Corvette Racing Survives First-Lap Crash to Win Advance Auto Parts SportsCar Showdown at COTA

One race after a heartbreaking loss on the final corner of the final lap at Long Beach, the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen survived a multi-car accident on the first corner of the first lap Saturday to win the Advance Auto Parts SportsCar Showdown at Circuit of The Americas.

Starting in sixth, Magnussen took the inside line in Turn 1 and by the time he cleared the melee, he had moved to third. By lap 27 of 73, the No. 3 Corvette moved into the lead and never gave it up, winning its second IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race of the season by 2.498 seconds over the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 of Bill Auberlen and Alexander Sims.

“I definitely made the right choice to pick the inside line,” said Magnussen. “Everything was happening on the outside and a few cars got in big trouble and had some heavy damage. I’m really happy I escaped all that without a scratch.”

The Turn 1 incident damaged five cars, including the two Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs that entered the weekend first and third in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) standings. The No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT of Ryan Briscoe, No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE of Giancarlo Fisichella, and No. 4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R of Tommy Milner all suffered major damage.

The No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT of Dirk Mueller and the No. 912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR of Wolf Henzler also were involved and lost multiple laps due to damage obtained from the incident.

It was the strongest run of the season for BMW with polesitter John Edwards and co-driver Martin Tomczyk in BMW Team RLL’s No. 24 BMW M6 rounding out the class podium. Edwards led 22 laps on the day, but a pit road penalty put the team too far behind the race-winning Corvette to contend for the win.
The win was Corvette Racing’s 104th major U.S. sports car victory. The No. 3 team also won the race’s DEKRA Green Award. The award recognizes the cleanest, fastest and most efficient team in the GTLM class in each race through a scoring system developed in a partnership between IMSA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy and SAE International.

“I think it is the perfect way to come back after what happened at Long Beach,” said Garcia. “It’s a shame the No. 4 car had that contact in turn one., but it’s three wins in a row for Corvette Racing. I think no one expected that, but that is what it takes for those results: Zero mistakes."

Keating Joins Bleekemolen, Mercedes in Home State Victory
There’s something about Circuit of The Americas that suits Ben Keating. The Texas native extended his series-record at the Austin, Texas, track Saturday with his fourth win in five starts in the Advance Auto Parts Sportscar Showdown. Keating, who picked up three consecutive wins between 2013-15, was joined by co-driver Jeroen Bleekemolen in the victory.

The win was Bleekemolen’s third at the track, after joining Keating on the top step of the podium in 2014 and 2015.

It was another big win in his home state for Keating, who was born in Tomball, Texas and now resides in Victoria, graduated from Texas A&M in 1994, and has since opened 17 automotive dealerships throughout the state.

“Winning again, the home race…I love this place,” said Keating. “Nothing beats winning at home.”

It’s been impressive debut season for Mercedes-AMG as well, with Keating and Bleekemolen scoring the third consecutive WeatherTech Championship victory for Mercedes-AMG in the marque’s fourth race.

“We knew we had a strong car for the race, we knew we were in it,” added Bleekemolen. “For the fourth race in a row we had a perfect race, no mistakes. It’s been an unbelievable season so far. I can’t believe that not the smallest thing has gone wrong so far.”

Also having a strong start to the season is Ferrari, with the runner-up No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 and co-drivers Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan finishing on the podium for the third race this season.

The No. 75 SunEnergy1 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Tristan Vautier and Kenny Habul led two laps to round out the podium, their second of the season.

The next WeatherTech Championship race is the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear Corporation on Saturday, June 3. The 100-minute race will feature the Prototype, PC and GT Daytona (GTD) classes.