In his return to the Pirelli World Challenge Series after having won the driver’s championship last year, Patrick Long clinched victory Saturday at at Miller Motorsports Park. Having won pole position, Long fell to second at the start, to the charging Cadillac of Johnny O’Connell. Long and O’Connell gapped the rest of the field for the first six laps before Long was able to pass the Cadillac into turn one, and once at the front of the race, checked out to win by 3.032 seconds over championship leader O’Connell.
Driving the #1 PrivacyStar / Entrust Porsche GT3, Long was happy with his race.
“I dropped the clutch at the start and the thing hooked up so well I had to dip the clutch again and that gave everybody a jump,” Long said. “But I learned from last year that you can’t give up on the starts even if you get beat off the line so I went hucking down into one and laid it on the ABS and got a couple of those spots back.” “After that, Johnny was really quick the first couple of laps and I just tried to keep him honest, find out where his strengths and weaknesses were, and really just use him up. Today, we were just so evenly matched on speed but it came down to consistency and with TruSpeed and [Long’s engineer] Steve Trindade, that thing was so hooked up. You can’t sit there and count your chickens because the Pratt and Miller guys are going to be there every single weekend. For a small team out of Southern California, it’s pretty awesome to beat the Detroit iron.”
Justin Marks had a tough race in the #46 GoPro / MMX Porsche GT3, enduring two pitstops to fix what ended up being a pebble lodged in the throttle linkage inside the cockpit. Marks qualified 7th and climbed to 5th in the GT class before his throttle problems popped up. He went on to finish 12th, 5 laps down.
Madison Snow, who pulled double duty this weekend and who won the IMSA GT3 Cup race earlier on Saturday, drove a solid debut race in the Pirelli World Challenge, and was forced to sit out qualifying due to a rules technicality. Starting from the back of the grid, Snow worked his way forward into 6th, where he was pressuring James Sofronas for position. Madison ended up running wide into marbles and spinning the car, but was able to hang on for a 9th place finish.
Team Manager Tyler Tadevic said,
“What a day we’ve had! We’ve got mixed emotions right now because it was awesome to see Patrick win today, but frustrating for Justin and Madison. All three of our cars and drivers were solidly in the top 5 all weekend, but due to a rules decision that affected Madison and the throttle problem for Justin, we feel like we could have had a better team result this weekend. We seem to be a little snakebit with Justin, but we’re looking forward to getting to Laguna, a track we know suits our car well, and where Justin’s had success in the past.”
“All in all, it was great to watch Patrick race today and it continues to be rewarding to have him with the team. It was an awesome feeling seeing the car so hooked up, and it’s a tribute to how hard the team has worked for the last two years to develop as racers.”
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[Photo Credit: Richard Prince/www.rprincephoto.com]