JDC-Miller MotorSports’ Dan Goldburg led nearly flag-to-flag Saturday (Jan. 21) at Daytona International Speedway from second on the grid to win the inaugural IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge event. Brian Thienes was second, 22.808 seconds back, then Bijoy Garg, Mirco Schultis and Keith McGovern.
Garg, who comes to IMSA after finishing ninth in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship last year, recovered from a crash in practice Friday to put his No. 3 Ligier JS P320-Nissan on pole. Unfortunately, his time at the point was short-lived as Garg locked up under braking entering the infield on the start and spun himself out. He was able to continue, but dropped to the rear of the field.
Sean Creech Motorsports’ Dr. Lance Willsey briefly assumed the lead, but Goldburg took the lead comprehensively exiting the Kink on the first lap. Once out front, Goldburg showed the pace that put him on top in both practice sessions Friday and drove away.
Behind Goldburg, Willsey and Courtney Crone collided entering the Le Mans chicane, resulting in Crone ending up in the grass and Willsey having to go through the tire barrier maze set up to prevent cutting. IMSA officials ultimately penalized Crone for her role in the incident. She would eventually finish eighth.
Brian Thienes inherited second when Willsey and Crone collided, but simply did not have the pace to keep up with Goldburg. Goldburg expanded his lead up to nearly 10 seconds before catching up to the GSX class leaders in the infield, which cost some time.
Following his opening lap spin, Garg was forced to regroup and regain his focus. Once he did, he began charging through the field, setting some of the fastest laps of the race to do so. The first lap incident put Garg over 30 seconds behind the leaders.
With a little more than 10 minutes to go, Garg was able to get past Schultis for third overall. Despite the position gains, he had gained little on Goldburg time wise.
Goldburg was able to easily hold on to take the very first overall victory in IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge competition. While the winning margin was over 22 seconds, Thienes was within 12 seconds with a couple of laps to go before falling off.
In the GSX class, KohR Motorsports’ Billy Griffin, who comes to the series after racing in Trans-Am’s GT class, started from the pole in his Ford Mustang GT4, but quickly dropped to third as Archangel Motorsports’ Todd Coleman took the lead on the first lap.