Robby Foley survived a late race restart to take victory in the Michelin Pilot Challenge Fox Factory 120 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, while Nate Stacy and Kyle Marcelli consolidated their championship lead.
The Turner Motorsports team used pit strategy to get the No. 96 BMW M4 GT4 started by Vince Barletta to the lead in an event that was punctuated by multiple lengthy caution periods.
The race came down to a six-minute shootout following the fourth and final full curse caution of the race, brought out by an accident involving the No. 23 FASTMD Racing with Speed Syndicate Audi RS 3 LMS TCR.
When the restart came, Foley fended off the charge of Eric Foss in the No. 56 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4, who was then passed on the following lap by BimmerWorld Racing’s Greg Liefooghe.
Foley managed to build a small gap and ultimately crossed the line 0.794 seconds ahead of Liefooghe to take the win, which marked the first in Pilot Challenge competition for his co-driver Barletta.
Robin Liddell charged from sixth on the restart to take the final podium position in his Rebel Rock Racing Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R that started at the rear of the GS field after a differential problem in qualifying for Frank DePew.
Championship leaders Marcelli and Stacy, meanwhile, brought their KohR Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage GT4 home in sixth, but saw their points lead grow due to problems for their closest championship rivals.
That crucial moment in the championship battle came when the third Full Course Yellow came out with 45 minutes remaining for a heavy accident involving the No. 73 LA Honda World Honda Civic Type R TCR of Mat Pombo.
Pombo’s car wound up buried in the Turn 1 tire wall which prompted a safety car intervention and a closure of the pit lane, which crucially occurred before Tyler McQuarrie had turned the No. 39 CarBahn with Peregrine Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4 over to co-driver Jeff Westphal.
By the time the pit lane opened and the driver change occurred, the clock had already ticked down to under 40 minutes remaining, meaning Westphal was unable to meet the 40-minute minimum drive time required of all drivers.
As a consequence, the car by rule was scored at the back of the class in 22nd. When this became apparent, the team elected to retire from the race with just over 15 minutes remaining.
McQuarrie and Westphal entered the weekend second in points and trailed leaders Marcelli and Stacy by just seven points.
The Mercedes-AMG of Foss and Winward Racing’s Nico Bastian completed the top five in the GS class.
Over half of the two-hour-long race was run under the safety car, which was necessitated by several heavy accidents.
Alan Brynjolfsson’s crash 13 minutes into the race, which collected Scott Maxwell, set the tone for what was to come.
Three of the four yellows came due to accidents, with the third brought out by the stranded No. 85 AOA Racing TCR-class Audi of Gino Manley.
All drivers involved in the accidents either drove away on their own or were checked and released by the on-site medical staff.
Lewis Holds off Maxson for TCR Win
Michael Lewis and Bryan Herta Autosport took a hard-fought TCR class victory in a race that saw the class lead swap hands between the pair of Hyundai Veloster N TCR runners multiple times in the final laps.
Lewis lost the lead to the 16-year-old Tyler Maxson, who along with his co-driver Tyler Gonzalez was making his series debut, but rallied to take the spot back on the next tour of the Road Atlanta circuit.
Lewis managed to keep Maxson behind despite a furious challenge on the white flag lap. The final margin of victory was 0.099 seconds as the two cars crossed under the checkered flag nose to tail.
Lewis and Mason Filippi have vaulted to the top of the TCR standings following the win, which was their second of the year.
Their championship hopes were bolstered when their teammates and erstwhile points leaders Gabby Chaves and Ryan Norman were sidetracked by suspension damage just past the halfway mark. They were forced to settle for an 11th place finish.
Bryan Henderson and Todd Lamb overcame a drive-through penalty at the start of the race to complete the class podium for Atlanta Speedwerks in the No. 84 Honda Civic Type R TCR, with the No. 84 BHA Hyundai of Harry Gottsacker and Mark Wilkins and the LA Honda World pairing of Ryan Eversley and Taylor Hagler coming home fourth and fifth.
RESULTS: Fox Factory 120