With under 36 minutes to go, JDC-Miller MotorSports’ Stephen Simpson took advantage of a battle for the lead between Acura Team Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya and Wayne Taylor Racing’s Jordan Taylor to sweep into the lead from third with this move.
From there, Simpson had to deal with lapped traffic getting in the way. Montoya got to his rear bumper, but could not stay with the “Red Dragon” as Simpson managed to hold on to win the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
“I have to credit the crew,” Simpson said after the race. “We had a great pit stop and [great] Continental tires. We decided not to change tires at that stop. We thought we could get a good stint and a half out of the tires. We had a quicker stop, which enabled me to start [up front].”
“I had a better run up out of turn 1,” Simpson continued. “I saw the Penske car and [Taylor] going at it nicely and they slowed each other down just enough. I got a good run and…I think I was on the grass a little bit, but I wasn’t going to let off. That was the moment [to shine].”
CORE autosport’s Colin Braun won the pole on Saturday, but the team chose to switch to team owner Jon Bennett for the start so that he could get his minimum drive-time. As a result, the team fell back to the end of the Prototype class for the start. That put Di Resta on pole, but Montoya got the jump on him and took the lead at the start.
Tequila Patron ESM had issues in last year’s race and Sunday was worse. On the first lap, contact between Action Express Racing’s Felipe Nasr and Spirit of Daytona Racing’s Tristan Vautier sent Vautier spinning in the Esses in front of much of the field. Both of the Nissan DPis locked up their brakes. Ryan Dalziel did a half spin, then hit Vautier and spun himself out. Meanwhile, Pipo Derani slid into the Armco.
While both Nissan DPis continued after the crash, their days were effectively over. The No. 22 only made eight laps before retiring, while the No. 2 stalled in the Inner Loop early in the second hour. They ended up as the last two cars in the finishing order (41st and 42nd).
Much of the race was dominated by the two Acura ARX-05s. United Autosports could keep pace with the No. 6 Acura, but was in a situation where they could only win via fuel mileage. CORE autosport was in the hunt as well once Bennett got his drive-time completed. The No. 7 Acura of Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor had gearbox issues in the third hour that dropped them five laps down.
With 51 minutes remaining, Magnus Racing’s Andy Lally blew a tire and littered the track with debris, bringing out the fourth and final full course yellow. Everyone pitted for their final stop. Jordan Taylor won the race off pit road, but Simpson swept past less than half a lap after the restart.
CORE autosport’s Romain Dumas was just able to nip Montoya at the line for second. United Autosports’ Ligier for Paul Di Resta, Phil Hanson and Bruno Senna was fourth, while Taylor and Renger van der Zande held on for fifth.
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing IMSA, and specifically the No. 67 had dominated GT Le Mans all weekend. At first, the race was similar.
Richard Westbrook led from the class pole and easily paced the field. The No. 67 led the first 65 laps of the race (more than one-third of the race) before Porsche GT Team’s Patrick Pilet was able to get past. The No. 67 ultimately faded and finished a lap down in sixth. Thus started a period in which the Porsche was dominant. Later on, Corvette Racing showed their muscle as well.
During the final round of stops, Dirk Müller in the No. 66 Ford won the race off of pit road to claim the class lead. From there, Müller was able to hold to take his and teammate Joey Hand‘s first win of the year.
The margin was just under 1.6 seconds back to Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen in second. Porsche GT Team’s Pilet and Nick Tandy were third, followed by Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor in the second Porsche. Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner in the second Corvette were fifth.
The GT Daytona class was a feud for much of the race between Meyer Shank Racing’s No. 86 Acura and 3GT Racing’s No. 15 Lexus. Meyer Shank Racing’s No. 93 for Lawson Aschenbach and Justin Marks was also in contention, but the team was forced to withdraw in the third hour after sustaining suspension damage. Ultimately, Acura prevailed over Lexus.
Later in the race, the Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi of Christopher Mies and Sheldon van der Linde assumed control. They had every bit of the pace necessary to win, but they made one crucial error. The team worked on the No. 29 in a closed pit. That led to a penalty. At the time, it was a stop and 60 second hold, which amounts to roughly a full lap at Watkins Glen.
Montaplast by Land-Motorsport chose not to serve the penalty right away and spent significant time discussing the penalty with officials via a private message protocol. The discussion did not going anywhere as the officials levied an additional drive-through penalty to the No. 29 for failing to serve the initial penalty within four laps. At that point, the team had van der Linde pull the car back into the paddock with 13 minutes remaining. The team was credited with a 13th-place finish in class.
Van der Linde’s misfortune put the race in the hands of Meyer Shank Racing’s Àlvaro Parente. Behind him was Turner Motorsport’s Markus Palttala. Prior to van der Linde pulling in, Palttala was able to pass Parente with just under 27 minutes to go.
Once van der Linde pulled off the track, Palttala inherited a 1.7 second lead. He held that to the finish to claim the win.
Parente and Katherine Legge ended up second. After the race, Parente noted that the Acura was down a little bit on speed on the day, but strategy and pace helped them earn a good finish. With the finish, Legge closes to within one point of the GT Daytona points lead.
Paul Miller Racing’s Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow were third in their Lamborghini, followed by 3GT Racing’s No. 15 for Dominik Farnbacher, Jack Hawksworth and David Heinemeier Hansson. Riley Motorsports’ Jeroen Bleekemolen, Ben Keating and Luca Stolz were fifth in their Mercedes.
All three classes will be back in action next weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park for the Mobil 1 Sportscar Grand Prix. The race is scheduled to go green shortly after 1 p.m. EDT. It will be aired on FOX Sports 1 via tape delay at 4 p.m.