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All But One Endurance Cup Title Clinched With Two Hours to Go

All but one Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup title clinched…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

All but one Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup titles now have been clinched in a dramatic, ten-hour Motul Petit Le Mans as darkness falls on Road Atlanta.

The No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT team wrapped up the GT Le Mans Patrón Endurance Cup team title, while its full-season co-drivers, Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller clinched the drivers’ title when points were awarded at the eight-hour interval.

In the GT Daytona class, the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports team wrapped up its second consecutive Patrón Endurance Cup, as did drivers Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen.

The team’s third driver, Luca Stolz, will receive his first Patrón Endurance Cup at WeatherTech Night of Champions on Sunday.

Another repeat performance came in the Prototype manufacturer race, as Cadillac clinched its second straight manufacturers’ Patrón Endurance Cup when it led at eight hours with the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R and co-drivers Jordan Taylor, Renger van der Zande and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

The battle for the GTD Patrón Endurance Cup manufacturers’ title will go down to the finish. Mercedes-AMG currently leads Lamborghini by two points, 39-37.

While the Patrón Endurance Cup titles are mostly sorted, the overall championships for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship are anything but.

In a dramatic turn of events in the eighth hour, the No. 3 Corvette team and full-season drivers Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia saw their championship hopes placed in real jeopardy after Garcia hit the barrier exiting the pits.

He immediately brought the car around to the team’s transporter, where lightning-quick repairs were made, but the car had fallen two laps behind the GTLM leading No. 911 Porsche of Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy and Frederic Makowiecki. It was running ninth in class at the eight-hour mark.

If the No. 3 car finishes seventh or lower, the No. 67 Ford GT and full-season co-drivers Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe can win the GTLM championship with a finish of second or better.

Alongside their third driver, IndyCar champion Scott Dixon, the No. 67 duo was running second at eight hours.

If the No. 3 car makes it to seventh place, the No. 67 team would need to win the race to take the title, as would also be the case if the No. 3 made it as high as fifth.

The No. 3 Corvette . would take the title with a run of fourth or better, regardless of the No. 67’s performance.

The margin for the Prototype title also was razor thin at eight hours. No. 31 Action Express Cadillac DPi teammates Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr were running eighth, while the No. 54 CORE autosport Oreca 07 Gibson LMP2 machine of Colin Braun and Jon Bennett was fifth.

If that’s how the race ended, the No. 31 car would take the title by one point.

In GTD, the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 and full-season drivers Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow were in position to take the title, running second in class, while the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 of Katherine Legge was fourth. The No. 48 would clinch with a podium result.

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