Benitez Wraps Up Sebring GT3 Sweep

Angel Benitez Jr. completed a sweep of the Porsche GT3 Cup USA events at Sebring (Fla.) Int'l Raceway on Friday. (Michael Levitt/LAT Photo)
Angel Benitez Jr. completed a sweep of the Porsche GT3 Cup USA events at Sebring (Fla.) Int'l Raceway on Friday. (Michael Levitt/LAT Photo)
Angel Benitez Jr. completed a sweep of the Porsche GT3 Cup USA events at Sebring (Fla.) Int’l Raceway on Friday. (Michael Levitt/LAT Photo)

SEBRING, Fla. – Angel Benitez Jr. completed his second consecutive event sweep in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA competition at Sebring Int’l Raceway with a dominant victory Friday.

Benitez led every lap of the 45-minute race for the second straight day in the No. 05 Formula Motorsport/Avid Motorsport 911 GT3 Cup Platinum Cup car. He beat fellow young star Colin Thompson – who also finished second Thursday in the No. 14 Kelly-Moss Motorsports entry – to the line by 3.735 seconds Friday. Sloan Urry finished third in the No. 20 JDX Racing 911 GT3 Cup car.

Venezuela native Benitez won both races last year at Sebring for NGT Motorsport. This season, he moved to his family-owned Formula Motorsport/Avid Motorsport team without a single misstep, starting from the pole and staying out front for both races on the 17-turn, 3.74-mile circuit.

“I have to thank my dad for everything,” Benitez said. “It was a team effort. They did a great job with the car. We worked a lot of overtime. I think I had a lot of pressure because they try a lot and they work a lot. So I’m really happy to be here.

“I love this series. Of course, I love to race with Porsche. I think it’s a nice car. You can slide the car but still control it. The Yokohama tires, the car is perfect with that grip. Thanks to everyone for their support and to IMSA for doing a great job with this series.”

Despite leading every lap, Benitez maintained inch-perfect focus during the first race in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series history at Sebring without a full-course caution. Fast, clean, competition occurred all over the historic circuit for the entire round during the opening event of 2014, setting up a season of intense, high-quality racing.

Thompson climbed from seventh to second Thursday and also worked to earn his second consecutive podium spot Friday. He climbed from fourth to second in the second race during his initial weekend with the powerful Kelly-Moss Motorsports team.

Urry ran second behind Benitez until Thompson passed him with about 10 minutes remaining. He still held on for his first podium of the season in the No. 20 JDX Racing entry.

Kasey Kuhlman finished fourth overall and won the Platinum Cup Masters class in the No. 15 Wright Motorsports entry.

“My job today was just to make no mistakes,” Kuhlman said. “I had a top-five car yesterday and threw it away with two spins. So today was just about hitting my marks, maintaining my pace, make no mistakes and take advantage of mistakes the other ones made, and that’s what I did. I feel awesome about this one.”

Patrick-Otto Madsen won the Gold Cup class in the No. 99 ANSA Motorsports entry after starting from the Gold pole in both races. Madsen rallied from a disappointing finish Thursday due to mechanical problems suffered in contact after also starting from the Gold pole.

“I had a good race today,” Madsen said. “The car was excellent. ANSA Motorsports gave me a great car. The car was neutral, and I was able to push as hard as I can. Yesterday I got taken out, so I really had to rebound today and do my job. I had to stay out of trouble.”

John Baker was the first Gold Cup Masters finisher in the No. 47 Wright Motorsports entry. Baker battled Jeff Mosing of Topp Racing for the overall Gold victory Thursday when they collided on the last lap, opening the door for Bill Peluchiwski to win the class in his No. 74 Kelly-Moss Motorsports entry.

“It was cold at the start,” Baker said. “Braking points were a little farther away. It took a little longer for the tires to heat up. I got through the first couple of laps. Normally there’s a lot of traffic, and we settled down. I was able to work my way through and was able to make it up to P2. It got a little bit slippery at the end, but I think it was a perfect day. Great track. You’ve got to love Sebring.”

Blair Chang earned the Yokohama Hard Charger Award on Friday after climbing from the 32nd starting position to finish 20th in the No. 09 Competition Motorsports Gold Cup 911 GT3 Cup entry.