With Levitas and Hardee Also at Podium Celebration
Castro Takes the Gold Cup Victory While Levitas Finishes Third in Platinum Masters and Hardee Earns Hard Charger in Successful Season Opener
TPC Racing returned to the long-delayed opening round of the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama in a big way, scoring a win with driver Efrin Castro, a podium for Michael Levitas, and a Yokohama Hard Charger for Dan Hardee on Saturday at Road America.
Castro began the race in the No. 65 Fine Fare Supermarkets Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with his first career Gold Cup pole, and parlayed that into a flag to flag class victory and 10th place overall finish while driving the previous generation Porsche, as compared to the Platinum class.
Joining TPC Racing for the 2020 season, Castro's previous best finish was a runner-up a season ago. From his starting position, Castro made his way around a handful of Platinum Cup competitors and was never challenged in the race despite two full course caution periods that erased his leads.
Levitas piloted his No. 36 DSC Sport/Erin Levitas Foundation/TPC Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup to a third-place finish after a race-long battle for second. Levitas was just 0.6-second away from second place on Saturday at Road America.
Hardee made significant changes to his No. 69 Student Wireless/Drive Revolve/Method Seven/Apple Rush/Hardee Family Foundation Porsche 911 GT3 Cup between his 21st place qualifying run and the start of the race. Those changes paid off, as he improved to 15th on the opening lap, and kept climbing for a 12th place finish overall. That run allowed Hardee to score the Yokohama Hard Charger award and earn an invite to the podium.
Tom Kerr, who this weekend is back in a car for the first time in months following knee surgery, still improved four positions to finish 16th in the No. 74 The Vein and Vascular Institute of Tampa Bay Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Kerr missed the team's previous test at Road America, and was still able to improve.
The day didn't go as planned for Vernon McClure, who had his own chance at a Platinum Masters podium end at the start of the second lap with contact in Turn One that left the No. 10 Main Street Homes Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in the gravel trap with suspension damage.
Each of the TPC Racing drivers will have an opportunity to repeat or improve their performances on Sunday morning during Round Two of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama season. The 45-minute race begins at 9 a.m. CDT.
Harris Levitas, Director of Race Operations: "It was a great day. It's great to have the TPC Racing team on top after such a long break. The entire team has worked so incredibly hard and it's great to see the results come to be, and to start the year off with a great points day. Everybody has come together and really pulled it off, from the engineers to the car chiefs to the drivers, it's really terrific to see. We have great cars, a great team, and a great group of drivers. I'm really proud of everybody."
Efrin Castro, Driver, Gold Cup Winner: "This was a long-time goal of mine. This year, moving to TPC was the first decision I needed to make. Everything else came from there. I want to give thanks to my family for coming to support me, my friends, and God above all. The team did an awesome job. They've worked all weekend to make changes and improvements, and at the end we had a winning car. It was up to me to squeeze out the limit of the car and I'm just glad we were able to do that."
Michael Levitas, Driver, Master Platinum Third Place: "It was a good race. It was real racing today. We had a better car on the opening stint with a fuel tank of fuel. There were a couple of times we were door to door, bumper cover to bumper cover, and I got greedy and killed the left rear tire going into Turn One. Once that happened, it was all downhill from there and we just had to run the pace and stay where we stayed. It was an awesome job today for TPC Racing, I couldn't ask for more in the car. We just needed me to be a little more patient with the driving and we would have had that."
Dan Hardee, Driver, Yokohama Hard Charger: "It was a hell of a day from a really good start to being in the right place at the right time. I took my coach's advice and I pushed the car. That led to Hard Charger, and I'm really happy about it. I couldn't be happier. TPC gave me a podium car. I'd like to say thank you to Student Wireless, Apple Rush Beverages, Method 7 Sunglasses, Cars and Coffee and Riverside Cafe because, without my sponsors, I couldn't do this."