A Labor Day race weekend in Austin wrapped up with three different SprintX winners in three races, Patrick Long nearing the overall GT points championship and a teenager from New Braunfels showing he can hang with the veterans.
Parker Chase, a 16-year-old junior at Canyon High, racked up back-to-back second-place finishes in the GTS Pro class of the Grand Prix of Texas, a Pirelli World Challenge event at Circuit of the Americas.
“This was one of the more important weekends, being in my home state and near my home town, especially with lots of family and cousins from all over Texas here,” Chase said. “The highlight had to be Saturday, going from last place to the podium.”
Chase, who drives the No. 19 Ginetta G55 for Performance Motorsports Group, said more students at Canyon are starting to catch on to what he does.
“At first a lot of them didn’t grasp it, they thought it was just a hobby for me,” he said. “I think my friends are more blown away now that they understand I’m racing professional drivers. This is my sport. I want to be a full-time race car driver.”
Chase, who will run at the season ender at Sonoma (Calif.) on Sept. 15-17, competed at St. Petersburg (Fla.), Mid-Ohio, Road America (Wis.) and twice in Europe this year. He said securing sponsorship is a major challenge and will be “searching for more race options” next year.
Sunday he finished 2.7 seconds behind Rodrigo Baptista, a 20-year-old Brazilian in the Flying Lizard Porsche Cayman GT4.
“We were reeling him in, but with about 15 minutes to go Rodrigo just pulled away,” said Chase, who began racing at age 11 at the Hill Country Kart Club in New Braunfels. “I can’t complain. All in all, another trophy for the collection.”
Arizona’s George Kurtz completed a weekend sweep in the GTS amateur class.
Ryan Dalziel and Daniel Morad, in the CRP Racing Mercedes AMG-GT3, captured the SprintX GT event, in which a first-lap smash-up created all sorts of mayhem.
Long and Joerg Bergmeister, long-time teammates who won Friday’s race in their No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, took second place, which puts Long in a strong position to claim the overall GT points title.
“This felt like a victory for us,” Long said. “After getting taken out at the start (Saturday) and given a questionable penalty, we had to re-set mentally and focus on the championship. We accomplished that.”
Drivers said they enjoyed their Austin experience.
“This is one of the best cities, and the track is world class,” said Dalziel, a 35-year-old from Glasgow, Scotland. “I’d like to keep coming back here.”
Scratch that win: Austin’s Scott Dollahite finished first in Saturday’s GTS race, but later that night PWC officials announced that he was provisionally disqualified. His No. 46 SDR Motorsports Lotus Evora failed post-race technical inspection because the car was set up too low, which can give a driver an aerodynamic advantage.
The DQ gives England’s Ian James the provisional victory, his fifth of the season. Final results will be posted after all stewards’ reviews and technical inspection are complete.
Dollahite, forced to start in the back of Sunday’s 23-car field, passed 16 racers before running out of time and finishing seventh.
One for Canada: Quebec’s Nick Wittmer drove his No. 91 BMW M235iR to a narrow victory over Texan Toby Grahovec of Celina in the Touring Car class Sunday. The margin was just 0.27 seconds. Kenny Murillo took the TCA class and Jake Pipal won the TCB.
Austin’s Jeff Sexton, in the No. 89 Winding Road Mazda Global MX-5 grabbed second in TCA, less than 2 seconds behind Murillo. Daren Jorgensen, another Austinite, was 23rd among 44 cars.