Photo: Courtesy IMSA

Long, Nielsen Have the Wright Stuff In Road America GT Daytona Class Victory

By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer

ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin — After dealing with the headaches at Lime Rock Park, Patrick Long and Christina Nielsen rebounded to win the GT Daytona class in Sunday’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase for the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship.

The No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R qualified on pole position and led early before pitting during the second full course yellow of the race. After staying in the top five for the vast majority of the rest of the race, Nielsen took advantage of some race control hesitation to come into the pits.

The No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R of Patrick Lindsey hit the wall in The Kink (Turn 11) and was crawling back to the pits before stopping in the grass close to the edge of the track. While Lindsey was trying to make it back to the pits, Nielsen and several other competitors quickly drove to the pits in anticipation of a full course yellow which came out shortly after.

Long took over on the ensuing pit stop and after the rest of the GTD class pitted, it was easy sailing to the end for Long, winning the class by just over 3.8 seconds over the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow. The win was Wright Motorsports’s first in WTSCC competition.

The win was a great rebound after Lime Rock Park where Long had a defective tire giving the car trouble and causing him to drop from second to last of all finishing cars at the Connecticut track.

“It’s racing and sometimes you have to focus on the execution and not the result,” said Long. “You go out somewhere like Lime Rock with a pole position car and such a great balance […] and you feel like you left empty handed but behind the scenes you know you executed and something that was outside of your control became a factor and all it can do is motivate you to look ahead and try to justify all the effort that goes in, but every single team here works completely tirelessly so it wasn’t that we deserved it this weekend, we had to fight as hard as anybody.”

Nielsen added her opinion to her co-driver’s observation.

“Racing is not like other sports,” said Nielsen. “You go to tennis courts, tennis courts all look the same. We go to different tracks where different cars have different advantages. You’ve got to nail the setup,  of course you may have experience from the year before where you had a good setup but conditions change, the track changes so you can never really rely on it so you’ve got to go in with the mentality that yes, we have the confidence that we were strong the weekend before and we want redemption.

“But, you’re never guaranteed in racing. The track is like a living creature and this speaks to Wright’s strength and what they did this weekend. They managed to pull another perfect setup for the race once again.”

The next race for the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship is the Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway on August 19th.

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A 2012 graduate of LSU, Christopher DeHarde primarily focuses on the NTT IndyCar Series and the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. DeHarde has actively covered motorsports since 2014.