Braselton, GA - Gabby Chaves and Ryan Norman scored Hyundai's fourth straight victory and BHA's first win in an endurance race Sunday. They took the checkered flag after 4 hours of action-packed racing in the sizzling heat at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. Teammates Parker Chase and Spencer Brockman finished second in the #29 Vertical Bridge Hyundai Veloster N TCR, while the #98 of Michael Lewis and Mason Filippi finished fifth. Pole winners Harry Gottsacker and Mark Wilkins finished ninth.
Doubling the race distance doubles the challenges, but also makes victory more rewarding. "It's a great win for the team and for Hyundai," said Bryan Herta. "It was a tough race. Longer races always present more opportunities for challenges and we had some with the #98 and #21 cars. The team fought hard to be there at the end, and we walked away strengthening Hyundai's lead in the manufacturers’ championship."
The #33 Hyundai Veloster N TCR started fourth with "Flyin' Ryan Norman" behind the wheel. Norman has led every race in 2020, and continued that streak at Road Atlanta prior to turning the bright red Veloster over to co-driver Gabby Chaves for the final two hours.
Fuel consumption was the name of the game for everyone in the final hour. Chaves and his engineers were tasked with either hoping for a yellow flag or exercising fuel saving measures while retaining the lead to finish the race without an extra stop. They strategized diligently and Chaves drove a phenomenal race. He saved enough fuel to the end, while controlling the race from the lead, earning their second victory this season. The victory bumped the #33 team to the championship points lead by 2 points.
In another great result for the #29 Vertical Bridge Hyundai Veloster N TCR, Spencer Brockman showed his pace early, racing to sixth at the start, and running in the top five through most of his stint. Seeking an advantage in strategy, the #29 car was the first to pit of the four-car BHA squad. An unwelcomed caution period hit as soon as they returned to the track, spoiling the strategy and putting them a lap down. Fortunately, it happened early in the race and through pace consistency by Brockman, finisher Parker Chase and the #29 crew’s strategy, they returned to the lead lap. They then led the race three times for 35 laps, and raced back to contention for the four-hour victory. Ultimately, Parker Chase set the fastest lap and finished second, earning the team’s third podium finish in four races.
Michael Lewis took the green flag in the #98 Hyundai Veloster N TCR. Early in the race, the #98 crew diagnosed a fuel issue that forced the team to make nine pit stops throughout the race. Lewis and his teammate Mason Filippi kept their focus and perseverance, and managed a top five finish, despite stopping four more times than the cars immediately behind them. This result is a testament to the team's quick stops and flawless driving.
Starting from pole position for the first time in his IMSA career, Harry Gottsacker raced inside the top five throughout the first two hours, but the #21 team recognized issues with the fuel after his first stop. He had only received a portion of the intended fuel. Despite this issue, the #21 team worked hard throughout the race managed to bring the car home inside the top-ten.
The IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge features two 4-hour endurance races each year. Sunday's event usually takes place annually at Watkins Glen International Raceway before the 4th of July in New York. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions in New York, the race was rescheduled and moved to Road Atlanta. Next up: BHA heads to Mid-Ohio for a double-header September 26 - 27. For more information, visit www.bryanhertaautosport.com
Winners: #33 Hyundai Veloster N TCR
Drivers: Gabby Chaves and Ryan Norman
Qualified: 4th (Norman) Finished: 1st Championship: 1st
Gabby Chaves (finished): "There was a lot of pressure out there today to save fuel and to be able to bring it home for Hyundai. This win is significant for the team and especially for Hyundai Hope on Wheels. September is Pediatric Cancer awareness month, and we carry the Hyundai Hope on Wheels logo with pride. We also carry the Reese is a Beast logo on the #33 car for Reese Imhoff and today, the #33 definitely was a beast! My Veloster was so good in these conditions. It was hot out there, managing the traffic, and saving fuel without losing too much lap time was the name of the game. We knew what we needed to do, we were committed to it and it paid off. Just a great day overall."
Ryan Norman: "It was a great day. I knew the #33 Veloster was going to be fast. Just the way the GS traffic worked out, I was able to create a gap to the other TCR cars and we ran consistent laps. The pit stops were fantastic and the driver changes were really good. Gabby and I have been working on that a lot. Gabby had a lot of work to do with fuel saving, but he's really good at it, and just like at Road America, he got it done. We are so happy to have the #33 back in winners circle for Hyundai's fourth straight win!"
