After a double full-course yellow condition from the start of the race, inception racing’s Brendan Iribe ran a flag-to-flag master class to win the penultimate GT America race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His win comes after an extended period away from GT America competition and has him top the SRO3 overall field for the race as well as setting the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap for another P1 start for Race 2 on Saturday.
Charlie Luck (No. 45 Wright Motorsports Porsche) captured the Masters class win with his second overall finish, while Elias Sabo (No. 8 GMG Racing Audi) took home the GT2 honors.
Jason Bell (No. 2 GMG Racing Aston Martin) duplicated the flag-to-flag win and set himself up for a white-hot season finale on Saturday to determine the inaugural class championship.
With both the No. 91 (Rearden Racing Lamborghini) car of Jeff Burton and the No. 101 (TKO Motorsports Bentley) of Memo Gidley starting at the back of the grid for circumstances regarding equipment issues, the qualifying field became further unsettled as the race started under FCY conditions due to a No Start call from the officials. Upon the restart, a number of cars captured a few positions in the opening lap shuffle including; Kyle Washington (No. 32 GMG Racing Porsche) who was up three spots into third overall, Grey Newell (No. 25 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin) who was also up three spots into podium poisition for the GT4 class; Gidley who cleared 12 GT4 traffic positions to get closer to the SRO3 field followed not far behind by Burton, who recaptured nine spots; and Jason Harward (No. 88 Zelus Motorsports Lamborghini) who started at the tail end of the grid in the last row with Burton.
Before the end of the first lap, the No. 60 Dexter Racing Ginetta 56 of Matt Rivard found itself in the gravel pits and in need of tow, creating the second full-course yellow before completion of a full lap under green conditions. After the second start and with 10 minutes clicked off the clock, Iribe began to work on growing the lead while Luck and Washington battled for the second overall position. Slightly further back, Gidley had cleared even more traffic and slotted into the fifth overall spot and into working on in-class competitors, including Andy Wilzoch (No. 460 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche) who was in fourth and, behind non-class traffic, Harward charging from the back of the pack to the eighth overall spot and sixth in-class.
In GT4, Jason Bell had managed to pass points leader and class pole-sitter Sean Quinlan (No. 119 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW), as did P5 class-qualifier Gray Newell (No. 25 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin) who now found himself slotted into second place in GT4. GT2 competitor Elias Sabo (No. 8 GMG Racing Audi) also found himself clear of most other GT4 traffic with sights set on the SRO3 pack after clearing the GT4 frontrunners.
Toward the middle and further ends of the field, the competitors began to settle in strategic battles and cat-and-mouse games for points-positioning. By the halfway point of the race, the entire SRO3 field had compressed while the GT4 contigent sat unbroken from pole-sitter Bell to Rivard, who again had another off-track excursion that alllowed him to continue but fail to improve beyond the back of the pack. In SRO3, Gidley had worked his way up to a third overall with Harward in fifth and continuing his assault for a podium position. Burton, too, had come up as far as eight-place overall and seemed intent on climbing further in the second half.
At the same time, Bell and Newell maintained comfortable gaps to the each other and the next nearest in-class competitor, Quinlan, who was in third place in front of a battling Thomas Surgent (No. 26 Prive Motorsports/Topp Racing McLaren) and Scott Noble (No. 49 NOLASPORT Porsche) vying for fourth and a chance at the class podium.
At around 17 minutes remaining, Gidley’s Bentley suddenly appeared uncharacteristically slow and well off racing pace, allowing both Harward and eventually Wilzoch to slide by and prepare to set up Washington for the third-place positioning. Gidley brought the car in for some extra security in holding down the hood, but his return to the race ultimately negated the monstrous drive he made running from the back row of a 20-car field all the way up to fourth place, setting him all the way back into 18th overall after the pit stop. Still up into the Top eight after capturing nine positions from the qualifying grid was CJ Moses (No. 58 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG), who bookended the SRO3 and GT2 competitor fields.
With just under 10 minutes remaining in the field, Surgent had an off-track excursion that ended with the No. 26 McLaren retiring from the competition and returning to pit lane, opening up the position to Noble without causing a full field pause in action. No one was able to close down the gaps large enough to be a threat to the long-running order, so the GT4 podium was ultimately known well before the checkered dropped; Bell up front for the win, Newell adding a second place podium to his growing collection, and Quinlan settling in for third.
At the three-minute mark, Harward turned up the heat and went into a relentless attack on Washington for the overall third-place position. Corner after corner the two volleyed offensive and defensive moves but it was apparent that Harward didn’t have the tire life to make the aggressive move needed to pass for the last podium spot, and he settled into fourth without a hardware award but armed with a 16-position gain from a stellar driving performance.
Champions will be crowned and determined on Saturday when the green flag drops for the final time this season at 12:05 p.m. ET for 40 minutes at the Brickyard. Watch it live on the GTWorld YouTube channel, catch the audio simulcast on SiriusXM Satellite Radio Ch. 392 (or 992 on the web app) and follow along on live timing and scoring at gtamerica.us.