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May 04, 2014 - 06:20 AM
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Lewis Wins Pole On Last-Gasp Lap At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Posted by: newsla on May 04, 2014 - 06:18 AM
Le Mans News
Lewis Wins Pole On Last-Gasp Lap At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca


It was impossible to tell during Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama qualifying May 3 that Michael Lewis was driving at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for just the third day in his life.

 

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Series rookie Lewis earned his first career pole with a last-lap time of 1 minute, 27.786 seconds, 91.778 mph in the No. 98 Competition Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, taking the top spot from series leader Angel Benitez Jr. in the final minute of the session.

"The car is really good," Lewis said. "We're sitting at the top of the charts, and the car helped me do that. Awesome last lap, that's really all I can say. We had to do it in the last minute, and everyone was fighting for some track space. I had to fight for every inch of the track, and luckily I could do it on the last lap.

"We were hoping to start in the first two rows, at least, so it's icing on the cake to be first. It was a good effort by the team, and we just threw it down on the last lap. I was just trying to improve mentally on what I was doing before, a little bit of self-coaching on that last lap."

This is the first race at the iconic Northern California track for Lewis, 23, a native of Laguna Beach, California. He came to the single-make series this season after winning the IMSA Scholarship, wanting to race sports cars in America after spending the last three years in Europe in Formula 3 competition.

Benitez, from Valencia, Venezuela, will start second after a top lap of 1:27.808 in the No. 05 Formula Motorsport/Avid Motorsport entry. He won the first two rounds of the season March 13-14 at Sebring International Raceway.

Sloan Urry, from Park City, Utah, qualified third at 1:27.976 in the No. 20 JDX Racing 911 GT3 Cup car. Jesse Lazare, 16, from Montreal, qualified fourth at 1:28.238 in the No. 31 Door Doctor/Moorespeed entry.

Colin Thompson rounded out a top five of young rising talents with his lap of 1:28.310 in the No. 14 Kelly Moss Motorsports Porsche. Thompson, from Doylestown, Pa., finished second in both rounds at Sebring.

Kasey Kuhlman, from Cincinnati, was the top Platinum Masters (age 45 and older) qualifier at 1:28.321 in the No. 15 Wright Motorsports entry, good for sixth overall. Paul Barnhart Jr., from Houston, won the pole for the Gold and Gold Masters classes with his lap of 1:30.148 in the No. 17 Kelly Moss Motorsports entry. Barnhart is making his first start of the season.

Two 45-minute races are scheduled for Sunday on the 11-turn, 2.238-mile circuit. Race 1 will start at 9 a.m. (PT), with Race 2 at 5:15 p.m.

For more information about Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, visit www.imsa.com, follow hashtag #GT3USA @IMSA on Twitter or IMSA on Facebook.

QUALIFYING RESULTS | STARTING LINEUP

POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:

MICHAEL LEWIS (Pole, Platinum Cup, No. 98 Competition Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian): "The car is really good. We're sitting at the top of the charts, and the car helped me do that. Awesome last lap, that's really all I can say. We had to do the last minute, and everyone was fighting for some track space. I had to fight for every inch of the track and luckily I could do it on the last lap. We were hoping to start in the first two rows, at least, so it's icing on the cake to be first. It was a good effort by the team, and we just threw it down on the last lap. I was just trying to improve mentally on what I was doing before, a little bit of self-coaching on that last lap."

KASEY KUHLMAN (Pole, Platinum Masters, No. 15 Wright Motorsports): "We have done a lot of work on the car this weekend to get it neutral for a long run. We maybe gave up the tiniest bit in terms of ultimate speed, but it is a really, really neutral car and is going to be great for the long run. It felt good qualifying it. No drama, and we accomplished our goal at Wright Motorsports. We wanted to be in the top five. P6 overall; we will take that. We made normal adjustments for the cooler temperatures but nothing dramatic. We knew the track was going to be fast, so we weren't surprised to see the times put up. And things played out just like we had hoped."

PAUL BARNHART JR. (Pole, Gold Cup, Gold Masters, No. 17 Kelly Moss Motorsports): "I'm pretty happy with today's performance and starting on the pole. The team made a few changes to the car this morning, and it was perfect. I'm really happy to be back in the 997. I tried the 991 in the Sebring test and didn't get along with it so well. So I'm really happy to be back in the Gold class, where I really belong. We made changes for the temperature today, and it all worked perfectly. Tire pressures, etc. The car worked really well and was that way through the whole qualifying session. I got my quick lap on the last lap of the session. Everything is shaping up for a good run tomorrow."

Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama

The IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama enters its 10th season in North America as the one of Porsche's largest single-make Cup Challenge series in the world. The series produces intense, exciting competition for semi-professional and aspiring professional drivers in one of the world's most successful and iconic race cars, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Racing is divided into two classes - Platinum Cup, featuring the new 2014 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, which is based in on the current seventh generation of the street car, and Gold Cup, which is comprised of the previous version (2010-2013) of the race car. The series is the perfect platform for aspiring drivers to ascend to the highest levels of GT competition, such as the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The series races at classic American road courses, providing thrills for drivers and fans.

IMSA

The International Motor Sports Association, LLC (IMSA) is the sanctioning body of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the road-racing series resulting from the merger of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. IMSA also sanctions two developmental series, the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda, as well as four single-make series: Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama; Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin; Ferrari Challenge North America; and Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America. IMSA is the exclusive strategic partner in North America with the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) which operates the 24 Hours of Le Mans as a part of the FIA World Endurance Championship. The partnership enables selected TUDOR United SportsCar Championship competitors to earn automatic entries into the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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