GT Daytona class winner Townsend Bell ended up crashing his Lexus RC F GT3 on the cool down lap, owing to the treacherous conditions drivers were faced with in Sunday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Road America.
Bell and co-driver Frankie Montecalvo scored AIM Vasser Sullivan’s third consecutive victory and the first for the No. 12 duo, in a wet and wild final hour.
The 2015 GTD champion, who took over the class lead from teammate Jack Hawksworth following the first round of pit stops, overcame a late-race charge by Mario Farnbacher in the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo.
Farnbacher, who took the final restart in fifth, charged to the lead with three minutes to go, following a brave move on the outside of Bell at Canada Corner, only to lose control of his Acura at the Kink the following lap.
“There was a lot going on in those last three laps,” said Bell.
“The red flag came out and I thought there is no way we’re going back to green and then I remembered we’ve got Beaux Barfield in race control. I call him Cow-Beaux, send it.
“We had to get back in and get out there. The first lap to be fair was ok. The Michelins were incredible in those conditions and then the skies just opened up.
“It was particularly bad in the Carousel and the Kink.
“Farnbacher, he was going big round the outside and got by us kind of easily. We kind of hung in there and I was coming out of the Carousel looking up the road and there he was sliding out in the grass near the wall.
“I hit that standing water and thought I was going to lose it. For a split second I thought I was just going to lift and coast and I saw him off there.
“I just put my foot down and just started grabbing gears.
“The Lexus just barely hooked up and I got by him, that’s all it took and then the yellow came out.”
The drama didn’t end there as Bell lost control of his car on the cool down lap of the race, which ended under full-course caution.
“The worst part was actually after the checkered flag,” he said. “I actually crashed the car in the final corner at about 20 mph into a concrete wall.
“I literally drove up pit lane with a severely wounded car. Then I came to a stop and when they told me to move my position and go to the podium, I turned the steering wheel and the steering rack actually broke.
“It’s unbelievable. If that had happened a lap earlier we would have lost the race under caution at 20 mph. That’s how bad the conditions were.
“It’s kind of embarrassing, but I’m not sure I could do much else. I was just driving in a straight line as slow as I could go and it just started floating off the track.”
Breakthrough Win “Really Satisfying” for No. 12 Crew
Bell said the win for he and Montecalvo had been a long time coming, especially after watching their sister car take victory in the last two rounds.
“It’s been really satisfying for the team to have the 1-2 in qualifying and the 1-2 finish but quietly we get a little frustrated because we want a chance at the top step too,” he said.
It marked Montecalvo’s first WeatherTech Championship win altogether.
“Me and Townsend have been trying really hard to get this win for the 12 car. It’s great for the guys,” Montecalvo said.
“Everything worked out for us in this race. It feels amazing. I think they made a phenomenal call in the pits right at the perfect time. It was a great race for us.”