CHAMPIONSHIP HOPEFULS MCCUSKER, PFLUCKER WIN IMSA PROTOTYPE CHALLENGE RACE AT CTMP
For the second consecutive season, Austin McCusker and Forty7 Motorsports are Canadian Tire Motorsport Park winners in the IMSA Prototype Challenge.
McCusker joined co-driver Rodrigo Pflucker in a convincing victory in the No. 47 Norma M30 with the duo establishing themselves as the championship favorites with just two races remaining. It was the team’s first victory of the season following runner-up finishes at Daytona International Speedway and Sebring International Raceway and a fourth-place finish at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Heading into the season’s final two races, McCusker and Pflucker now unofficially lead the No. 4 ANSA Motorsports Ligier JS P3 duo of Neil Alberico and Leo Lamelas by 13 points, 127-114.
“I’ve got to thank everyone at Forty7 Motorsports for making it happen,” said McCusker, who won last year’s race at CTMP alongside co-driver TJ Fischer. “Rodrigo gave us a good spot on the first stint. The guys were flawless on the pit stops. The second stint we were supposed to put Rodrigo back in, but we decided we had a good gap and I thought I could handle it throughout if we could. It was a good win.”
“The most important thing about winning that race is leading the points,” added Pflucker. “This my first win also, so it this is very special.”
Much of the early part of the three-hour race was dominated by the No. 51 K2R Motorsports Ligier JS P3 with Garett Grist taking the lead from polesitter Stevan McAleer in Turn 1 on the first lap and leading the race’s opening one hour, 10 minutes alongside co-driver Rob Hodes.
It wasn’t until the first set of green flag pit stops that both the No. 47 team and fellow championship contenders Alberico and Lamelas inched towards the front in the No. 4 Ligier JS P3.
Those two cars battled alongside the No. 9 JDC MotorSports Norma M30 of Scott Andews and Gerry Kraut, the Mid-Ohio winning No. 54 MLT Motorsports of Dylan Murry and Dakota Dickerson, and the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports of Scott Huffaker and Chris Archinaco in the top-five for much of the second half of the race.
The pace of McCusker was too much for the competition though, pulling away to a 16.012 second victory over Huffaker, who got by Andrews in the final corner with three minutes remaining for the runner-up spot. Dickerson finished on the lead lap in fourth while Alberico finished fifth.
Finishing ninth but winning the Bronze Cup for the highest-running Bronze-only driver lineup was Michal Chlumecky and last year’s MPC class champion Jon Brownson in the No. 2 Ansa Motorsports Ligier.
“That was a long race,” said Brownson. “It’s exciting to have a three-hour race that’s longer than the premier event. This track is especially challenging, I think it’s the fastest on the schedule. Having come up through the MPC class last year, it was quite a learning curve getting into this new car on this fast track and drive it. I really enjoyed the experience of getting up to speed and persistence pays.”
Up next for IMSA Prototype Challenge is the penultimate round of the 2019 season which will take place at VIRginia International Raceway during the Michelin GT Challenge race weekend Aug. 23-25. That weekend also includes the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama and Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America.
The IMSA Prototype Challenge race from Canadian Tire Motorsport Park race can been seen on NBCSN on Tuesday, July 16 at 6 p.m. ET