Barber weekend, Sunday notes for PWC, MRTI

Photo: Cadillac Racing
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – There are three races today beyond the Verizon IndyCar Series and the first of those is in the books this morning, the Pirelli World Challenge GT/GTA/GT Cup second race this year.

Here’s that report, below, before two Mazda Road to Indy races for the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires:

Michael Cooper has parlayed his early season pace and results into his first win in the GT class, driving the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R in PWC.

The past GTS (2015) and TC (2012) class champion used excellent defense against Saturday winner Alvaro Parente in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3, after getting by the Portuguese driver on the start.

Once ahead, Cooper scythed through traffic and used slower GT Cup class cars to his advantage to beat Parente home.

“After making a slight mistake at the start yesterday, I was determined to get it right today,” said Cooper. “I knew that the race was going to be won or lost at the start, so I dared greatly to move on the outside and I was able to take the lead heading into Turn 2.

“I knew from being behind Alvaro yesterday how hard it would be to put a move on and get passed. I just tried to be aware that he might be setting me up for big dive-bomb maneuver, but he is a pro and it never came.

“It is still a little surreal that I just got my first win for Cadillac. I think it will set in later. It is absolutely awesome to come through the ranks of World Challenge and get a win at the top level.”

Two more sports car veterans were third and fourth, with Johnny O’Connell in the No. 3 Cadillac ahead of Patrick Long in the No. 31 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R.

Martin Fuentes inherited the GTA win, his seventh in as many races, after Frankie Montecalvo slowed with mechanical issues in the final 10 minutes.

Meanwhile Alec Udell took the GTC win for his second win in as many days.

The 50-minute race ran caution free and was a better showcase for the series after tough races in St. Petersburg and Long Beach, and with a couple yellows also interrupting the flow of the first Barber race on Saturday.

Here’s Ryan Hunter-Reay, a two-time Barber winner, presenting country music star/singer/songwriter Sara Evans with a commemorative milk bottle. Evans is the race’s grand marshal today.

The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires race was a similar story as it has been in the three previous races: two Team Pelfrey teammates 1-2 with Pato O’Ward leading home Aaron Telitz for the third time in four races this year. Garett Grist finished third for Juncos Racing, same as he did on Saturday.

The one other key moment this race involved the other Pelfrey Pro Mazda driver, Weiron Tan, who survived a barrel roll of an accident following apparent contact with Jake Parsons of Juncos. Parsons endured something of a nightmare weekend and was at least able to complete one lap, while Tan was done on the spot.

Both KVSH Racing and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have announced plans for a press conference on Tuesday at 12:15 p.m. ET, to announce a driver and sponsor combination for the third KVSH car (Sebastien Bourdais for KVSH, and Matthew Brabham for PIRTEK Team Murray the other two) for this year’s 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

If you read this post yesterday, you’ll have an idea on who that driver is expected to be.

Prior to the IndyCar race, Santiago Urrutia won his first Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires race to make it five winners in as many races. The Pro Mazda champion follows Felix Serralles, Felix Rosenqvist, Kyle Kaiser and Ed Jones to win this year. That quick report is broken out into a separate post from the AP, here.