Benitez Hangs On For GT3 Cup Glory

Angel Benitez Jr. (25) held on to win Saturday's IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama event at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) Int'l.
Angel Benitez Jr. (25) held on to win Saturday’s IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama event at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) Int’l.

WATKINS, N.Y. – The 28 IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge drivers demonstrated sophistication and style, two words that define the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, in the 100th GT3 Cup race at Watkins Glen Int’l.

Participants in the historic competition represented the sleek and smooth Porsche image with a caution-free 45-minute sprint.

Cars lined up on a dry track at the starting grid and took some time to adjust to lack of moisture. The curbs were still wet at the start of the race due to an earlier downpour, but the 3.4-mile, 11-turn circuit dried off quickly.

The field experienced three lead changes as Madison Snow, Ashley Freiberg and Angel Benitez Jr., exchanged positions. The trio pulled away early on as Snow led from the green flag until lap five when EFFORT Racing’s Freiberg took over. The 21-year-old Freiberg led for eight laps with pressure from Benitez, who ultimately took the lead on lap 14 and held on until the checkered flag waved.

Benitez and NGT Motorsport were elated to represent Porsche in the 100th race at the storied Watkins Glen Int’l.

“Thank you to the weather, thank you to God, to NGT Motorsport and to everyone here at IMSA,” Benitez Jr. said. “It was a really hard race. We never stopped and were just pushing and pushing until the end. We’re happy to win the 100th race for Porsche.”

Benitez posted his fastest time on Lap 22 of 24. The 1:54.593 mark was enough to make the historic moment even more monumental with a new race lap record.

After being passed by Benitez with 18 minutes remaining, Freiberg held tight to the second place position and pulled away from third-place finisher Snow. Nine tenths of a second separated Benitez and Freiberg at the finish, but a 24 second gap was built between the top two and the rest of the drivers.

“It took me awhile to figure out how to get around Madison (Snow) in the beginning and then I had Angel (Benitez Jr.) behind me putting pressure,” Freiberg said. “Eventually I found a way and got a bit of a gap but the traffic was rough. Angel (Benitez Jr.) caught up to me pretty fast and we were racing clean, but definitely bumping and rubbing. He’d pass me and I’d pass him. It was a lot of fun.”

Snow with Snow Racing/Wright Motorsports found the podium for the fourth time this season with a third-place finish. The 17-year-old’s times got faster as the race went on, turning his fastest clip on lap 19 of 24, but spent the first few laps adjusting to a dry circuit.