Ben Crosland won in GTS on Sunday at Infineon (Mark Weber photo).
With the grid set based on lap times during Saturday’s first race of the doubleheader weekend, Long started from pole in his No. 45 Privacy Star/TruSpeed and pulled away from the field at the as the lights went out. A pair of Cadillacs driven by Andy Pilgrim and Johnny O’Connell gave chase, but Long opened up a gap that settled between one and two seconds for most of the race.
Each time Pilgrim’s No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V Coupe appeared poised to catch the leader, Long worked his Porsche through traffic and stretched his lead again. When the checkered flag waved after 27 laps, Long had earned a 1.586-second win. Long averaged 82.520 mph over the 60.615-mile race, and turned the fastest lap of the race in 1:35.914 (84.263 mph).
The weekend sweep gives Long four wins this season and a GT Drivers’ Championship lead with two races remaining in the season.
“It’s a big weekend, this is very timely,” Long said. “It was more work than maybe the gap shows in both of those races, especially today. Traffic didn’t go my way, and that’s not anybody’s fault, it’s just racing. That’s what makes it challenging. Racing Andy, he was really good on the brakes and I’m racing with maximum [REWARDS weight] so I had to work to make the brakes and tires last.
“This is a good track for us. We’re going to be licking our wounds a little bit the next two weeks at the big courses, but this is what we needed to do for points. We’re going to race for a win all the way to the end of the year, we’re not going to be points racing because it’s too competitive. It was a tremendous honor to run with the Cadillac boys this weekend and the TruSpeed guys have given me everything I’ve asked for this season. It’s a tremendous effort for everybody collectively and it’s great to be part of this series.”
While Pilgrim chased Long, he also had to hold off a charge from drivers behind him – first from his teammate O’Connell in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V Coupe, and then from James Sofronas in the No. 14 GMG Porsche 911 GT3 once Sofronas moved into third on lap eight. Pilgrim held off the challenges to earn his first podium of the season.
“I’m very happy to give my guys a podium,” Pilgrim said. “All the Cadillac guys have been working so hard and we’ve had a bit of bad luck this year, but now we have a podium and I’m very happy for my guys. They’ve really worked their butts off.
“I had James on one side and Patrick on the other, I was in a Porsche sandwich. It was brutally tough at the end. Everybody was sliding. Patrick was losing his fronts, I was losing my rears. It was a great race, you could not afford to make a mistake anywhere. Everyone was on the limit, and I just think it was a great race. Hopefully the fans enjoyed it.”
Sofronas started fifth, but hit traffic at the wrong time and settled for third.
“I think I just let it slip away,” Sofronas said. “I was saving my tires at the end and I could see I was gaining on them. I had to work a little harder than I’d like, but every time I would catch them I didn’t get the traffic break. Usually it works that way, the first two get through and the third gets left out. Every time I had a legitimate shot at catching them, traffic held me up but that’s how it goes. Getting back on the podium was at least what we wanted to do, so I’m happy for the GMG guys for their stellar effort and looking forward to my favorite track, Laguna Seca.”
Patrick Lindsey’s No. 12 Hawk Performance/CRP Chevrolet Corvette and O’Connell’s Cadillac made contact in Turn 11 on lap 16, slowing both and sending O’Connell spinning. Lindsey inherited fourth after Dino Crescentini pulled to pit lane with clutch issues in his No. 4 StopTech Brakes Porsche 911 GT3.
Tomy Drissi moved past O’Connell with two laps remaining to finish fifth in the No. 47 Alvin & The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked Porsche 911 GT3. O’Connell finished sixth after the eventful day.
Long leads the GT Drivers’ Championship with 1152 points over Sofronas, who is 185 points behind with two races remaining in the season. O’Connell (954) sits third, followed by Mike Skeen (918). Skeen finished 8th after starting the race from pit lane and the rear of the field with a clutch problem on the formation lap. Pilgrim is fifth in points with 807. Porsche continues to hold a 73-45 lead over Cadillac in the GT Manufacturers’ Championship, with Volvo (18) third.
