Via IMSA NEWS
Even with the shaky weather Friday at VIR, the status remained pretty much quo through opening practice for the IMSA Prototype Challenge. The No. 9 JDC MotorSports Norma M30 LMP3 5.0L V8, winner of the last two races this season, set the pace in what became an abbreviated session due to heavy rain.
The 45-minute practice began with a wet track following a rain shower prior to the session’s start, but VIRginia International Raceway showed signs of drying as some cars tested the 3.27-mile, 17-turn circuit. Scott Andrews was the first driver to tour the course in less than two minutes, posting a lap of 1:59.776 (98.283 mph) in the No. 9 he shares with Gerry Kraut.
Soon after, the skies opened again and the cars sat idle for the last half of the soggy session. Only nine entries turned laps at speed, with Andrews more than four seconds quicker than the No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports Norma piloted by Kyle Kirkwood (2:03.780).
Prototype Challenge competitors will have a final, 30-minute practice session starting at 8:50 a.m. ET Saturday, ahead of qualifying at 11:20 a.m. Sunday’s race, timed at one hour, 45 minutes, streams live at 9:35 a.m. ET on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.
The VIR round is the fourth of six on the 2020 Prototype Challenge schedule. Naveen Rao and Matthew Bell, drivers of the No. 64 K2R Motorsports Norma, lead the standings by two points over Dakota Dickerson, who rides in the No. 54 MLT Motorsports Ligier JS P3 with co-driver Dom Cicero.
Congratulations to the winners Scott Andrews and Gerry Kraut for the IMSA Prototype Challenge race at Road America #IMSA / #RoadAmerica
Gerry Kraut and Scott Andrews picked up their second consecutive IMSA Prototype Challenge win on Saturday, but not without some drama, confusion, momentary deflation and eventual elation.
Andrews was behind the wheel of the No. 9 JDC MotorSports Norma M30 for the final stint at Road America, nursing his fuel to the finish 1.837 seconds ahead of the No. 74 Forty7 Motorsports Norma driven by Wyatt Schwab and Jon Brownson.
The drama and confusion erupted when the field was shown the white flag instead of the checkered as Andrews crossed the finish line. Based on IMSA’s lap-time average predictor, the race leader was expected to cross the line before the one-hour, 45-minute time limit ran out, necessitating one more lap. But since Andrews’ pace had slowed dramatically in fuel-saving mode, he crossed start-finish a few seconds after time had expired.
The extra lap that wound up not counting saw a five-car thrash around the 4.048-mile road course for what they thought would be the win. Dakota Dickerson maneuvered from fifth place to first in the No. 54 MLT Motorsports Ligier JS P3, but he was returned to fifth in the official result.
The victory for Kraut and Andrews comes two weeks after they won at Sebring International Raceway, though neither was sure initially if they had won Saturday.
“I was on the timing stand and the clock had run out,” said Kraut, who drove the opening stint but was among the first to pit 45 minutes into the race. “(Andrews) was coming out of (Turn) 14, we assumed they were going to throw the checker and they threw the white. We went like, ‘What?!’ Obviously, they did the right thing to reverse that.”
Andrews said he would’ve been delighted with third place, where he was when the extra lap was completed. Then he received the good news over the team radio on the cooldown lap.
“They said, ‘Hang tight, we may have won this thing,’” Andrews said. “So, I was super happy and celebrating the whole time. It was good.
“We came into the race probably knowing we didn’t have the pace, so we had to do a risky and aggressive strategy on fuel if we had any chance to win. As far as strategy and teamwork and just the driving for both of us, I think we did a really awesome job collectively.
“I’m stoked. Two in a row is awesome. It’s not something we expected but we’re very grateful we have the opportunity to do it.”
An additional post-race reshuffling occurred in technical inspection where a fuel capacity infraction was revealed on the No. 74 of Schwab and Brownson. The car was moved to the bottom of the finishing order as a result.
The penalty moved Dan Goldburg and Blake Mount into second in the No. 6 Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier. David Grant and Keith Grant, who started on pole in the No. 40 Forty7 Motorsports Norma, wound up third overall but claimed victory in the Bronze Cup class.
“It was great,” Keith Grant said. “David put down some good qualifying laps and was able to start from the pole for us. He led the whole first stint and did a good job of getting us a gap. We had a good pit stop this time; we had troubles last time at Sebring. I just had to put my head down.”
IMSA Prototype Challenge returns to action Sunday, Aug. 23 at VIRginia International Raceway. The race streams live at 9:35 a.m. ET on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.
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