(image credit: Morgan Rhodes)
With only five rounds remaining in the 2016 season, only 101 points separate the top three in GT, Michael Shein has brought the GTA battle to within 252 points, Alec Udell and Sloan Urry have only 62 points between them and GTS (which has 6 rounds remaining) sees a mere 22 point gap. The 2016 season is winding down, but the championship battles are just now heating up. Flip those shades back down folks, ’cause this baby is gettin’ hot.
After a mixed weekend for GT championship leader Alvaro Parente at Mid Ohio, Patrick Long was able to cut slightly into Parente’s lead, only 95 points behind. Cadillac’s Michael Cooper is only 6 points further back. In 2015 the KPAX McLarens did not race due to turbo boost BoP issues at the high elevation circuit so the team looks to come into this weekend with impressive performance and get a win or two that would have surely helped Kevin Estre claim the title last season. Cadillac swept the weekend in 2015, so Michael Cooper, who took a surprise race 2 victory at Mid Ohio last round, looks to continue that momentum into Utah. Utah Motorsports Campus is generally a circuit where the naturally aspirated cars are a step behind the turbos, so it will be interesting to see how the SRO BoP works in 2016, as this is the highest elevation circuit that SRO balanced GT3 cars visit. After strong Road America and Mid Ohio weekends, look for both RealTime Racing Acuras of Ryan Eversley and Spencep Pumpelly to contend for victory as well.
Frankie Montecalvo won both GTA races in 2015 and looks to continue that streak in 2016. He will have extremely tough competition as Michael Schein and Martin Fuentes continue their battle for the championship.
GT Cup sees five cars take the grid, but all eyes will be on two of the drivers, Alec Udell and Sloan Urry, as only 62 points separate the two. Udell took a 2015 race 1 win home and will be gunning to claim the top step of the podium again. Can Urry shut him down and cut into his lead? This fight will be fun to watch.
GTS has the tightest title fight going into Utah as Lawson Aschenbach’s Blackdog Camaro is only 22 points behind Brett Sandberg’s ANSA Motorsports KTM XBow GT4. The Blackdog Camaro took the race 2 win in 2015 with Michael Cooper behind the wheel and Aschenbach will be confident heading into the weekend. Aschenbach won the sole round at Mid Ohio two weekends ago and looks to stay on top. As usual it’s hard to determine who will be good and who will struggle as the new GT4 cars throw a huge wrench into things. Impressive performances from Aschenbach, Sandberg, Nate Stacy, Jeff Courtney, Max Riddle, Martin Barkey, Parker Chase and Scott Heckert are all possible, but also look for Salt Lake City’s Vesko Kozarov to mix it up in the CA Sport Nissan 370Z.
Sprint X sees a slight bump in entries with 12 (up from 8 at CTMP) cars taking part in rounds 3 and 4. Mills Racing, with Michael Mills and Kuno Wittmer, lead the way after sweeping the inaugural weekend at CTMP. Preston Calvert and Andrew Davis join the grid in their Calvert Dynamics Porsche GT3R, M1 Racing brings Walt Bowlin and David Ostella in the Audi R8 LMS Ultra, GMG will run their Porsche with James Sofronas and Brent Holden and hometown team DXDT Racing bring an Audi R8 Ultra for David Askew and James Burke. In the GTS class, Max Riddle and Kris Wilson, who also swept CTMP, return with their TRG Aston Martin, but will be challenged from their sister car of Derek DeBoer and Jason Alexandridis. Racers Edge brings a SIN R1 GT4 for Chris Beaufait and Scott Heckert while Performance Motorsports Group will field both Ginetta GT4s with Parker Chase, Harry Gottsacker and two TBAs. GMG will also field two GT Cup cars for Kevin Westcott, Alex Welch and two TBAs.
The action kicks off on Friday August 12th with TC race 1 at 5:40pm (EASTERN). Saturday August 13th is packed with race 2 for TC taking place and race 1 for Sprint X, GT/GTA/GT Cup and GTS throughout the day.