2nd: #29 Vertical Bridge Hyundai Veloster N TCR
Drivers: Parker Chase and Spencer Brockman
Qualified: 6th (Brockman) Finished: 2nd Championship: 11th
Parker Chase (finished): “It was a little stressful with the fuel saving out there, but I had a great car. Spencer and I are taking advantage of our resources at Bryan Herta Autosport. It's great to lead races and finish up on the podium again in the #29 Vertical Bridge Veloster."
Spencer Brockman: "We started sixth and got stuck behind some GS traffic in the first stint, so we changed directions with our strategy and pitted early for fuel and tires. I went back out and then we caught a yellow flag almost immediately, which put us a lap down. We were able to get our lap back fairly quickly, and I caught back up to the field before turning it over to Parker. He was awesome out there. It was a tough, long stint for him, and we're really happy for another strong finish for Hyundai."
5th: #98 Hyundai Veloster N TCR
Drivers: Mason Filippi and Michael Lewis
Qualified: 5th (Lewis) Finished: 5th Championship: 3rd
Mason Filippi: "The #98 crew was just unbelievable today. Over and over, every pit stop was perfect, which put us back up in the top-five. Congrats to our teammates in the #33 car and the #29 car on their great results. This team never gives up, points are so important and we maximized today despite the troubles we had. When you have a fast car, fast teammate, and fast crew, it allows you to recover from tough challenges."
Michael Lewis: "Congratulations to Gabby and Ryan for their win and more points for Hyundai! Mason and I worked really hard for our fifth place today, which we were really happy to get. There was a lot of chaos during the race, and we got through it. Thank you to the BHA team. They worked especially hard today with so many pit stops in the intense heat over four hours! We're looking forward to coming back strong at Mid-Ohio."
9th #21 Hyundai Veloster N TCR
Drivers: Mark Wilkins and Harry Gottsacker
Qualified:1st (Gottsacker) Finished: 9th Championship: 2nd
Mark Wilkins: "It was a frustrating day for the #21 team. Hats off to the crew. They worked so hard all day to try to sort out our issue. Our Veloster N TCR car was so fast, and I love driving here. I was having a great time irrespective of where we were running. We worked hard to finish with as many points as possible. We did that...p.9. It's a rough day for us. One of those character-building type of days. We'll come back strong at mid-Ohio. In the meantime, we'll continue to raise awareness for Pediatric Cancer Awareness month through Hyundai Hope on Wheels. I'm pleased that the team was able to kick off the month with a win, especially in the car that carries the #ReeseIsABeast logo in honor of Reese Imhoff."
Harry Gottsacker: "It was a tough finish to a good weekend at Road Atlanta. It was awesome to get my first pole position in IMSA on Saturday. We had an issue in the race with fueling that hurt our finish. I am looking forward to mid-Ohio!"
Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian:
Founded in 2009, Bryan Herta Autosport has grown from a single car Indy-Lights team into a championship winning auto racing franchise. Led by IndyCar and Sports Car star Bryan Herta, Bryan Herta Autosport has won races in every discipline they have entered, including Indy Lights, Indy Car, Global Rally Cross, and championship titles in Pirelli World Challenge and IMSA. BHA rose to prominence after winning the 2011 Indianapolis 500 in what was the final race of the Centennial Era, a celebration of 100 years of racing at The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with driver Dan Wheldon. Five years later, BHA partnered with Andretti Autosport, and defied the odds again, winning their second Indianapolis 500 with rookie driver Alexander Rossi. In 2018, BHA entered the Pirelli World Challenge in partnership with Hyundai and dominated the TCR class, winning seven races with drivers #98 Michael Lewis and #99 Mark Wilkins in the Hyundai i30N TCR, securing the team and manufacturers championships in the process. In 2019, BHA and Hyundai moved to the IMSA Michelin Sports Car Challenge, and the transition was flawless. BHA swept the series driver and team championships with driver Mark Wilkins and Michael Lewis finishing first in the #98 Hyundai Veloster N TCR and young guns Harry Gottsacker and Mason Filippi finishing second in the #21 Hyundai Veloster N TCR. For 2020, BHA continues its successful partnership with Andretti Autosport fielding the #98 U.S. Concrete Honda w/ Curb Agajanian in the IndyCar series for driver Marco Andretti and a four-car Hyundai Veloster N TCR campaign in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge with Michael Lewis and Mason Fillipi (#98), Mark Wilkins and Harry Gottsacker (#21), Gabby Chaves and Ryan Norman (#33) and Parker Chase and Spencer Brockman (#29). Bryan Herta Autosport is the U.S. sales agent and parts support representative of Hyundai TCR race cars for customer teams. For more information, visit www.bryanhertaautosport.com.
P.R. Bryan Herta Autosport
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