Matt McMurry added another honor to a season to remember, earning his first career Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda victory Thursday, Oct. 2 at Road Atlanta.
McMurry, from Phoenix, beat runner-up Jon Brownson to the finish by 1.276 seconds after a restart with less than three minutes remaining in the 30-minute race. McMurry, 16, led the entire race after starting from the pole in the No. 20 JDC Motorsports entry.
“I led the whole race and got a bunch of really good restarts,” McMurry said. “I’ve been here a bunch of times, so that helps because I have a lot of experience here, and the car was perfect; it’s been great the whole weekend. So that made it a lot easier to do well.”
|Lites 1 podium finishers (from left): Christian Potolicchio, Matt McMurry, Jon Brownson
Masters competitor Brownson, from Breckenridge, Colorado, earned his first overall podium finish and first Masters victory of the season in the No. 34 Eurosport Racing Élan DP02 chassis powered by a Mazda engine. Christian Potolicchio, from Hallandale Beach, Florida, finished third overall after starting 13th in the No. 2 8Star Motorsports entry.
John Falb, from Las Vegas, clinched the Lites 1 Masters championship in the No. 77 ONE Motorsports car with his second-place finish in the class.
ONE Motorsports also earned a top step on the podium as Todd Slusher, from Las Vegas, won the Lites 2 category in the team’s No. 62 car.
McMurry became the second-youngest winner in series history behind Tristan Nunez in 2012. The victory added another important entry to McMurry’s growing resumé of success in his mid-teens. He made history in June by becoming the youngest driver ever to compete in the world’s most prestigious endurance race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Restarts played a big role in McMurry’s victory. He powered away from the field after two full-course cautions.
The final restart came with two minutes, 25 seconds remaining in the 30-minute race. McMurry eased away from Brownson for the final two-lap sprint to the checkered flag, leading after the first lap by .714 of a second and adding another half-second to the gap on his final trip around the 12-turn, 2.54-mile circuit.
|Lites 1 Masters podium finishers (from left): John Falb, Jon Brownson, Joel Janco
Brownson started fifth overall and first in Masters and held that spot with power throughout the race. He held steady while three drivers ahead of him were involved in incidents or had mechanical problems to earn his first overall podium finish of the season.
“I’m happy to come away with a second overall and first place in the Masters,” the colorful Brownson said with a smile. “I’d say that’s half-fast for an old guy, but you have to be careful with your diction or it comes out sounding like half-ass.”
Falb also avoided the off-track excursions of others early in the race and pulled into second in Masters early in the race, holding that spot until the finish to clinch the championship in his first season in the class.
The runner-up finish was Falb’s eighth podium finish in 13 starts this season, as consistency delivered him the final title still available this season in the series.
“It feels unbelievable to get the championship,” Falb said. “I’m ecstatic. I started the season hoping to learn and do well. We had a few bad races there in the beginning, but we just kept showing up, suiting up and pounding out laps. To take home the Masters Championship in the first year is just a huge, huge success.”
Joel Janco, from Key Largo, Florida, finished third in the class in the No. 25 Performance Tech Motorsports entry. It was his second podium finish of the season.
|Lites 2 podium finishers (from left): Max DeAngelis, Todd Slusher, John Salmon
Slusher started from pole and earned his second victory and seventh consecutive podium finish of the season since joining the class in mid-July at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Series rookie Slusher lost the lead briefly to two-time and reigning Lites 2 series champion Brian Alder. But he wasted little time passing Alder for the lead and driving away for the victory.
“I’m ecstatic and really happy,” Slusher said. “I had a great race. I have a great coach this year, Sean Rayhall, the winner of Lites last year. He’s really done a great job with me. I’m pretty new to this sport, so it’s really been gratifying for me this year.”
Max DeAngelis, from Belle River, Canada, finished second in the No. 7 Eurosport Racing car in his first start in the series in two years. John Salmon, from Lynchburg, Virginia, finished third to earn his third podium finish in three starts this season in the No. 46 V.I.P.E.R. entry.
The season-ending Round 14, a 45-minute race, is scheduled to start at 9:10 a.m. (ET) Friday. For live updates on all the action, follow @IMSALive on Twitter.
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