Photo: PWC

PWC: Parente (GT), James (GTS) capture Sunday Mid-Ohio wins

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LEXINGTON, Ohio – Alvaro Parente (GT) and Ian James (GTS) captured Sunday’s wins for the Pirelli World Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

GT

Parente completes his first weekend sweep of the year after a second successive authoritative drive from pole to victory in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3.

The wins were his third and fourth of the year in the Sprint season and saw him close even further on Sprint championship leader Patrick Long, who finished second in the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R this afternoon (unofficially within five points).

Impressing in third with his first overall podium in GT only competition is series veteran Alec Udell of GMG Racing, driving the No. 17 Porsche. The native of The Woodlands, Texas is still only in his early 20s but has starred in the series’ GTS, GT Cup and GTA classes and classifications. Today, he drove a heady race beyond his years matched up against many of the series’ veterans, and held off a hard charging Kyle Marcelli in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3.

Udell’s overall podium capped off a banner weekend for GMG; James Sofronas won his second straight GTA race in his No. 14 Porsche while George Kurtz did the same with his No. 04 McLaren 570S GT4 in the GTS Am division.

GTS

Photo: PWC

The string of one manufacturer sweeping the weekend in GTS finally ended in Mid-Ohio. After Lawson Aschenbach took the spoils on Saturday in his No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R, his season long sparring partner Ian James took Sunday’s win in his No. 50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT.

James got past Aschenbach after hounding him the first 18 laps of the 35-lap contest before taking the lead on the 19th lap Sunday, and extended his margin to 1.917 seconds at the checkered flag.

This is James’ third win of the year, the first driver to reach that mark, and he now sits second in points behind Aschenbach. With races in Utah, Circuit of The Americas and Sonoma Raceway to come over the next couple months, it’ll be interesting to see of Aschenbach’s consistent run of podiums keeps him at a margin similar to the 267-181 score, as it is now.

2016 Knoxville Nationals champ Jason Johnson succumbs to injuries from sprint car crash

Photo courtesy Jason Johnson Racing official Facebook page
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Former Knoxville Nationals champion sprint car driver Jason Johnson has died from injuries suffered in a crash Saturday night in a World of Outlaws race at Beaver Dam (Wisconsin) Raceway).

Known as the “Ragin’ Cajun” for his aggressive style of racing, Johnson, 41, passed away this morning, according to an announcement by WoO. He was one of the most respected and well-liked drivers on the circuit by both fellow competitors and fans.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Johnson, a Eunice, Louisiana resident, was racing for the lead in the main event on the one-third-mile clay track with eventual race winner Daryn Pitman, when Johnson crashed on Lap 18 shortly after a restart.

Johnson’s car left the track surface in Turn 3 and flew through at least one billboard adjacent to the racetrack, according to media and witness reports.

It took rescue workers several minutes to extricate Johnson, who was taken by ambulance to a local hospital before being airlifted to Aurora Summit Hospital in Summit, Wisconsin, according to the Journal Sentinel report.

How many will remember Johnson:

Johnson, who won the 2016 Knoxville Nationals – the sport’s biggest race – in Iowa in storybook fashion, had been a primarily part-time racer on various sprint car circuits from 1998 until he went full-time on the Outlaws series, capturing Rookie of the Year honors in 2015.

MORE: Knoxville win should be big boost to Jason Johnson’s season, career

Johnson had 12 wins on the Outlaws circuit, including two victories this season.

The Journal Sentinel also posted a statement from SLS Promotions, which promoted Saturday’s race:

“Everyone at SLS Promotions offers our deepest, most sincere thoughts, prayers and condolences to Bobbi Johnson (Jason’s wife), Jaxx Johnson (the couple’s son) and the entire Johnson family and JJR Racing team.

“Jason was a great competitor and true ambassador for the sport. It was an honor and a privilege to work with him during his time on the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series trail. Jason will never be forgotten”

Other notables also commented on his death on social media:

According to the Journal Sentinel, Johnson is the second driver in four years to die at the small track northwest of Milwaukee. In September 2014, Scott Semmelann, 47, was killed there while practicing for an Interstate Racing Association event.

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