Benitez Is The Man In GT3 Cup Challenge
SEBRING, Fla. — Angel Benitez Jr. won Thursday’s season opener for the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama at Sebring Int’l Raceway.
Polesitter Benitez pulled away from the field at the green flag and took control of the 17-turn circuit for the first half of competition. Madison Snow of Snow Racing/Wright Motorsports was close behind in his second-place starting position and never lost sight of Benitez Jr. Snow made his move on the Venezuelan driver entering Turn 7 on Lap 13, but minor nose-to-tail contact would force Snow to pit on Lap 14, ending his day.
Race 1 was shortened due to a full-course caution late in the race, but Benitez Jr. had no other challengers en route to his first Platinum Cup win after commanding the 2012 Gold Cup Championship.
“It was very hot inside the car, but I survived,” exclaimed Benitez. “It was an amazing weekend. We had the pole position and the new qualifying record, and led flag-to-flag. I think we have a good shot at success this season. We have to keep working hard and pushing for more.”
Snow’s misfortune opened the door for Michael Mills of Effort Racing to make a run at Benitez Jr., but Mills couldn’t find the speed to track down the leader.
“Everyone did a great job on the start with giving each other room,” said Mills. “It’s great to see that just starting out this year. Angel and Madison checked out and I didn’t have the pace to keep up. It was a great race. The guys working on my car did a fantastic job. It was a great day and I’m so glad to be on the podium.”
Not far behind Mills, Brett Sandberg of TruSpeed Motorsports found some speed and managed to get around Daniel Duerson of NGT Motorsport to land himself on the final podium spot.