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Michael Lewis And Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Are A Match
Michael Lewis nabs first Pole Position in GT3 Cup racing at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. After posting practice times of 1:29.398 (P2) and 1:29.110 (P1) in Practice 1 and Practice 2 respectively, Lewis lays down a lap of 1:27.786 (over 1.3 seconds better) to secure the pole for Sunday's first race at his new favorite track! Image Credit: IMSA GT3 Cup
Michael Lewis And Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Are A Match
It was impossible to tell during Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama qualifying May 3 that Michael Lewis was driving at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for just the third day in his life.
Series rookie Lewis earned his first career pole with a last-lap time of 1 minute, 27.786 seconds, 91.778 mph in the No. 98 Competition Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, taking the top spot from series leader Angel Benitez Jr. in the final minute of the session.
"The car is really good," Lewis said. "We're sitting at the top of the charts, and the car helped me do that. Awesome last lap, that's really all I can say. We had to do it in the last minute, and everyone was fighting for some track space. I had to fight for every inch of the track, and luckily I could do it on the last lap.
"We were hoping to start in the first two rows, at least, so it's icing on the cake to be first. It was a good effort by the team, and we just threw it down on the last lap. I was just trying to improve mentally on what I was doing before, a little bit of self-coaching on that last lap."
This is the first race at the iconic Northern California track for Lewis, 23, a native of Laguna Beach, California. He came to the single-make series this season after winning the IMSA Scholarship, wanting to race sports cars in America after spending the last three years in Europe in Formula 3 competition.
Benitez, from Valencia, Venezuela, will start second after a top lap of 1:27.808 in the No. 05 Formula Motorsport/Avid Motorsport entry. He won the first two rounds of the season March 13-14 at Sebring International Raceway.
Sloan Urry, from Park City, Utah, qualified third at 1:27.976 in the No. 20 JDX Racing 911 GT3 Cup car. Jesse Lazare, 16, from Montreal, qualified fourth at 1:28.238 in the No. 31 Door Doctor/Moorespeed entry.
Colin Thompson rounded out a top five of young rising talents with his lap of 1:28.310 in the No. 14 Kelly Moss Motorsports Porsche. Thompson, from Doylestown, Pa., finished second in both rounds at Sebring.
Kasey Kuhlman, from Cincinnati, was the top Platinum Masters (age 45 and older) qualifier at 1:28.321 in the No. 15 Wright Motorsports entry, good for sixth overall. Paul Barnhart Jr., from Houston, won the pole for the Gold and Gold Masters classes with his lap of 1:30.148 in the No. 17 Kelly Moss Motorsports entry. Barnhart is making his first start of the season.
Two 45-minute races are scheduled for Sunday on the 11-turn, 2.238-mile circuit. Race 1 will start at 9 a.m. (PT), with Race 2 at 5:15 p.m.
... notes from The EDJE
UPDATE - Race 1:
Michael Lewis fought off a strong challenge from P2 starter Angel Andres Benitez Jr. for the first 14 laps. Lewis was able stay ahead until the chasing No. 5 Formula Motorsport/Avid Motorsport Porsche had a miscue and brought out a Yellow Flag. Benitez Jr. was able to rejoin the field back in P11 leaving Lewis to be followed by Sloan Urry in the No. 20 JDX Racing GT3P car.
Lewis kept the No. 98 Competition Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car in front by as much as 4.269 seconds until a Lap 22 Yellow Flag. The Green Flag flew with only enough time for one lap where Michael Lewis was able to score his first Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca "hometrack" career win on Lap 26.
UPDATE - Race 2:
Two, 2- Yellow Flag cluttered races, Two P1 starting position races, lead to Two Wins for the No. 98 Competition Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car driven by Michael Lewis.
This second race had its first Yellow Flag before the first lap was complete and once again, Angel Andres Benitez Jr. found himself directly behind Lewis at the end of the first lap (after starting from P3). On Lap 4 the Green Flag dropped and over the next 9 laps with the time at the halfway point (22.50 minutes of a 45.00 minute race) Lewis was able to build a 2.640 cushion ahead of Benitez before the No. 05 Formula Motorsport/Avid Motorsport 911 GT3 Cup car got serious and began to reel Michael Lewis in.
On Lap 20 another Yellow Flag flew bunching up the field. Competition Motorsports team-mate David Calvert-Jones (CJ) who started at P7 worked his way up to P5 by this time and the caution period helped to erase a 20 second deficit.
With the race restarting on Lap 22, Angel Benitez Jr. was keeping very close until Lap 26 ... and about 3:00 minutes left ... where he slipped to P9 leaving the No. 14 Kelly-Moss Motorsports 911 GT3 Cup car of Colin Thompson directly behind Lewis for the balance of the race ending on Lap 28. CJ finished the race at P4.
A near double-podium finish for Competition Motorsports still leaves Michael Lewis with a weekend of two wins at a track he only met four days ago - Bet cya' he's thinking that Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Michael Lewis are a match made in motorsports heaven.