AUSTIN, Texas – Michael Cooper capped a Pirelli GT4 America Sprint Championship clinching weekend at Circuit of the Americas with another victory Sunday morning, his 11th on the season.
Drew Staveley finished second, while Am division winner Michael Dinan finished third overall and unofficially clinched the Am division championship. Paul Terry finished fourth overall and second in Am, while Cooper’s teammate Tony Gaples finished fifth overall and third in Am.
Cooper, in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop McLaren 570s GT4, started from pole and led the field to green to start the 50-minute contest. Dinan started from back of the field after a family commitment kept him out of Saturday’s race. Without a completed lap time from the day before, he was pushed to the back of the grid.
Jeff Burton led the Am field through turn one, while Dinan moved up two spots immediately.
As they did on Saturday, Cooper and Staveley began a multi-lap 50-minute intense battle with Staveley constantly looking for a way by and Cooper refused to succumb to the pressure. Burton slotted into third overall and first in Am.
By lap five, Terry continued his constant pressure on Burton and made a late braking maneuver through turn 20 and powered into the lead down the front straight. Dinan continued his march and had moved up into sixth and fourth in Am. A four-car battle emerged with Terry leading, Burton in second, Gaples in the third and Dinan in fourth. Dinan, then began to look for a way around Gaples and succeeded through turn 20 at the end of lap five.
On lap eight, Burton spun through turn 19 dropping him back to sixth, allowing Dinan to move up into second. Behind the leaders, Jason Bell and Sean Quinlan made contact. While Quinlan attempted to limp his wounded machine back to the pits, Dinan began pressuring Terry and eventually passed him for the lead. A full-course yellow then resulted as Quinlan’s machine sat dead on the track.
With the clock ticking down to 10 minutes left in the contest, Cooper led the field to the restart and immediately had to hold off Staveley’s attempts to pass for the lead. Dinan led the Am field to the restart and behind him at the end of the restart lap through turn 20, Gaples ran wide and Terry moved up into second.
Cooper continued his masterful defending against a hard charging Staveley and withstood the pressure to cross the line .609 seconds ahead at the checkered. Dinan crossed third overall and 12 seconds up on Terry.
“We came into the weekend and maximized the points and scored three wins,” said Cooper. “This Blackdog Speedshop team just operates at such a high level. I think for the team this is their fifth series driver’s championship and third manufacturer’s championship.”
“It’s definitely something I’m proud of and I’m super happy, it’s another step along the way. Last year was a big learning experience. It’s another step to my ultimate goal in racing and I’m really happy to have the championship clinched,” said Dinan.