Kris Wright opened up a 23-point lead with a win in the penultimate IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda race of the season on Saturday.
The Extreme Speed Motorsports driver shared his Ligier JS P3 with Stephen Simpson in his first race of the season with a co-driver to set himself up with a comfortable lead heading into the finale.
They finished just 1.567 seconds in the lead after the one-hour, 45-minute race at Virginia International Raceway, ahead of ANSA Motorsports’ Zach Robichon and Dean Baker.
It continued Wright’s podium finish streak in every race this year, while he hasn’t finished worse than second since the Sebring race in March.
The ESM pair were the first to take wet weather tires, giving up a seven-second lead, shortly into the race when conditions began to worsen.
Championship rival Forty7 Motorsports elected to keep Austin McCusker and the No. 47 Norma M30 on track with slicks, although the strategy call allowed Wright to eventually pass for the lead.
McCusker then gave the car over to TJ Fischer but the team was later issued a one-minute penalty for a short pit stop, resulting in a sixth-place finish.
Second-place Robichon added the result to his Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama win from earlier in the day, while Baker picked up the Masters win as well.
K2R Motorsports completed the podium with its Ligier driven by Rob Hodes and Scott Andrews, meanwhile.
French Scores Second Consecutive MPC Win
A last-lap pass on Mikel Miller gave James French his second MPC class win in a row alongside Howard Jacobs in the No. 77 Performance Tech Motorsports Elan DP02.
Robert and Kyle Masson looked set for the class honors with an almost one-lap lead built but but they dropped back with a mechanical issue late in the race.
This brought out a yellow which called for a restart with just six minutes remaining, setting Miller, French and Scott Dawes up for a three-way lead battle.
Miller initially passed Dawes for the lead but French came through on the final lap to take the lead, leaving Miller and Dave House to finish second.
Dawes came home third to match his best result of the season.
House moves into the class lead by three points over Jacobs, while the top seven are all mathematically eligible for the championship win at Road Atlanta.