AIM Vasser Sullivan has rested its entire hopes for the IMSA GT Daytona class title on the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 this weekend at Sebring International Raceway, despite having “talked about” splitting Jack Hawksworth and Aaron Telitz up between different cars.
Telitz heads into Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with an eight-point deficit to championship leaders Meyer Shank Racing’s Mario Farnbacher and Matt McMurry.
Hawksworth is a further two points behind after having been split on points since the start of the year with Telitz, who contested the first two Michelin Endurance Cup races in the team’s No. 12 Lexus, a move that has effectively ruled Hawksworth out of a chance of the drivers’ championship.
When asked by Sportscar365 if it was considered to put Telitz back in the other Lexus for this weekend, Hawksworth stressed they believe having the strongest possible lineup in the No. 14 Lexus will give them the best chance of taking the title.
“It was talked about,” Haksworth said.
“Obviously with the situation with the points being two points apart it was certainly an option to try and widen our opportunities if something goes wrong with one car, to have a guy points-wise in the other car that can still win the thing.
“There is merit to that. But we came in with the mindset that we want to go there with the strongest possible lineup we can, the strongest possible team we can and try to deliver this result for Lexus.
“It’s all about having the strongest guys together and the best lineup we can going into the last race.”
Hawksworth, Telitz and third driver Kyle Kirkwood will will essentially need to win the race and the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo finish fifth or worse in the 13-car GTD field, in order to claim Lexus’ first season-long GTD title.
“For us this is a must-win race,” Hawksworth added. “We’re approaching it that way, so with that in mind we want every possible advantage going into it.
“We’ve left no stone unturned. We’ve gone all-in with this lineup and the plan is to win the teams’ championship, the drivers’ championship and manufacturers’ as well.”
Telitz, who was not initially scheduled to be a full-season driver with the team prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, echoed Hawksworth’s comments.
“We decided together as a team that our best chance is to stack the 14 car the best we can to have the best everything to just go for it,” he said.
“We’ve got a great lineup and our car is quick at Sebring. We just have to execute now.”
Hawksworth “Feels Pretty Good” About Sebring Chances
Having scored class victory in the July race — an event that MSR elected to skip as it was only for Sprint Cup points — Hawksworth said they feel confident about their chances this weekend.
The No. 14 Lexus is one of four GTD cars mathematically in with a chance of winning the championship, alongside the Wright Motorsports duo of Patrick Long and Ryan Hardwick, who are seven points from the lead and the No. 96 Turner Motorsport pairing of Bill Auberlen and Robby Foley, who are 20 points out.
“The points situation is what it is,” Hawksworth said. “We’re obviously eight points behind. But that means we need to win this race and the 86 Acura needs to finish [fifth] or worse.
“It’s definitely possible.
“I feel like we’re in really good shape. In fact, I feel in many ways we’re the favorites.
“We’ve got a really good car, a stacked lineup, especially for this weekend. We’ve got every opportunity to win the race.
“We are just going to go out there, try to execute, do what we do. I think we can come out on top.”
Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report