Cooper Recovers For VIR GT4 America Triumph

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Michael Cooper raced to victory in Saturday's GT4 America Sprint race at Virginia Int'l Raceway.
Michael Cooper raced to victory in Saturday's GT4 America Sprint race at Virginia Int'l Raceway.

ALTON, Va. – Michael Cooper was able to rebound from a difficult start on Friday to win Saturday’s Pirelli GT4 America Sprint event at Virginia Int’l Raceway.

Friday’s race winner Spencer Pumpelly led the field to the green flag, with Cooper starting fourth. Cooper quickly got around Drew Stavele to take control of third position and went on the attack for second position, which was held by Jarrett Andretti.

Two laps later, with 43 minutes remaining, Cooper made a late-braking pass on the inside of turn four to take over second and then went in pursuit of Pumpelly, who had by then pulled a five second lead.

In the Am category, Jeff Courtney sat fifth overall, first in class, and was able to manage a four second lead over the rest of the field while also closing on Staveley for fourth overall.  Behind Courtney, Christopher Gumprecht and Michael Dinan battled for second in class, sixth overall.

With 31 minutes remaining Courtney spun on his own at turn three, falling to eighth in class, giving the Am lead to Gumprecht, with Dinan hot in pursuit.

Three minutes later, Dinan would get past Gumprecht at turn four to take over first in Am, fifth overall. Sean Quinlan would run third in class, seventh overall.

With 17 minutes remaining, Cooper had closed to within 3.5 seconds of Pumpelly as a full course caution was called for Mark Klenin’s No. 62 KPR SIN R1 GT4, which sat stranded on track.

The race went back to green with less than 14 minutes remaining and as the field entered turn five, Cooper went to the outside of Pumpelly to grab the lead. Cooper never looked back and went on to take the victory, his second of the season.

“I figured it would be a short yellow so I started just scrubbing my tires like crazy,” Cooper said. “Spencer slid wide at (turn) four, so I was able to get up next to him and make the pass on the next turn. It feels great for Blackdog and McLaren to get the win. We had multiple issues yesterday, so to come back and get the win gives us momentum for tomorrow and the rest of the year.”

Andretti would then get past Pumpelly for second position at turn 15, with Pumpelly regaining the position at turn one on the next lap.  Pumpelly would go on to finish second, followed by Andretti and Staveley. Pumpelly would also set the race’s fastest lap of 1:54.424, giving him pole for Sunday’s race third race of the weekend.

While the pro battle raged on, Dinan stretched the Am lead to 2.5 seconds with Courtney working his way back up to fourth in class with eight minutes left on the clock. Courtney would then get past Quinlan for third in class, eighth overall. Courtney’s speed would continue as he would then get past Gumprecht for second in class and also Pro James Pesek for sixth overall.

As the checkers waved Dinan would take the Am victory, his third in four races, with Courtney and Gumprecht rounding out the podium.