ELKHART LAKE, Wis., Aug. 22 - Wright Motorsports of Batavia, Ohio fielded two cars in the IMSA GT3 Challenge by Yokohama doubleheader Friday and Saturday at Road America, and both took their drivers to podium finishes.
Rookie Kasey Kuhlman of Cincinnati turned in his best performances to date in the series with a pole position and a third- and a second-place finish in the top class, the Platinum Cup, in the twin 45-minute races that were part of the Time Warner Cable Road Race Showcase. His No. 15 2011 Porsche 997 carries the colors of Kuhlsport and the Motorsports Country Club of Cincinnati.
His teammate and fellow rookie, Mitch Landry of Lake Charles, La., finished third in the Gold Cup division on Friday and fifth on Saturday in Wright Motorsports' No. 54 2009 Porsche 997, which is sponsored by VersaCrane and Deep South Crane & Rigging.
Kuhlman qualified seventh overall (2:15.770) and Landry qualified fifth in the Gold Cup class (2:19.363) prior to Friday's race on the 4.048-mile, 14-turn road course. The top three qualifiers (Fernando Pena, Carlos Kauffmann and Tim McKenzie) broke the series' track record of 2:14.932. Pena now holds that mark with a 2:14.514.
Friday's race started and ended with some on-track fireworks.
The third-, fourth-, and fifth-place cars were among several that spun in Turn 14 on the first lap to bring out a full-course caution. Kuhlman deftly missed the melee, and his agility was rewarded by vaulting from seventh to second place overall.
Further back in the pack Landry had to lift to not become involved too, and he slipped from fifth to seventh in class. He got those two positions back very quickly, however, as two other drivers in his class, Scott Tucker and Andres Cisneros, were involved in an incident on the restart which basically put Landry back where he started when the race really got going on lap five.
Kuhlman tried everything he could think of to get by the leader, Pena, for the first 15 laps. He ran faster than anyone else in Friday's race when he was timed in just 2:16.389 on lap 12. Just 0.879 of a second separated him from Pena on that lap, and he had a comfortable 5.395-seconds advantage over the third-place driver, Randy Trice, at the time.
Cheers went up from Elkhart Lake to Cincinnati when Kuhlman took the lead from Pena on lap 16 and led that lap, but Pena edged ahead again in Turn 15 on lap 17. Kuhlman remained in second place as the clock ticked on, looking for another chance to get by. He tried a daring move in Turn 6 on lap 17 that almost worked, but he ended up getting airborne and sailing into a gravel trap. Somehow he freed himself and returned to the fray, but not before Trice got by to push him back to third.