The action came early and fast in the debut race of the IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge on Saturday. Once things settled into a rhythm, Dan Goldburg and Billy Griffin logged their names into the record book as first-ever race winners in their classes.
Dan Goldburg capitalized on a first-lap, first-turn miscue by pole sitter Bijoy Garg to take the overall and Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) class lead that he never surrendered. Griffin, pole sitter in the GSX class, lost his lead on the opening lap but recovered the top spot on Lap 3 and never looked back.
Goldburg, driving the No. 73 JDC MotorSports Duqueine D08, started second in the 45-minute sprint race but had to check up when Garg locked up the brakes on his No. 3 Jr III Racing Ligier JS P320 heading into Turn 1 of the road course that leads to the infield section at Daytona International Speedway. Lance Willsey snuck briefly ahead in the No. 30 Sean Creech Motorsport Ligier until Goldburg recovered and took the lead for good midway through the opening lap.
“Coming into (Turn) 1, it seemed like Bijoy was braking kind of in a weird spot,” Goldburg said. “He didn’t take the natural line so I was immediately a little cautious. I was just playing it safe and took it out wide and around, and then Lance got through.
“I was able to get by him pretty quick and then just put my head down and tried to build a gap. This is really special to be here in Daytona victory lane. It’s quite a spot! I couldn’t be happier.”
Brian Thienes finished second in the No. 77 US RaceTronics Ligier, 22.808 seconds behind Goldburg. Garg recovered after falling to the back of the field following the opening-lap spin to finish third.
In the GSX class for GT4-specification cars, Griffin started first in the No. 14 KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4 but fell to third on the opening lap. He rebounded just as quickly, going from third to first on Lap 3 with the help of a spin by Sebastian Carazo in the No. 27 Kellymoss with Riley Porsche 718 GT4 RS Clubsport that was running second.
Like Goldburg in LMP3, once Griffin snatched first place in GSX, he led the rest of the way and finished 12.717 seconds ahead of Moisey Uretsky in the No. 44 Accelerating Performance Aston Martin Vantage GT4. It culminated an amazing day for Griffin, making his debut in any IMSA series.
“It’s unbelievable, it’s an absolute dream come true for me,” the resident of Jupiter, Florida, said. “It’s been a dream come true just to get to IMSA alone, let alone getting pole and to win the first race ever in GSX. I was really glad that IMSA came up with this sprint-race challenge series.”
Patrick Wilmot crossed the finish line third in GSX, in the No. 88 Split Decision Motorsports BMW M4 GT4, but the car was found to have suspension components in conflict with GSX technical regulations during postrace inspection and moved to the rear of the class. That moved the No. 25 Auto Technic Racing BMW driven by Rob Walker to third in the GSX provisional results.
Goldburg and Griffin will start from their respective pole positions in Race 2 on Sunday, which starts at 12:20 p.m. ET and airs live on Peacock.