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May 05, 2014 - 10:02 AM
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Lewis Finishes Successful Homecoming Sweep
Posted by: newsla on May 05, 2014 - 09:58 AM
Sports Cars
Lewis Finishes Successful Homecoming Sweep


California native Michael Lewis completed a dream weekend in his first event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, winning both Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama races from the pole Sunday, May 4.

 

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2014 IMSA Scholarship winner Lewis, from Laguna Beach, California, never trailed in both 45-minute races in the No. 98 Competition Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. He made his first career starts at the iconic Northern California circuit after spending the last three seasons in elite Formula 3 open-wheel racing in Europe.

"We swept the weekend, and that is even cooler at a home race," Lewis said. "I feel right at home here, honestly. But, yeah, I've literally just been here these three days. So it's pretty special and pretty cool."


Kasey Kuhlman, Michael Lewis, Colin Thompson
Kasey Kuhlman, from Cincinnati, also completed a sweep of Platinum Masters competition in the No. 15 Wright Motorsports entry. He finished third overall in Race 2 and fourth in Race 1.

"In qualifying this week, one of our coaches asked me how I did in class," Kuhlman said. "I said: 'Class? I'm racing overall, brother.' And I just podiumed for the first time in three years, P3 overall. I'm ecstatic. It was a great drive. I really concentrated, hit my marks and made no mistakes."

Race 2 was the final event of the IMSA sports car racing weekend on the 11-turn, 2.238-mile circuit, and the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama field sent the fans home happy after an event-filled race. Lewis held on to the win by .754 of a second over fellow young star Colin Thompson in the No. 14 Kelly Moss Motorsports Porsche.


David Ducote, Kasey Kuhlman, David Calvert-Jones
Thompson, from Doylestown, Pa., climbed to second and Kuhlman took over third on a restart with seven minutes remaining when Angel Benitez Jr. spun out of second place in Turn 2 in the No. 05 Formula Motorsport/Avid Motorsport entry. Benitez, who won the first two rounds of the season in March at Sebring, ended up seventh in Race 2.

Three of the top-five overall finishers in Race 2 were Platinum Masters (age 45 and older) drivers. Besides Kuhlman, David Calvert-Jones finished fourth in the No. 12 Competition Motorsports entry, with David Ducote fifth in a Kelly Moss Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.


Patrick-Otto Madsen, Fred Poordad, Michael Levitas
Fred Poordad was the top finisher in the Gold Cup and Gold Masters classes in the No. 02 Competition Motorsports entry, placing ninth overall. Poordad, from San Antonio, Texas, also earned the Yokohama Hard Charger Award in Race 2 after climbing from 21st starting position to finish ninth overall.

Michael Levitas was second in Gold and Gold Masters in the No. 35 TPC Racing Porsche, with Sebring class winner Patrick-Otto Madsen third in Gold Cup in the No. 99 ANSA Motorsports entry. Paul Barnhart Jr. was third in Gold Masters in the No. 17 Kelly Moss Motorsports Porsche.

Lewis led the entire way in Race 1, but the victory didn't come without drama. Series rookie Lewis stayed out front on two restarts after full-course cautions, including the final-lap shootout. Sloan Urry tried to pull inside Lewis heading over the crest of Turn 1, but Lewis kept his advantage entering the hairpin Turn 2 and pulled away on the final lap to win by 1.050 seconds over Urry.


Paul Barnhart, Fred Poordad, Michael Levitas
finished third in the No. 31 Door Doctor Moorespeed Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. It was the first series podium finish for series rookie Lazare, 16, from Montreal.

The top three Platinum Masters finishers in Race 1 were Kuhlman (fourth overall), Calvert-Jones (seventh overall) and Javier Quiros (eighth overall) in the No. 27 NGT Motorsport entry.

Levitas claimed top honors in Gold Cup and Gold Masters. Madsen was second in Gold Cup, followed by Barnhart in third. Barnhart was the second-finishing Gold Masters competitor, and Poordad was third in Gold Masters.

David Williams
David Williams won the Yokohama Hard Charger Award for Race 1, as he finished 16th after starting 22nd in the No. 37 TPC Racing entry.

The next two Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama rounds are May 23-24 at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut.

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.

RACE 2 POST-RACE QUOTES:

MICHAEL LEWIS (Winner, No. 98 Competition Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian): "It was a really cool race. There was a short (caution) period, but basically no yellows. It forced me to drive as hard as I could drive, every lap. Even the guy in second, (Angel) Benitez, was driving hard, too. Really nice battle. He lost it at that last restart, and that's unfortunate for him. But I kept my nose clean. I did what I had to do just to haul ass and bring it home. Really good job to the team, making this car happy for me to drive. No complaints. It's a really good job to them. And we swept the weekend, and that is even cooler at a home race. I feel right at home here, honestly. But, yeah, I've literally just been here these three days. So it's pretty special and pretty cool."

