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ALMS: Circuit of the Americas – Tough GT fight ends Garcia, Bomarito, Muller

Chris McMurry (Dyson Racing Lola B12/60 Mazda) took the lead from pole-sitter Lucas Luhr (Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD ARX-03s) at the start, but Luhr had retaken it and opened a 3.894-sec gap by the end of Lap 1. Tommy Milner (Corvette Racing C6 ZR1) was the GT leader after two laps over Jonathan Bomarito (SRT Motorsports Viper GTS-R), with class pole-sitter Bill Auberlen (BMW Team RLL Z4 GTE) 4.8-sec back in P8. Bomarito was fighting Milner hard for the lead during the fourth lap.

Scott Tucker led Level 5 Motorsport teammate Guy Cosmo (HPD ARX-03b) in P2 during Lap 5. Bomarito continued to fight Milner, with Milner’s teammate Jan Magnussen taking the class lead over both as they went wide. Johannes van Overbeek (Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b) took the P2 lead from Tucker and Cosmo during Lap 6.

Bomarito took the GT lead from Magnussen about 20 min into the 2 hr 45 min race with Matteo Malucelli (Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia) moving into third.  Milner started fading through the field with gearbox problems 33 min into the race, reports indicating the car was stuck in second gear.

Magnussen pitted 49 min in, with Antonio Garcia taking over. Van Overbeek also pitted and made a driver change. Team owner Ed Brown had a hard time getting behind the wheel, extending the stop. Luhr made his first top 53 min into the race, staying in the car. Milner’s series-points leading Corvette retired 5 min later.

With 1 hr gone, Luhr remained the overall lead ahead of Tony Burgess in the Mazda. Cosmo and Tucker were 1-2 in P2, but had yet to pit. Malucelli ran first in GT but also still needed to pit.  

With 48 min to go Graf was in the overall lead for Muscle Milk Pickett, more than a lap ahead of McMurry. Marino Franchitti and Ryan Briscoe ran first and second for Level 5 in P2, with Garcia, Dirk Muller (RLL), and Joey Hand (RLL) 1-3 in GT. Muller was on Garcia’s tail approaching the 30-min mark, nearly making the pass for the lead when Garcia ran wide. Briscoe took the P2 lead from Franchitti.

The Garcia-Mueller battle continued, with the BMW pressing hard from behind. Bomarito pulled onto the back of Mueller with 3 min to go. Bomarito took second going through Turn 1 with less than 2 min left, but Garcia built his lead in the meantime.

Graf took the race win, with Briscoe and Franchitti remaing the Top 2 in P2, followed by Jvan Overbeek one lap back. The tightest race of the Top 3 classes was GT, with Garcia holding on for the win over Bomarito and Muller. Hand finished fourth, one lap down.

The win was Garcia and Magnussen’s second in a row and earned them the series points lead.

 

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