Crosland pushed his No. 25 RaceWithRP.com Ford Mustang FR500S around the outside of Paul Brown in Turn 11 with two laps remaining to earn the Cadillac CTS-V Move of the Race, then held off the GTS point leader to the checkered flag for his second win of the season.
The 18-year-old started on the pole but fell behind Brown’s No. 50 Luminox/Lucas Oil/K&N Filter Ford Mustang Boss 302S on the standing start, remaining in second for the opening 22 laps of the 25 that the GTS leaders completed. Crosland held off a challenge from Alec Udell’s No. 06 Momentum Autosport Chevrolet Camaro during the middle stages of the race before setting his sights on Brown.
“We ran into a bit of traffic and it played into my hands,” Crosland said. “I just got the advantage off of the hairpin and it went my way. It was a really good race, really close and an awesome battle.
“There were a lot of points where I would get slowed up, and then he would get slowed up. The pass was one time where I got the advantage and got past him and got the win at the end. I had a really good car and knew if I got past him I could keep the lead, but he made me work for it.”
Brown would finish second after leading 22 laps and turning the fastest lap of the race in 1:44.835 (77.092 mph).
Greg Liefooghe earned his second-consecutive podium in his debut weekend with the Pirelli World Challenge, finishing third in the No. 16 Red Line Oil Ford Mustang Boss 302S.
Saturday’s GTS winner Peter Cunnigham finished fourth in the No. 1 Acura/RealTime Racing Acura TSX, followed by Brad Adams in the No. 75 RaceWithRP.com Ford Mustang FR500S.
Brown leads the GTS Drivers’ Championship with 1249 points, followed by Crosland with 1028. Eric Foss, who finished seventh on Sunday, is third with 1016. Cunningham (997) and Adams (757) complete the top five. Ford leads Acura in the GTS Manufacturers’ Championship, 91-48.
Povoledo started second in his No. 88 K-Pax Racing Volvo C30 alongside the No. 71 Compass360 Racing Honda Civic Si of Lawson Aschenbach. Aschenbach led the Touring Car field away from the standing start, but Povoledo moved past him midway through the opening lap to earn the Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the Race.
Once in the lead, Povoledo led for 24 laps to the checkered flag for an 8.576-second victory despite a scare from contact with the No. 45 Entrust Porsche 911 GT3 of Rob Morgan while Morgan was working through the Touring Car traffic.
“It was extremely intense out there,” Povoledo said. “I had to run the perfect line, had to be perfect on the brakes every single time. The car started off monsterously loose. It’s always exciting if you’re here for the drift show, but unfortunately when you have such a strong competitor as Lawson on your tail, it made it really intense at the start. The stability of this Volvo C30 under braking is second to none. I just put my head down, hit my marks and was really smart in traffic.”
Aschenbach, Saturday’s race winner at Infineon Raceway, finished second for his eighth podium finish of the season. Tristan Herbert earned his second podium finish of the weekend with a third-place finish in the No. 33 GermanAutoParts.com/Techtonics Volkswagen GTI.
Ray Mason improved his No. 74 Compass360 Racing Honda Civic Si six positions overall to win the Sunoco Hard Charger Award and finished fourth in Touring Car. Branden Peterson started from the rear of the field in the No. 64 Branden Peterson Racing Honda Civic Si and finished fifth.
Povoledo’s win closed the gap to Touring Car Drivers’ Championship leader Aschenbach to 202 points with two races to go, with Aschenbach holding a 1285-1083 lead. Robb Holland, who finished ninth on Sunday, is third with 875 points. Herbert (806) and Mason (745) are fourth and fifth in the Touring Car point standings. Honda leads Volvo 77-59 in the Touring Car Manufacturers’ Championship, with Volkswagen third with 47 points.
The Pirelli World Challenge Rounds Nine and Ten races from Infineon Raceway will air on Versus at 5:30 p.m. EDT on September 18.
For more information, please visit www.world-challenge.com.
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