Third Straight Podium for the #21 Hyundai Veloster N TCR Tightens Championship Battle

2019 IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge

Virginia is For Racing Lovers Grand Prix

#21 Harry Gottsacker and Mason Filippi

#98 Mark Wilkins and Michael Lewis

Third Straight Podium for the #21 Hyundai Veloster N TCR Tightens Championship Battle

Once again, mixed weather conditions played a leading role in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race, creating challenging strategy decisions and unpredictable track conditions.  Despite the intermittent rain and the multiple late race re-starts, the Bryan Herta Autosport team prevailed, finishing second (#21) and fourth (#98) in the race and first (#98) and second (#21) in the series championship with just two rounds remaining.

Lightning and heavy rains washed out qualifying on Friday, so the grid was determined by the championship standings. 

Reaping the benefits of a strong and consistent season, championship leaders Mark Wilkins and Michael Lewis started from the pole position for the third time this year.  Harry Gottsacker and Mason Filippi catapulted to third in the championship with their victory two weeks ago at Road America.  That paid off again this weekend as their championship ranking secured a second row starting position.

The green flag fell over the rolling hills of VIR and Harry Gottsacker jumped to the lead in the #21 Veloster N TCR.  It was a Hyundai battle the first few laps with the #98 driven by Mark Wilkins prevailing just before a large accident involving two GS cars created a lengthy caution period.  Nearly 20 minutes later, the race resumed and the Hyundai’s continued their bout as rain started to soak the 3.27-mile road course. Gottsacker and Wilkins raced hard, trading the lead two times each before turning over the cockpit to Filippi and Lewis with just under an hour to go.

They BHA crew once again proved to be as reliable in the pits as they are in their car preparation, performing a perfect stop for both cars.  Unfortunately, the racing conditions were not as predictable and multiple incidents caused yellow flags and challenging re-starts.  It wasn’t enough to fluster Filippi, as the rookie held on steadily to third position throughout the final hour.  He raced his competitors hard, sometimes three-wide, and on the final lap, the race leader crashed and Filippi advanced to a second-place finish; the third straight podium for Filippi and Gottsacker in the #21 Hyundai Veloster N TCR.

The #98 car remains in the championship lead after a taxing stint for Michael Lewis. After a quick off-track excursion, Lewis was eighth with less than five minutes remaining in the race.  The clock was ticking, and it looked like the race would finish under yellow, but the safety team scurried and the green and white flags fell, indicating one final racing lap. Lewis took advantage of the opportunity and charged to fourth position, securing the fifth top five finish of the season for Lewis and Wilkins in the #98 Veloster N TCR.   Nearly every manufacturer in the TCR class took a turn in the top five, but both Veloster’s were there in the end.

Catch all the action from VIR on NBC Sports Network Monday, August 30th, 2019 at 10pm ET.  Round nine of the 2019 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge takes place at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, in Monterey, CA on Saturday, September 14, 2019. 

#98 Hyundai Veloster N TCR         

 Started: 1st         

Finished: 4th

Michael Lewis (finished)“We scored more valuable points for Hyundai and our Bryan Herta Autosport team today.  Congratulations to Harry and Mason for their second-place finish, they were really on it!  It was a crazy race for Mark, myself and I think for most of the teams because of the mixed conditions and the close, competitive racing.  Once again, our stops were great, I am thankful to the crew for their reliability, we continued to lead this championship because of a team effort, they get us in position to succeed.  Mark had drove a great stint and turned the car over to me in the top three.  I had some challenges in my stint, but we crossed the finish line in fourth.  We had some luck to get there, but I also had to work hard to climb back up to the top five after some mid-race chaos.    Thank you to the Hyundai VIP’s who visited us this weekend and to the whole team for their efforts.  We are working hard to keep our fast Hyundai Veloster N TCR up front in the Championship!”

Mark Wilkins (started): “The theme of the season seems to be mixed conditions and VIR was not exception!  Starting from the pole was a bonus but it put us right in the GS pack, and the start was very hectic.  Harry found the path of least resistance and had a great start overall.  It took until the Esses before we found some breathing room and could start pushing forward.  The skies opened and once again we were forced to make a tough tire call.  We went to wets and the #98 Veloster N TCR was fantastic!  I had some great battles in my stint.  It was a wild stint to be honest, but an absolute blast to drive.  We pitted from the lead and once again, Michael had to endure some really tough track conditions.  The final five minutes was a nail biter with a green, white, checker and Michael charged to fourth at the finish line!  Congratulations to Harry and Mason on their podium.  It was a great point scoring day for the team and with two races to go, the championship points are tight!”

#21 Hyundai Veloster N TCR          

Started: 3rd   Finished: 2nd

Finished: 2nd

Harry Gottsacker (started): “That was a wild race!  I started from third and was able to take the lead early when we were still on dry tires.  The weather started to catch a few people out and we had a long yellow and everyone switched to rain tires.  We ran back to the front after the pit stops and pulled a gap with the #98 car.  I handed the car over to Mason and he did a great job today.  He was smart and put the car in the right spot to put us on the podium.  I’m happy to be second in the championship after a strong weekend.”

Third Straight Podium for the #21 Hyundai Veloster N TCR Tightens Championship Battle

Mason Filippi (finished): “It was a wild race at VIR! The Bryan Herta Autosport Veloster N TCR was incredible in the varying conditions.  The last couple of laps were especially crazy and we finished second. It was a great points day for the team, and we are first and second in the championship. Incredible!  I am very thankful to be on such a great team with awesome teammates and crew who work extremely hard before during and after each race to push us to the next level.  Harry started out on fire in the beginning of the race and was up front through tough conditions.  It was extremely close at the end as it started raining, pushing everyone to the edge.  The Hyundai Veloster N TCR is amazing…especially in wet conditions…I cannot wait for my home race at Laguna Seca.”

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