Saturday’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Continental Tire 120 at the Glen was very unusual by anyone’s standards. Due to three full course yellows and a red flag due to lightning, only 43 laps (146.2 miles) were complete. KohR Motorsports’ Dean Martin had contact in the Esses on the final lap with Automatic Racing’s Al Carter. Carter was able to regain control without hitting anything, but that was all Martin needed to get past. From there, Martin pulled away to take his and teammate Jack Roush Jr.‘s first win of 2017.
Afterwards, Martin was very happy with his Ford Mustang GT4.
“The Mustang was just rock solid today,” Martin said after the race. “The balance was just perfect. The aero balance was great. The suspension was fantastic. I can’t say enough about the car.”
Despite the excellent Mustang GT4, strategy almost cost Martin and Roush victory. 30 minutes into the race, precipitation arrived at Watkins Glen International and dumped all over the track. Pole-sitter, Paul Holton, chose to stay out, but Roush decided to pit for rain tires. While the move did keep Roush out of the tire barriers, it did put him quite a ways back. Kensai/DXDT Racing’s David Askew crashed his ST class Porsche Cayman exiting Turn 1 and drew a full course caution shortly after Roush’s stop. Normally, this would have been a good thing.
However, the red flag was thrown for lightning before the pits opened. By the time it was lifted, the rain was gone and the sun was back out.
When the red was displayed, the rain was already starting to ease up. Knowing that the Glen tends to dry quickly, many teams chose to stay on their slick tires. That put Roush down the order a bit.
C360R’s No. 76, now with Matt Plumb at the wheel, led until he had an off-course excursion with 10 minutes to go in the Inner Loop. That allowed Carter, still on the slicks that the No. 99 Aston Martin started the race, to take the lead. Martin moved up through the pack and was in the right place at the right time to make the move.
Martin and Roush’s margin of victory was 5.513 seconds over C360R’s No. 77 McLaren for Matthew Keegan and Nico Rondet. This result was despite Keegan sliding wide in the rain under caution and hitting TeamTGM’s Hugh Plumb. The No. 76 McLaren of Holton and Matt Plumb was third, followed by the Bodymotion Porsche of Cameron Cassels and Trent Hindman. TeamTGM’s No. 46 Porsche of Guy Cosmo and team owner Ted Giovanis was fifth. Carter and teammate Steven Phillips dropped all the way to seventh after the last-lap contact.
In Street Tuner, Murillo Racing’s Jeff Mosing led early on despite stiffness from a big Porsche GT3 Cup crash on Friday. However, the wet weather played right into the hands of MINI JCW Team. Last year, the duo of Derek Jones and Mat Pombo won the ST pole at Watkins Glen in the rain. On Saturday, the race brought out the MINI beast.
Jones qualified the No. 73 MINI in second, but dropped back on the first lap. As a result, the first 30 minutes were spent playing catch-up. By the time the rains came, Jones had already gotten back up to third. After pit stops, Mat Pombo was able to get past Murillo Racing’s Eric Foss and pull out a decent lead on the way to the victory.
MINI JCW Team earned their first-ever one-two finish as the No. 52 MINI of Mark Pombo and Jared Salinsky finished second. Mosing and Foss were third, followed by Freedom Autosport’s Andrew Carbonell and Liam Dwyer. The No. 37 of Mike LaMarra and James Vance finished fifth despite LaMarra stopping on the frontstretch briefly in the first couple of laps of the race.
The IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge will be back in action on Saturday, Jul. 8 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Ontario for another two-hour sprint race.