WATKINS GLEN – After traveling the world seeking sports car racing success for the better part of the last several years, Eric Lux achieved his most special victory just a couple of hours away from home when the Williamsville native, along with his two co-drivers, emerged victorious in the LMP2 category of the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen Sunday at Watkins Glen International.
Lux and his No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports Rembrandt Charms ORECA LMP2 co-drivers, fellow American Matthew McMurry and France's Gabriel Aubry took the checkered flag when McMurry crossed the finish line. The winning squad beat the only other entry in Sunday's LMP2 field, the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports team featuring co-drivers Kyle Masson, Cameron Cassels and Andrew Evans.
The Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen is part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Four classes, LMP2, DPI, GTLM and GTD participated in Sunday's Sahlen's race.
Lux, who now resides in Clarence, was ecstatic with Sunday's win at his home track.
"Wow, this feels great," Lux said in Victory Lane. "I don't know how many times I've done this race but more than a few and it sure feels good to finally be on the top step here. This is one of the best tracks in the world. This IMSA racing is most competitive. Even though we'd like more cars in our category, managing traffic out there with that many other cars and classes is a constant dogfight. To be on the top step required a great job from everybody. That's what we did today. Matthew and Gabriel did a super job, too."
Aubry, who qualified the car on the pole Saturday, started Sunday's race, taking the top spot over Masson. Masson then assumed the lead about 32 minutes into the six-hour contest. Lux took over the driving chores from Aubry during the team's first pit stop about 50 minutes into the race. Lux eventually made his first stop, staying in the car.
Lux made another pit stop with the field under caution 1 hour, 50 minutes into the race for routine service, again staying behind the wheel. On the team's fourth pit stop, while still second in class, Lux jumped out of the car and McMurry climbed aboard to begin his stint with a little over three hours left in the event. Lux had been in the car about two hours total.
"It's a fast race pace out there," Lux said. "It looks like we got the cautions out of the way early on. It was just pedal down and keep it clean. There was no holding back. I made sure not to overdo it and blister the tires. I completed the minimum drive time that I have to do."
Once in the car, McMurry was able to wrestle the top spot back from Evans, who was now in the No. 38 machine. McMurry had an unnecessary thrill occur in Turn 1 with 2 hours, 26 seconds left when McMurry spun in an incident involving he and the No. 7 Acura Team Penske DPI driven by Helio Castroneves.
McMurry pulled away from the scene, maintaining the LMP2 class lead over Evans. From there, Aubry did a final stint before McMurry got back in the car again.
From there McMurry took it the distance to the checkered flag. The No. 38 machine did not finish the race, after suffering drive shaft problems related to a late race accident.
Sunday's win was the second IMSA WeatherTech LMP2 triumph for the PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports team this season. Lux and McMurry won at Mid-Ohio in May.
Mazda curse over
The Mazda DPI class curse is over and the demons have been driven away. After winning poles and often being the fastest at various tracks on the IMSA WeatherTech circuit over the last two years, often anything that could go wrong in races would go wrong including mechanical breakdowns, engine fires, driver errors and pit stop snafus that would find the team snag defeat from the jaws of victory.
The curse was finally blown away Sunday when the Mazda camp broke their painful Victory Lane jinx in smashing style in the top-ranked DPI class. When Mazda Team Joest No. 55 driver Harry Tincknell crossed the finish line first it brought both joy and relief. To put the Mazda explanation point on the race, the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest DPI driver Oliver Jarvis brought the sister team car home to the checkered flag in second.
Tincknell co-drove with Jonathan Bomarito and Oliver Pla. Jarvis was teamed with Tristan Nunez and Timo Bernhard.
"It's been a great weekend," Tincknell said. "We knew we had the pace. We knew we had the cars. We just had to go and get it done. It's been a little while coming. I feel very lucky to be racing with Mazda and Team Joest."
Mazda was leading comfortably all race long until losing the top spot on pit stop exchanges under caution with just over an hour remaining in the race. Juan Pablo Montoya, driving the No. 6 Acura Team Penske DPI, snatched the lead for the restart with Tincknell and Jarvis next. Tincknell was not to be denied, grabbing the lead from Montoya with 42 minutes remaining. Following final pit stops with a half hour to go Tincknell sped to the win over Jarvis.
GT class winners
The No. 911 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR featuring drivers Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet were victorious in the GTLM class while the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 trio of Mario Farnbacher, Trent Hindman and Justin Marks were best in GTD.
Lap 1 crash
The race began with a wild crash on the first lap at the top of the Esses when the GTLM class No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR driven by Laurens Vanthoor contacted the No. 4 Corvette C7.R of Tommy Milner sending Milner into the outside guardrail. The GTD class No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports GT3 driven by Ben Keating was collected up in the wreck. Both the Corvette and Mercedes were done for the day.
Point-leading DPI team in trouble
The No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPI, which came to the Glen holding the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPI points lead, ended up in trouble on lap 5 when the car suffered a left rear tire puncture with Felipe Nasr behind the wheel. Nasr flew off the track in turn 8 in the boot, coming to rest in the gravel trap. Once the car was back on course under caution, repairs were made on pit road and Nasr rejoined the race two laps down.
The No. 31, which was also co-driven by Eric Curran and Pipo Derani, eventually placed seventh, three laps back.
Salute to military
A total of 2,000 service members received free tickets to Sunday's race courtesy of Genesee Beer. Tickets were divided and distributed to five military bases across New York. Among those five was the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. About 400 tickets were given to Niagara Falls.
"The members of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station are continuously dedicated to developing resilient Airmen and leaders," 914th Air Refueling Wing Commander Col. Mark S. Larson said. "We're excited to start our summer with the opportunity to spend time with our community."