COLIN THOMPSON (Second, No. 14 Kelly Moss Motorsports): "I had a way better second race. I had a starting position higher up, so that helped in the long run. But at the end of the day, this crew worked to just put together a really good car. How they set it up worked a little better in the afternoon than in the morning. We had a great car, and I really didn't have to do much. Sloan (Urry) spun for me, Angel (Benitez) spun for me, and that made it a little easier. It's hard to pass on this track. So once I went from fourth to second, I just tried to hold my position and keep Kasey (Kuhlman) off my tail. Unfortunately, Michael (Lewis) just had a little bit more than we had, and I couldn't catch him. But we were right there, and that puts us in a great position for Lime Rock."

KASEY KUHLMAN (Third, first Platinum Masters, No. 15 Wright Motorsports): "In qualifying this week, one of our coaches asked me how I did in class. I said: 'Class? I'm racing overall, brother.' And I just podiumed for the first time in three years, P3 overall. I'm ecstatic. It was a great drive. I really concentrated, hit my marks and made no mistakes. That's really the key here, and I couldn't be happier leaving Laguna with an overall third place. The track seemed a little more slippery toward the middle to end of the race than it was this morning. So my car was a little tougher to drive and just required more driving adjustments later. It sounds silly but my helmet blower wasn't working, so it got really hot in there compared to how I usually drive. So focus was key, and I just feel great about the day."

DAVID CALVERT-JONES (Second Platinum Masters, No. 12 Competition Motorsport): "It was pretty crazy at the start. I'm not sure what happened. I think there was somebody in front of me that sort of pushed someone across into the wall, so that was real scary. I was just lucky that everyone got through it safely. And then I just wanted to drive a clean race and ended up being by myself. There was no one for 10 seconds behind me. Then we got the late yellow, so that bunched us back up. That gave me the chance to get a few more spots up, and it was a good race. All in all, I'm lucky to bring the car home in one piece without running off. I just wanted to drive a clean, safe race."

DAVID DUCOTE (Third Platinum Masters, No. 6 Kelly Moss Motorsports): "It was a tough race, and I had some pressure from a couple of different guys. I just held it steady and didn't make any mistakes. I just worked at and worked at it, and overall it was a good result. The weekend was good. This track isn't one of my best tracks, and I'm still kind of learning the 911 and the subtleties of it, so it was a good overall weekend of competition."

FRED POORDAD (First Gold Cup, first Gold Masters, Yokohama Hard Charger Award, No. 02 Competition Motorsports): "I got a much better start in this race compared to Race 1. I started P4 in class and held my own. Through the course of the race, we had a lot of lead changes, so it was pretty exciting. We had a couple of yellows, a lot of side-to-side action going on. It was just a tremendous race overall. I can't thank Competition Motorsports enough. They put a great car under me that performed perfectly. I even had tires left at the end of the race. The crew and Bob Faietaand company made it fantastic. I couldn't be happier to do this for Competition Motorsports."

MICHAEL LEVITAS (Second Gold Cup, second Gold Cup Masters, No. 35 TPC Racing): "The last 10 minutes was pure excitement. It was like playing a checker game. I've never changed positions so many times in a race. It was just great. It was really great. I had great competitors, and we all worked together for a clean, safe race. I've never seen that many position changes, but that was good. That was one of the most exciting races I've seen in a while. Focus is key. It's pretty simple: If you miss just the simplest thing, it's over. So you're just forced to stay there."

PATRICK-OTTO MADSEN (Third Gold Cup, No. 99 ANSA Motorsports): "It was one of the most exciting GT3 races of this year and last year. I was pushing as hard as I could in the beginning. I was leading the Gold guys for a while, and I was pushing up toward a few Platinum cars. Once (Angel) Benitez got by, some of the other Gold cars started catching up to me really quickly. At the end, the track got really slick and slippery, and we just had to keep it going. Mike Levitas and (Fred) Poordad had a little bit better traction coming out of (Turn) 11, and they got me. All around, an exciting race. Overall I'm really happy to finish the weekend with a second and third place and looking forward to the next race in Lime Rock to keep it going."

PAUL BARNHART JR. (Third Gold Cup Masters, No. 17 Kelly Moss Motorsports): "First of all, there was a car that stalled on the grid, and they gave my grid position up to another Gold car, which put me behind her on the start. So I lost two positions right away because I lost my grid position. I got around her and chasing (Patrick-Otto) Madsen and finally caught back up with him. I had a great race with him, and it could have really gone either way. Overall, it was a very successful weekend. We made a few changes to the car. And my car was working better toward the end of the race than the cars in front of me. I passed three cars on the last two laps just to get to the podium. It was running perfectly, and I think we would have made an even bigger jump had it gone green."

RACE 1 POST-RACE QUOTES:

MICHAEL LEWIS (Winner, No. 98 Competition Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian): "I knew there was going to be a restart even though there was a pretty long yellow, so I was prepping for that the whole time, and I didn't really think much of it. I just had my game plan and executed it and it ended up being OK. Turn 1 is really the place to protect, and I was OK from there and just needed to manage my pace. My car was super hooked up, and Competition Motorsports put a good package together, super clean, no failures. It was just a good package overall, and I managed to stay on track to go fast."

