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Prototype Challenge

Rao, Bell Win Road Atlanta Season Finale to Clinch Title

Naveen Rao, Matt Bell win final round of season to clinch IMSA Prototype Challenge title…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

Naveen Rao and Matt Bell clinched the IMSA Prototype Challenge drivers’ championship with victory in the final round of the season at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. 

The drivers of the No. 64 K2R Motorsports Norma M30 Nissan lapped the field midway into Friday’s three-hour race, before Bell survived handling issues and a late restart to win by 2.776 seconds from fellow K2R drivers Steven Thomas and Thomas Merrill.

Bell benefited from lapped traffic between him and Merrill on the final restart with just under six minutes to go, which enabled the British driver to notch his and Rao’s second win in the last three races and their fifth podium out of six events held this season.

Like Bell, Merrill struggled with his car’s handling late in the race and left little opportunity to bid for the overall win.

Despite finishing second, Merrill’s teammate Thomas secured the Bronze Cup drivers’ title with a class race win.

Brothers Keith and David Grant entered the final weekend with an 11-point lead in Bronze Cup, but they weren’t eligible for class points on Friday since Silver-rated driver Parker Thompson was added as a third driver in the No. 40 Forty7 Motorsports Norma.

Third place overall in the season finale went to Scott Andrews and Gerry Kraut’s No. 9 JDC MotorSports Norma, which was the only other car to finish on the lead lap.

In fourth was the No. 47 Forty7 Norma of Jon Brownson and Wyatt Schwab, while Stephen Simpson and Cameron Cassels completed the top five with their Performance Tech Motorsports-prepared Ligier JS P3 Nissan.

Dakota Dickerson, who was Rao and Bell’s main title rival heading into Road Atlanta, finished sixth with his MLT Motorsports co-driver Dom Cicero.

RESULTS: Race / Championship Points (Provisional)

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