman ended up more than 20 seconds ahead of Hawksworth in third. That allowed them to settle things by themselves.

Hindman had a lead of over five seconds with 40 minutes to go when he caught TeamTGM’s Hugh Plumb to put the No. 64 Aston Martin. He was unable to get by the older of the Plumb brothers, but got held up as well. That allowed Lazare to move in on Hindman. The five-second lead dropped down to less than a second.

With 28 minutes to go, Hindman spun the tires exiting turn 11. That was all Lazare needed to get a run down the frontstretch. By the time they reached the Andretti Hairpin, Lazare was past and into the lead.

In TCR, Montreal Motorsports Group’s Bryan Ortiz started from pole in his Honda Civic Type-R TCR. Early on, Ortiz’s primary competition was Chris Miller in the JDC-Miller MotorSports Audi. However, Miller had an off-course excursion in turn 10 not too long after the second restart that dropped him back.

Ortiz was never challenged during his time in the car. However, things changed completely once Louis-Phillipe Montour got in the car. Bryan Herta Autosport’s Mason Filippi beat the MMG Honda out of the pits to take the class lead away.

Then, the real trouble started. Montour got loose in Rainey Curve and went off-course into the gravel. He rejoined, then got knocked off the track in turn 11. Later on, the car went straight on at turn 4, resulting in a third trip to the gravel in only a couple of laps. Ultimately, Montour was forced to pit for repairs. Montour and Ortiz would end up 30th overall, 10th in TCR at the finish.

In the final half-hour of the race, JDC-Miller MotorSports’ Mikey Taylor was on the move. He was able to run down and pass Robert Wickens for second. He then caught Filippi from what was ultimately five seconds back.

Filippi went wide exiting the Andretti Hairpin with 18 minutes to go. That was all Taylor needed to take the TCR lead. From there, Taylor was able to hold on to take his and Miller’s third straight victory to start the season.

The margin of victory was 1.254 seconds over Filippi and Mark Wilkins. Wickens and Harry Gottsacker were third, while KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering’s Tim Lewis Jr. and Dr. William Tally were fourth in their Alfa Romeo. Road Shagger Racing’s Gavin Ernstone and Jon Morley were fifth.

IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca 120 Unofficial Results

IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge teams are off for the next few weeks. The next race on their schedule is the O’Reilly 4 Hours of Mid-Ohio on June 9. That race will stream live on Peacock. Frontstretch will be on-site in Ohio 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.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share via
We'd like to hear from you, please comment.x