While Muscle Milk Pickett Racing and Level 5 Motorsports cruised to victory in P1 and P2, it was BAR1 Motorsports that broke through for top honors Prototype Challenge in Saturday’s American Le Mans Series race at Circuit of The Americas.
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Kyle Marcelli and Chris Cumming combined to give the Brian Alder-led squad (pictured, center) its long-awaited maiden win, in a race that showed dominant form and a trouble-free race from the pair of Canadian drivers.
Marcelli took over the lead early in the second hour and never looked back, cruising to a 24-second victory over the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca FLM09 of Dane Cameron in second.
“It was a perfect race for us,” Marcelli said. “It ran green the entire race, Chris drove perfect laps, the team executed perfect pit stops and I had it fairly easy at the end.
“You gotta bring your ‘A game’ to win the races. All season long we’ve shown the speed to do it. Our reliability has been really good. It’s just been little mistakes in each race that cost us. This was a mistake-free race and it paid off.”
Cameron’s runner-up finish was good enough for co-driver Mike Guasch to re-take the championship lead.
The title-contending No. 05 CORE autosport entry of Tom Kimber-Smith and Jon Bennett finished third but was penalized after IMSA deemed to have found an illegal modification on its car. As a result, the car has lost its points from the race but will keep a third place finish.
Up front, Muscle Milk Pickett Racing scored its seventh P1 victory of the season, with Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf taking a two-lap victory over the No. 16 Dyson Racing Lola B12/60 Mazda of Chris McMurry and Tony Burgess in second.
Finishing third and fourth overall were the pair of Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-03b cars, which scored a dominant 1-2 result in P2.
Scott Tucker and Ryan Briscoe took the team’s No. 551 car to class victory, rebounding from the start-line melee at Baltimore which destroyed its original chassis.
It ended up being a good points day for Level 5, as the championship-contending No. 01 Extreme Speed Motorsports entry, one of six cars to start from the rear of the field due to a qualifying miscue, finished fourth after suffering multiple spins.
The final step of the P2 podium went to ESM’s No. 02 HPD of Johannes van Overbeek and Ed Brown.
Thanks to the win, Tucker has regained third place in the title chase, two points ahead of ESM’s Scott Sharp.
The Level 5 team owner now trails teammate Marino Franchitti, who finished second with Guy Cosmo, by 12 points heading into next month’s Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway.