“One for the old guys!” said driver Alan Metni as he emerged from his No. 99 No. 99 Kelly-Moss/AM Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car in victory lane at VIRginia International Raceway Sunday morning.
It was the first time Metni was presented the checkered flag, emblematic of an overall Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama race victory, touching off a hard-earned and long-awaited celebration for the 53-year-old racer.
Metni has collected his fair share of first-place trophies in the Platinum Masters class for drivers 45 years and older. He’d even finished second overall – as recently as Saturday’s race at VIR – and has raced in the Platinum Cup class for current-generation 911 GT3 Cup cars since 2018.
In Sunday’s second race of the weekend doubleheader at VIR, Metni started from the pole position for the first time in his career after recording the fastest lap in Race 1. He faced a torturous, 45 minutes of pressure from a variety of younger drivers and only pulled a gap when they battled amongst each other.
However, a final caution and restart with only a handful of laps remaining meant Metni had to fight even harder. His teammate Jeff Kingsley in the No. 16 Porsche pulled alongside coming to the green flag and the two battled door-to-door for a few turns before Metni got the advantage. He went on to win by just .547 seconds.
“It’s fitting that it happens there, this is the first place I ever podiumed three-and-a-half years ago in (the) Gold (Cup class, for previous-generation cars). I’m really happy to have it happen here.
“I just had to keep my head down and racing my race and driving as close to the perfect lap as I could come up with. Fortunately, when they tangled with each other, they slowed each other down a little bit, gave me a little room to breathe. The guys at Kelly-Moss gave me a great car. The race is won in the training and this is the hardest working team in motorsports today.”
Kingsley, who finished first in Saturday’s race, extended his lead in the point standings by seven, 134-127, over Metni and nine points over Riley Dickinson in the No. 53 Moorespeed Porsche. Dickinson started second on Sunday behind Metni but a spin early in the race sent him down the ranks. The Texan fought back for a third-place finish.
“The points are the most important thing at the end of the day, so I’m happy with that,” said Kingsley. “Congratulations to Alan, he drove an awesome race. That’s his first overall win and he’s been wanting that for a while. Him and his team have been working super hard for that, proud of him. Of course, that’s what I want, but I’m also a team player. I’m glad he had that and a 1-2 for Kelly Moss and a 1-2-3 yesterday.”
Curt Swearingin took home a trio of trophies over the course of the weekend in the Gold Cup class. Swearingin swept the class’ two victories in the No. 17 ACI Motorsports Porsche and earned the Yokohama Hard Charger Award on Sunday as the Gold Cup competitor who gained the most positions throughout the race.
It capped a challenging but rewarding weekend for the ACI team. After a testing incident on Monday, the team had to prepare the backup car in two days’ time in its Tennessee shop in order for Swearingin to race at VIR.
“We had to work hard in Race 1 to win it,” Swearingin reflected. “We came back and got a good start here and just led it flag-to-flag. Our team did awesome. We made a few changes overnight and the car was better. We just had a good time.
“It shows the old guys can do it,” the 49-year-old added about Metni’s win. “I’m really happy for him. He’s worked really hard to get there so he deserves it.
Rounds 5 and 6 of the 2020 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama season are scheduled for Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Sept. 4-6. The first race will take place on Sunday, Sept. 5 at 9:30 a.m. ET, with Race 2 set for Sunday at 8 a.m. Both races can be streamed live on IMSA.com with IMSA Radio commentary.