Dramatic finishes are not uncommon in Michelin Pilot Challenge series races at VIRginia International Raceway at Alton, but throw in some rain, a series of late full-course cautions, just over two minutes and a one-lap dash to decide the winner, and you have every ingredient for a drama-packed race.
But this race had one more twist.
Kyle Marcelli, driving the KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4, crossed the finish line behind the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Park Place Motorsports entry driven by Trent Hindman but was awarded the GS class and overall race win.
Hindman, who had charged from seventh place to second place over the course of the final half hour of the two-hour race, was battling race leader Jesse Lazare in the Motorsports In Action McLaren GT4 for the lead when they dove into Turn 4.
Taking the inside line, Hindman’s Porsche made contact with Lazare’s McLaren, causing Lazare to spin.
Hindman sped on to edge Marcelli and take the checkered flag first, but IMSA officials imposed a post-race penalty against Hindman for incident responsibility, giving the win to Marcelli, and his co-driver Nate Stacy. Hindman and the team were relegated to a 12th-place finish.
The win was the first of the season for Marcelli and Stacy. It was also the pair’s second podium finish of the season after having finished second at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in July.
“It was a crazy end of the race, but it couldn’t have gone any better,” Marcelli said.
“At the end of the day, we crossed the line second. Sometimes you’ve just got to be there. That’s racing, they say.You’ve got to go to the end until the checkered flag.”
Series championship leaders Tyler McQuarrie and Jeff Westphal padded their lead with a second-place finish in the No. 39 Carbahn with Pelegrine Racing Audi R8 GT4. The BimmerWorld Racing BMW M4 GT4 co-driven by Ari Balogh and Mike Skeen finished third. They were in sixth place when the green flag flew for the final time and picked up three positions on the final lap to earn a podium finish.
Hindman apologized for the incident in a team press release.
“First off, I need to apologize to the Motorsports In Action team, Corey and Jesse, for being caught in my mistake today,” Hindman said.
“That one is 100 percent on me. I feel terrible for Alan (Brynjolfsson) and my Park Place family. These guys put forth a tremendous effort all weekend and especially in the race. That’s what put us in position to win, and I just wish I could have given us that win today by waiting a moment later.”
James Vance made a dramatic last-lap pass to give himself and FAST MD Racing teammate Nick Galante the win in the TC class in Saturday’s race.
A bold move to start the race on slick tires in an off-and-on rain while most other teams made a switch to rain tires paid off for the winners.
“We’ve been fast all year, but little mistakes just kept popping up, and I think we just ran out of mistakes to make,” said Galante who drove the first stint for the team.
“The first four laps I thought we made a wrong choice, but then it (the track) started to dry out and I started clicking off laps and started catching the leaders.”