By Mark Robinson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A total of 36 cars – the most since the January opener – are prepared to wage battle and decide championships this week at Sebring International Raceway in the final race of the 2020 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season.
The entry list for the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 includes 24 cars in the Grand Sport (GS) and 12 in the Touring Car (TCR) classes, with titles still up for grabs in each. Only the BMW Endurance Challenge that kicked off the season at Daytona International Speedway nine months ago had more entries (51) this year.
Kyle Marcelli and Nate Stacy, drivers of the No. 60 KohR Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage GT4, are trying to wrest away the GS driver and team titles from reigning champions Tyler McQuarrie and Jeff Westphal in the No. 39 CarBahn with Peregrine racing Audi R8 GT4. The No. 60 holds a 15-point advantage heading into Friday’s race, but the No. 39 is riding a momentum wave from winning the most recent race, Oct. 31 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. McQuarrie and Westphal have also bagged victories in the last two Pilot Challenge races at Sebring – in March 2019 and July 2020.
There’s also an intense battle for third in GS points, with Eric Foss and Jeff Mosing (No. 56 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT GT4) one point ahead of Jim Cox and Dylan Murry (No. 35 Riley Motorsports Mercedes), four points ahead of Russell Ward (No. 4 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT GT4), 12 points ahead of Robby Foley (No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT4) and 14 up on Bryce Ward (No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes).
All of those drivers and teams will play a pivotal role in deciding the GS manufacturer championship, which has Aston Martin three points ahead of Mercedes-AMG and five ahead of Audi going into race weekend.
The TCR driver and team chases are even tighter, with the top four entries covered by 14 points. Gabby Chaves and Ryan Norman (No. 33 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian Hyundai Veloster N TCR) moved into the lead after winning at WeatherTech Raceway on Oct. 31.
They are four points up on No. 98 BHA teammates Mason Filippi and Michael Lewis, with Gavin Ernstone and Jon Morley (No. 61 Road Shagger Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR) 12 points behind the leaders and Harry Gottsacker and Mark Wilkins (No. 21 BHA Hyundai) 14 points back. Gottsacker and Wilkins won at Sebring in July. Hyundai, which has won six of the nine TCR races this season, is set to claim the class manufacturer crown by starting the race.
Other items of interest from the entry list:
- Three cars in GS are set to make their second start of the season. The No. 24 Ian Lacy Racing Ford Mustang GT4 (drivers Drew Staveley and Frank Gannett) and No. 43 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW (Gregory Liefooghe and Sean Quinlan) competed in the season opener at Daytona. The No. 10 LAP Motorsports Mercedes (Anton Dias Perera and Dan Clarke) debuted last month at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
- In TCR, the No. 27 Copeland Motorsports Hyundai returns after making a most impressive series debut when 16-year-old drivers Tyler Maxson and Tyler Gonzalez finished second last month at Michelin Raceway. Another new team makes its debut at Sebring, the No. 91 van der Steur Racing Hyundai with drivers Danny Formal and Rory van der Steur. Formal is also competing in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America event this weekend at Sebring.
Pilot Challenge action begins Thursday at Sebring with two practice sessions and qualifying. Live coverage of the two-hour race starts at noon ET Friday via TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.