SLOAN URRY (Second, No. 20 JDX Racing): "We worked really, really hard on the No. 20 GT3 cup car all weekend. We were dealing with a lot of crazy, different dynamics with the car in each session. We threw a couple of changes at it. My engineer did an incredible job giving me a consistent car through the whole run. We had a little trouble. It was a little tight around Turn 2, but then I was able to regain a couple of my spots. Running second for a while, chasing down Michael (Lewis). He was super fast. We did all we could to stay with him, and unfortunately we got a little untimely with the yellows. It's a good finish for some points. When I was coming around for the green (on final restart), I felt something a little strange in my car. I picked some of that dirt up in the 'Corkscrew.' I think I got some rocks in my rotors. I was a little conscious coming in. I didn't want my race to end on the last lap when I only had one position I could gain, so I played it a little bit conservative on the last lap, in all honesty, to make sure I held on to my position. If something came up, I was going to take it, but we're happy to finish where we did."

JESSE LAZARE (Third, No. 31 Door Doctor/Moorespeed): "We knew going into the race we had the car set up for the second half of the race. We weren't expecting such a long yellow, so we didn't get as much with having the car ready for the end of the race. But I held in there, and I pushed. The last few laps were really good; the last lap was solid. I'm happy with the result. I knew maybe the first two would maybe fight it out and I might have a shot, but they played it smart and didn't let me."

KASEY KUHLMAN (First Platinum Masters, No. 15 Wright Motorsports): "My game plan was to just stay with the leaders. I started in sixth, and I wanted to stay there or better through the first couple of laps, and I was successful in that. I had a good pace, and I had a great car. I was running P4 when that last caution came out. I did not want that yellow flag. I think I would have had an overall podium if we would have stayed green, but that's the way it goes. I just kept the car under me that last lap. The challenge with the green-white finish is to not make a mistake. You can't slip or open the door anywhere, or everybody's going to dive underneath you. I left the door open on (Turn) 5, and a guy snuck under me, but I got back under him there at (Turn) 11 at the end to take it, so it was very exciting. But it's not what I wanted. If I could have the same race right now, I would take it."

DAVID CALVERT-JONES (Second Platinum Masters, No. 12 Competition Motorsport): "The race was competitive. I got hit in Turn 4 on the first lap from behind. I could see the guys scrapping in front of me, and I just wanted to get the car home in one piece."

JAVIER QUIROS (Third Platinum Masters, No. 27 NGT Motorsport): "Today I started in ninth place and had plans A, B, C, D, E and F ready to go. But plan A worked pretty good. I wanted to get in line going in to Turn 3, and that happened. After that, the second two laps I just wanted to warm up the car and start making movements. It was close at the end, but I'm happy to be on the podium."

MICHAEL LEVITAS (First Gold Cup, Gold Cup Masters, No. 35 TPC Racing): "Great race, fantastic. The TPC Racing Porsche was outstanding. The guys did an amazing job on the setup. It was great through (Turns) 3 and 4 and just killer through 9 and 10. And the competition was just off the charts. I had to run every lap with no mistakes. We were within a second the entire race. It was just absolute mayhem. I would work so hard to make up that one-second and boom, we'd have to restart and I was like just crying, but it was a great race. Thanks to the competitors and IMSA for putting on such a great race."

PATRICK-OTTO MADSEN (Second Gold Cup, No. 99 ANSA Motorsports): "The field was really tight. I was able to pick off Kristin Treager in Turn 1. She had a slow drive out of that corner, so I picked her off. After that, I pretty much sat in third place for most of the race. On the last restart, I really wanted to pick up another position, but even before Turn 11, I had a little jump there and I picked up another position. So I'm pretty happy with the finish. It was a drag race finish, great race for me. I'm pretty happy. Started fourth, finished second. I just need to keep my head on straight for the rest of the season, but I definitely like the points."

PAUL BARNHART JR. (Third Gold Cup, second Gold Cup Masters, No. 17 Kelly Moss Motorsports): "It was a good, clean race. We lost a position on the start but ran a real strong second and reeled the leader back in in Gold and then the full-course yellow came out. I got passed on the restart again and lost two positions on both starts. But it was a good, clean race. Everybody in my class races very clean and aggressively. It was a great race."

FRED POORDAD (Third Gold Cup Masters, No. 02 Competition Motorsport): "I had a pretty poor start, actually. I lost several places by Turn 2 of the first lap. But I bounced back and got myself in a good position, trying to overtake the 89 car coming out of Turn 6. He got squirrely, and I tapped my brakes and spun there, losing a position to the car 52. It was a battle for the last lap. I can't be terribly disappointed with podium in Gold Masters.

DAVID WILLIAMS (Yokohama Hard Charger Award, No. 37 TPC Racing): "I had a great start. Right on the outside was wide open, and I probably made up five spots on the start. I was running just consistent after that. It was a great race."

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.

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