Paul Miller Racing has clinched the IMSA Sprint Cup Championship with a fourth-place finish in the GTD class at the Road America circuit in Wisconsin this past weekend. It was an impressive feat considering that it’s the team’s first year of racing the M4 GT3 with drivers Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow.
The IMSA Sprint Cup championship is a “championship within a championship” that is determined by which team scores the most points in the eight shorter sprint races that are on the schedule, most of them consisting of two-hour-and-forty-minute races, along with 100-minute races at Long Beach and Belle Isle. IMSA also has the Endurance Cup Championship, which scores points only from the longer endurance races.
The Paul Miller Racing team got off to a strong start in the sprint races, winning at Long Beach, finishing fourth at Laguna Seca, and second at Mid-Ohio. They then finished third at Belle Isle, fifth at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, and won at Lime Rock Park. The fourth-place finish at Road America was enough to clinch the title. “Today may not have been our best race, but we had one goal and that was to win the Sprint Cup title,” said Bryan Sellers. “After missing the Rolex 24 at Daytona, that was the only championship we could win, and we did it with one sprint race to go. We can now race with our heads held higher and focus on getting another win for the M4 GT3. We are very pleased with our partnership with BMW and look forward to what the future holds.”
The Paul Miller Racing duo had the best finish of the three M4 GT3s entered in the GTD Pro and GTD classes at Road America. Turner Motorsport (who were in second place behind Paul Miller Racing in the Sprint Cup Championship) had a strong start to the weekend, with Robby Foley qualifying the #96 M4 GT3 on pole in the GTD class. He and co-driver Bill Auberlen held the lead late in the race before being pushed off the track by Lexus driver Aaron Telitz, who went on to finish third behind the Winward Racing Mercedes and the Carbahn Lamborghini. Auberlen recovered but could only finish tenth out of eleven cars.
BMW Team RLLs woes continued in the GTD Pro class, as the #25 M4 GT3 driven by John Edwards and Connor De Phillippi experienced ECU and ABS issues that resulted in unplanned pit stops and a last place finish in class. The ECU issues have been a problem before with the M4 GT3, as Turner Motorsport experienced what seems like the same problem at Lime Rock. “Today was another tough one,” said Edwards. “A technical issue meant an early trip to the pits. Then an ABS issue caused me to go off the track and damage the underside. Everyone on this team works their butts off, but all-in-all, a forgettable day.” The GTD Pro class was won by the #14 Lexus.
There are only two races left in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The series goes to Virginia International Raceway on the weekend of August 26th-28th, followed by the season-ending Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta on September 28th-October 1st. —David Haueter
[Photos by LAT IMages]