Blackdog Speed Shop’s Michael Cooper was able to get past pole sitter Drew Staveley and held on to take his first victory of 2020 Sunday at Circuit of the Americas. It is Cooper’s fifth GT4 America Sprint overall victory since the beginning of 2019.
Staveley won the pole for Race No. 2 by virtue of having the fastest lap in Saturday’s race. When the green flag fell, Staveley was able to hold off the pack, but was unable to pull away from the field. Similar to Saturday’s race, there was a small pack at the front of the field that ran off and left everyone else in the dust. Behind Staveley was Cooper, The Racers Group’s Spencer Pumpelly and Andretti Autosport’s Jarret Andretti.
Cooper continued to harass Staveley as long as he could. Just before halfway, Cooper made a move for the lead exiting Turn 15. The two drivers ran side-by-side all the way through Turn 19 before Staveley was able to re-assume the advantage. However, Cooper was able to get another run on the Mustang driver exiting Turn 20 and made the pass for the lead stick in Turn 1 at the top of the hill.
Shortly after Cooper took the lead, the caution flew due to Mark Klenin stalling his SIN R1 GT4 in the Esses. The yellow was out for only one lap as Klenin’s No. 62 was quickly removed from the track.
When the green came back out, Cooper was able to get a good jump on Staveley and pull out to a decent advantage. Meanwhile, Andretti got past Pumpelly for third and pressured Staveley for second.
Another yellow for Staveley’s teammate Frank Gannett crashing the No. 24 Ford Mustang GT4 into the Tec-Pro barrier in the Esses closed the pack up for one final four-lap sprint to the finish. Gannett was ok, but rather disgusted with himself.
While Cooper opened up a gap on the restart, Staveley, Andretti and Pumpelly fought hard for second. Andretti was able to make the move on the run to Turn 12 after the restart and the three drivers fought hard to the finish. That allowed Cooper to pull away and take the win.
The margin of victory was 1.743 seconds over Andretti, while Staveley was third. Pumpelly was fourth, while Fast Track Racing’s Toby Grahovec was fifth.
In the Am class, Rearden Racing’s Paul Terry started from the class pole and led early in his Aston Martin. Terry’s car had a transponder issue for most of the weekend, which caused issues for timing and scoring. That said, he had the similar Aston Martin of Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Michael Dinan on his tail for the entire first half of the race.
After the first caution, Dinan was able to get a run on Terry and got by him for the class lead exiting Turn 1 on the restart. On the final restart, Dinan was able to pull out a good lead on Terry’s No. 59. That lead went away on the final lap. Terry was able to run down Dinan and make a move for the lead in the final turn. The two drivers then drag raced to the line with Terry just beating Dinan there by a nose to take his first victory in a GT4 car.
Behind the two Aston Martins was Tony Gaples third in the second Blackdog Speed Shop McLaren. Jeff Burton was fourth in the second Rearden Racing Aston Martin, while Sean Quinlan was fifth in the Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M4 GT4.
Pirelli GT4 America Sprint teams won’t have much time to rest. They’ll be back in action next weekend on the undercard of the NTT IndyCar Series season opener in St. Petersburg, Fla. Round No. 3 of the 16 round championship is scheduled for Saturday, March 14.
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