NASCAR sports car veterans star on the MPC Daytona podium

NASCAR driver Harrison Burton edged off heavy-duty sports car veteran Spencer Bumbley by 0.688 seconds to take the overall victory in Friday’s BMW M Endurance Challenge, the season-opening IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race at Daytona International Speedway’s 3.56-mile road race. .

Bampley, who co-drived with Jeroen Billkemolen and Tom Collingwood, moved the No. 83 BGB Motorsports Porsche 718 GT4 RS Clubsport from fifth to second in the final 30 minutes of the four-hour race, putting pressure on Burton as he closed in. Lead with every lap.

But the 22-year-old Burton — who drives the famous Wood Brothers Ford full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series — drove faultless, high-pressure circuits of his own in the No. 42 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4 to make sure he and his teammate Zane Smith became – 2022 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champion making IMSA debut – First NASCAR regular to win this race.

2021 NASCAR Truck Champion Ben Rhodes and fellow NASCAR Truck Series driver Hailie Deegan finished third in the No. 41 PF racing Mustang to complete the podium for the 32-car Grand Sport (GS) class.

Smith, 23, qualified an impressive third and pulled ahead immediately at the start, holding on to a huge lead with just under three hours remaining. A late pit strategy by the competition, however, changed the lineup as the No. 41 Mustang pitted to change drivers—Smith Out and Burton—after the midpoint.

Burton finished third with less than 50 minutes left, steadily working his way to the front. He took the lead for good when leader Elliott Skerr in the No. 47 Nollasport Porsche was forced to retire with 22 minutes left.

“I felt like I was a bit whacked early on because we pulled back a little bit after the first pit stop,” said Burton, making his second start of the race. “It was taking me a little bit to get back in the lead and I was like, ‘I don’t want to be the guy screwing up the team and not finishing the race like we should. “

“But a few restarts came our way and I kind of made my way from there. Much like NASCAR races, to be honest with you,” he added with a grin. Aggressive amount of dive bombs and stuff – I felt right at home in that. That was fun.”

Smith, who will attempt his first start at the Daytona 500 in February, gave a thumbs up to his friend Burton’s work.

“Watching Harrison at the end with Spencer coming made me shiver in my shoes, but he didn’t do anything wrong,” said Smith, rejoicing at the victory on the famous track. “If you can win anything at Daytona, whether it’s a dirt bike, a go-kart, a stock car and now a GT4 Mustang, that’s pretty amazing.

“Daytona offers an atmosphere unlike any other racetrack. Not only winning at Daytona but getting our first start is absolutely amazing.”

Road Shagger sends the current No. 61 Audi to the TCR winner

No. 61 Road Shagger Racing, Audi RS3 LMS SEQ, TCR Winners: Gavin Ernstone and Jon Morley. Griffith Bain / Lumen

John Morley and Gavin Ernston took the No. 61 Road Shagger Racing Audi RS3 LMS SEQ to a memorable final lap, winning the Touring Car (TCR) class portion of Friday’s race.

But the victory was not easy. Morley, who was at the wheel for the latter half of the four-hour race, had a 45-minute bumper-to-bumper battle with the No. 73 LA Honda World Racing Honda Civic FK7 TCR and driver Mike Lamara.

Morley wrestled the lead from Lamara with just 12 minutes left and won the 73rd in the last eight laps.

“We made a pit stop, took new tyres, and then there was a full yellow course that wiped out a huge lead (13 seconds),” said Morley. From there, it was a battle.

Morley added, “I couldn’t get rid of him (Lamara).” “Once I got him, I still thought I was going to let him go because the car was so good early on. I just couldn’t get him out of the mirrors.”

It was the fifth time Michelin Pilot has won the Michelin Pilot Challenge for both drivers, having been winless in 2022.

“It was great to go out there and win,” said Ernston. “Most races, we finish on the podium. Last year was just miserable. It’s just good to get right back out there and get a win.”

It also appears to be the last race for the car they used. Audi is set to retire it to make way for a new generation of RS3.

“We got a new car about two weeks ago and haven’t had a chance to test the car,” said Ernston. “It was always planned that this would be the last race for this car.

“This car goes into my trophy cabinet, if I can squeeze it in there,” he added.

The No. 61 Audi was caught in the middle of a multi-car crash at Turn Six midway through the race, but Ernston somehow emerged unscathed.

“I was very lucky to be able to cross,” he said. “It was like dividing the Red Sea and there was a space in the middle and I just threw it in there. Everything around me just went crazy. This is amazing. It was a great team effort.”

The No. 73 Honda finished 0.427s behind the winning Audi. Crossing the line in third was Bryan Herta Autosport’s No. 98 Curb-Agajanian Hyundai Elantra N TCR shared by Mark Wilkins and Mason Filippi.

CNBC will broadcast the race at 9 a.m. ET on Saturday, February 4th. The next Michelin Pilot Challenge race is the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 at Sebring International Raceway on Thursday, March 16.


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