Porsche GT3 Cup cars on track at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA Returns to St. Pete

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - It’s taken seven months, but the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama is ready to finish its 2020 “season opener.” The world has changed dramatically in the interim.
It was Friday, March 13 when the GT3 Cup Challenge conducted the first practice of its season on the opening day of track action at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Soon after the checkered flag waved on the session, all activity was halted as the sporting world came to a screeching halt due to the exploding coronavirus pandemic.
The St. Petersburg race weekend was rescheduled for Oct. 23-25 and GT3 Cup Challenge remains a part of it. A total of 17 cars are entered for the pair of 45-minute races, in what is now the penultimate round of the season instead of the opener. The GT3 Cup Challenge season concludes at Sebring International Raceway with a doubleheader Nov. 12-14.
Jeff Kingsley, winner of eight of the 12 races to date in 2020, takes a 25-point lead over Riley Dickinson into the St. Pete twin-bill. Kingsley led the lone St. Pete practice session back in March. He remembers what a treacherous circuit it can be and the consequences a mistake can have.
“We got one practice there and we were quickest, so we’ve got to go on that momentum and the momentum we have (now),” said Kingsley, driver of the No. 16 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. “It’s a super-tricky track. None of us have been there before (March), so I think it kind of levels the playing field a bit. It’s bumpy, there’s walls everywhere and there’s no room for a mistake.
“In a championship like this, you can’t have any mistakes.”
The weekend schedule calls for a pair of practices and qualifying on Friday. Race 1 is set for 1:50 p.m. ET Saturday and Race 2 is at 12:40 p.m. Sunday. Both races will stream live on IMSA.com.
Other items of note for the St. Pete weekend include:
  • The battle for third place in the Platinum class is one to watch. Sean McAlister (No. 11 JDX Racing Porsche) is just three points ahead of Sebastian Carazo (No. 27 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche). McAlister has logged five third-place finishes this season, while Carazo has had one runner-up result and three third-place finishes.
  • Charlie Luck (No. 45 Wright Motorsports Porsche) will try to continue chasing down points leader Alan Metni (No. 99 Kelly-Moss/AM Motorsports Porsche) in the Platinum Masters class for drivers 45 and older. Luck won all three class races last week at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta to trim Metni’s points lead to 25.
  • Curt Swearingin (No. 17 ACI Motorsports Porsche) has won five of the last six races in Gold Cup for 911 GT3 Cup cars built between 2014 and 2016. Swearingin holds an 18-point advantage over Efrin Castro (No. 65 TPC Racing Porsche).
  • The Platinum Masters class sees the return this week of Danny Hardee in the No. 69 TPC Racing entry. Hardee sat out the last two rounds at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Michelin Raceway.
  • Kurt Fazekas, whose only appearance this season came in the first race of the Road America doubleheader that opened the delayed season in August, is back on the entry list this weekend in the No. 52 Kelly-Moss Porsche. A resident of Key West, Fla., Fazekas was entered at St. Petersburg in March but didn’t complete a timed lap in the one practice.