WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Salinas, CA
2.238-mile road course, features 11 turns
Race: Saturday, September 14, 2019 at 3:05pm PST (2 Hours)
TV: LIVE on IMSA.TV, IMSA Radio. NBC Sports Network Wednesday, September 18, 2019 at 1pm ET Live updates are available throughout the weekend on social media and www.bryanhertaautosport.com
First and Second, 2 To Go: Just five points separate the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge championship points leaders. Mark Wilkins and Michael Lewis lead the field with 224 points. Rookie teammates Harry Gottsacker and Mason Filippi are just five points behind in second, with 219 points in the #21 Hyundai Veloster N TCR.
Championship Leaders, By the Numbers: The #98 Hyundai Veloster N TCR driven by Mark Wilkins and Michael Lewis have started on the front row last five races. Their average starting position this season is third. They won the pole position at Watkins Glen and Lime Rock Park based on speed, and they earned the pole at V.I.R. based on points…. proving…consistency pays off. Their average finishing position with two rounds to go is fifth. Mark and Michael have won twice (Mid-Ohio and Lime Rock Park) and have five top-five finishes this season.
Raging Rookies: Young guns Harry Gottsacker and Mason Filippi have had an unbelievable rookie season thus far racing the #21 Hyundai Veloster N TCR. Currently ranked second in the championship, just two points behind the BHA sister car, eighth is their average starting position. With just two top five starts, the records show they’ve raced smart and they’ve raced hard. Harry and Mason have finished on the podium the last three races in a row, including their victory at Road America. Their average finishing position so far this season is fifth.
Heated Manufacturers Battle: The tightest battle to be decided is the manufacturer’s championship. Three of the four manufacturers are all separated by just a point. With just two entries in the IMPC championship, Hyundai is ranked third just a point behind second and two points out of the lead!
Love for Laguna: There is a lot of history within this team at the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. All four drivers have won at this track, and Laguna Seca is the home track for Mason Filippi, as he lives in the area. Most notable is team owner Bryan Herta’s history here. After “The Pass” by Alex Zanardi in the Corkscrew in 1996, Herta went on to collect two IndyCar victories at Laguna Seca in 1998 and 1999.
#98 Mark Wilkins: “It has been a great season thus far for Bryan Herta Autosport and Hyundai. With only two races to go, it’s important we score as many points as possible at Laguna this weekend. The championship fight is very close, especially on the manufacturers side, so we need to be on point. I’ve had some great memories at Laguna inclusive of an endurance win in ALMS Prototype Challenge competition back in 2010. Last year we ran the i30N TCR in the 8-hour event, so we should be able to translate our setup to the Veloster and be competitive right off the trailer. The track is
challenging and low grip but has a good flow. The low grip nature of the circuit makes the track exciting to drive, but it’s easy to over drive and challenging to find the limit without going over it. The corkscrew is so unique, but I like the fast, downhill left hander that follows. It always feels like you’re going to run out of road at the exit but when you hit it just right its rewarding! I’m looking forward to a great weekend! On running first and second in the championship: “Mason and Harry have done a great job this season! They are young, talented and focused. They’ve had some strong races as of late and executed very well. Our synergy is excellent at BHA and we have worked together as four drivers all year, pushing each other to perform at each race. Collectively, we’ll be looking to score as many manufactures points as possible and hopefully we can achieve the team’s first 1-2 finish of the season. It’s been an exciting year!”
#98 Michael Lewis: “Laguna Seca is a track I’ve learned to really like after a few years of racing here. It is a challenging track because it seems simple, but to be fast, you must squeeze every ounce of time out of each turn. Sometimes you think you’ve done a good lap, and you find out you need to squeeze out that little bit more, and it’s tough to get that little bit of time! It is a short circuit with many turns, so racing can be close, and you must be patient to pass and be smart to pass because of the close quarters racing. Our championship has many good drivers and teams, and it makes for close racing, Mark and I will work hard to keep our No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport, Hyundai Veloster N TCR up front! Additionally, this track feels like home to me, from living about 6 hours away, and from racing here each year since 2014. One of my favorite corners is Turn 9. I love the downhill section and to do this turn with little to no brake feels amazing. Additionally, Laguna Seca is really fan friendly and you can easily see our Bryan Herta Autosport, Hyundai Veloster N TCR race cars around the whole circuit from the many viewing points around the track. Watching the race from the Corkscrew area and from the outside of Turn 1 is neat as well. Overall, this track is fun to drive and a fun place to visit. Check out our Veloster N TCR race cars and visit with Mark Wilkins and I during the weekend at our team’s tent and also on the pre grid before the race on Saturday!”
#21 Harry Gottsacker: “I’m looking forward to going to Laguna Seca for the second time this season. We got a win earlier this year in a different championship and I’m looking to add a second trophy to the case this weekend. This is a home race for Mason, so I’m looking forward to leaning on him for the local knowledge of the track. We are still looking for a Veloster N TCR 1-2 race finish, but we have moved to first and second in the championship. Our 21 car has good momentum with three podiums in a row, and we are planning to finish the season strong. It has been a real team effort to get to this point. Every race we are clawing back some points in the championship!
#21 Mason Filippi: “I can’t wait to race at my home track, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend! I have loved driving this track from the start, I remember my first race there and it is still special every time I pull in the gates. I cannot wait to drive the Veloster N TCR car around this awesome track. My favorite section of Laguna starts at the top of the corkscrew and continues through the last few corners. It has a great flow! The battle for the championship is so tight! There wouldn’t be another car I would want to be battling with. The Bryan Herta Autosport team is incredible and they put together such great cars to give us the opportunity to be upfront in the championship! The Veloster N TCR cars are strong and with a great team giving us the pit stops and cars we need, we are driving our hardest to put these cars on the podium!”