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PWC: Acura, Ferrari headline weekend winners in Utah

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For the first time since Lime Rock Park at the end of May, all Pirelli World Challenge classes reconvened this weekend at the Utah Motorsports Campus for six total races – two SprintX, two GTS and two Touring Car events.

The SprintX parity that has dominated the year continued, with two more new pairs of drivers each winning their first races this season.

On Saturday, Peter Kox took the No. 93 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3 to the pole position and together with co-driver Mark Wilkins, delivered the car’s first win in PWC competition, and means the car has won both there and IMSA with Michael Shank Racing in its debut season. That made it six different driver, team and manufacturer combinations to have won in the first six SprintX races of the season.

An off by Niccolo Schiro opened the door for Wilkins to regain the lead, with the Canadian then parlaying an excellent strategic defense the final minutes of the race to hold off the Italian in the No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 he shared with Daniel Mancinelli. The win also exorcised some personal demons for Wilkins, who lost a GTS championship he’d led most of the 2014 season driving for Kia after a nightmare weekend at Utah’s circuit.

Patrick Long and Joerg Bergmeister were third overall in their No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, Bergmeister back in SprintX after missing the Lime Rock round owing to duties at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring when Marc Lieb filled in.

RealTime was unable to complete the double on Sunday, coming close but no cigar with the sister No. 43 Acura driven by Ryan Eversley and Tom Dyer.

Instead, TR3 became the first team in SprintX to win twice this year, Mancinelli and Schiro winning their first race as teammates together after Mancinelli and Andrea Montermini won the SprintX opener at VIR back in April.

A series of late-race restarts bunched the field together and Mancinelli, who defended multiple times against Eversley, was able to hold back the popular Georgia native who delivered his and Dyer’s best finish of the season.

Michael Cooper, meanwhile, carved his way up to third in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R he shared with Jordan Taylor, helping him in both the overall GT championship and Cooper and Taylor within the SprintX one. The No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 of Alvaro Parente and Ben Barnicoat came up just shy of a podium in fourth with the second Cadillac (Johnny O’Connell and Ricky Taylor) fifth and the Long/Bergmeister Porsche in sixth.

GTS saw Brazilian Rodrigo Baptista (No. 3 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 MR, pictured above, center) and American Ian James (No. 50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT, pictured above, right) claim their third and fourth wins of the season, respectively. A tough weekend for points leader Lawson Aschenbach in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R saw his points lead shrink as the Balance of Performance was not necessarily in his nor the team’s favor.

The Touring Car classes raced twice on Saturday. Greg Liefooghe swept the two races overall and in TC in his Stephen Cameron Racing BMW 235i.

Shea Holbrook (pictured above) won in her first outing in TCA in three years in a new Honda Civic Si for her Shea Racing team in race one, while Kenny Murillo inherited the second win in his Murillo Racing Global MX-5 Cup car in race two following a post-race exclusion for provisional winner Eric Powell, in a Tech Sport Racing Scion FR-S. Also of note, Craig Stanton banked a TCA podium in race one in third in his new Toyota TMG 86 Cup Car.

Tech Sport did sweep the TCB class with P.J. Groenke (race one) and Canaan O’Connell (race two) splitting the wins in their Chevrolet Sonics.

The full complement of classes will be on display again at Circuit of The Americas on Labor Day weekend, with SprintX holding a three-race weekend including the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park makeup race.

Full results from this weekend at Utah are linked here.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).