Unlike the other three SRO series competing at Sonoma Raceway, the GT America powered by AWS racers already had already completed one race weekend, having kicked off their season in St. Petersburg in late February. The action at Sonoma Raceway was excellent across both races on this Easter weekend.
Under sunny and clear skies in California’s scenic Bay Area, Race 1 of the GT America Presented by AWS, a part of the Sonoma Raceway GT Weekend Presented by Crowdstrike, unfolded from the get-go with seemingly constant action.
Marko Radisic (No.22 SRQ Motorsports BMW) suffered a brief misfire on the out lap, prompting the safety car to stay out a bit longer than usual. Once underway, drama unfolded just after turn two, leading to several cars off track but no serious damage sustained.
This proved to be foreshadowing for the rest of the race, as several offs and light contact moments peppered throughout the rest of its 40-minute duration. This culminated with a lengthy full-course yellow that claimed the car driven by Alain Staid (No.19 Nolasport Porsche).
The stacked field that this created led to a nail-biting final five minutes in SRO3. Jason Daskalos (No.27 Daskalos Motorsports Audi) took the checkered flag by a whisker, just ahead of George Kurtz (No.04 Crowdstrike Racing by Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG) and Jason Harward (No.88 Zelus Motorsports Lamborghini).
“We didn’t have the best setup today, we were struggling through the carousel,” Daskalos shared of how the race went for him and his team. “They (Kurtz and Harward) were faster in certain areas, we had a little edge in others, some of the traffic came into play. But we were able to bring it home and that’s what matters.”
Not long after the start in GT4, Ross Chouest (No.50 Chouest Povoledo Racing Aston Martin) got the jump early on, scooting past as many as four cars to take the top spot that was briefly held by Robb Holland (No.99 Rotek Racing Porsche). A 50-second penalty was given to Ross Chouest, Hutton McKenna (No.30 Wright Motorsports Porsche) and Robb Holland due to a false start, resulting in Steve Dinan (No.930 Carbahn with Peregrine Racing Audi), Todd Coleman (No.69 Smooge Racing Toyota), Jose DaSilva (No.67 Smooge Racing Toyota) taking first, second, and third places, respectively.
Harward and McKenna Record First Wins in Easter Morning GTAmerica Sonoma Race
Jason Harward earned the pole position on a sunny Sunday morning in the No.88 Zelus Motorsports Lamborghini, after recording the fastest lap during the Saturday morning GT America Powered by AWS race. From the drop of the green to the checkered flag, Harward led the field recording another CrowdStrike Fastest Lap with a time of 1:39.433 earning his first overall career and SRO3 win after 16 races.
It was a well earned win for Harward following several full-course cautions and re-starts. The first caution was to remove the stalled car of Steve Dinan (No.930 Carbahn with Peregrine Racing) who had won the GT4 class on Saturday. An on-track incident resulted in front end damage to the No.25 Heart of Racing Aston Martin of Grey Newell and No.21 Accelerating Performance Toyota of Nick Shanny, which unfortunately took both drivers out of the race.
After the final restart Harward was able to hold off charges from Jason Daskalos (No.27 Daskalos Motorsports Audi) who finished the race in second place, with Jeff Burton (No.2 Zelus Motorsports Lamborghini) in third. George Kurtz (No.04 CrowdStrike Racing by Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG) was in the lead battle until the final restart.
“The guys put together a fantastic car. Everything I wanted the car to do, it did. Every single time it was super consistent,” said Harward following his 5.6 second margin of victory over Daskalos.
Rounding out the top six in SRO3 field were Mirco Shultis (No.70, Mishumotors Callaway Corvette) in fourth place, Justin Wetherrill (No.37 Triarsi Competizione Ferrari), George Kurtz, and Kyle Washington (No.032 GMG Racing Porsche).
Twenty cars started in the GT4 class with Chris Cagnazzi (No.39 Cameron Racing, Mercedes-AMG) and Steve Dinan (No.930 CarBahn with Peregrine Racing Audi) leading the field. The 40-minute sprint race featured a split start with the SRO3 cars leading out, followed by the GT4 contingency.
McKenna’s win was his first in the GT4 series. He said he and the team prepared for the by racing at Long Beach the prior weekend where they raced another car and did well, so they brought the Porsche 718 Cayman to Sonoma with the goal to win. “We had bad luck yesterday, and today it worked out,” said McKenna from the winner’s circle.
Last year’s champion Jason Bell (No.2 GMG Racing Aston Martin) was looking to repeat the success he had at the season opening race on the streets of St. Petersburg, FL. Bell started from the fourth row.
Although Bell was able to make his way to the third position, he was no match for Hutton McKenna (No.30 Wright Motorsports Porsche) Hutton started from row three, but was on a charge to the front, recording the CrowdStrike fast lap of 1:47.641 on his way to the win. Finishing second was Chris Cagnazzi with Jason Bell in third.
Rounding out the top ten for the GT4 class were Ross Chouest (No.50 Chouest Povoledo Racing Aston Martin) in fourth place, followed by Adam Adelson (No.120 Premier Racing Porsche), Robb Holland (No.99 Rotek Racing, Porsche), Moisey Uretsky (No.55 Accelerating Performance Aston Martin), Marko Radisic (No.22 SRQ Motorsports BMW), Jose DaSilva (No.67 Smooge Racing Toyota), and Sean Whalen (No.888 Zelus Motorsports Aston Martin).
GT America competitors return to action for rounds five and six of the 2022 season on June 17-19 at the historic VIRginia International Raceway.