There was a lot to celebrate last weekend for the #99 Automatic Racing camp at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Al Carter, making his fourth IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge start of the season in the Aston Martin Vantage, celebrated his birthday on Friday. Saturday, he picked up the Grand Sport (GS) class victory with co-driver Steven Phillips in the four-hour Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca 240, the Saturday headliner at the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix.
This is the first Continental Tire Challenge win for both drivers, coming in the 61st series start for Carter and the 37th for Phillips. This is also the first victory for Automatic Racing in the series since 2008, when Jeff Segal and Jep Thornton piloted the team’s BMW M3 to victory lane in GS at Lime Rock Park.
“Steven and I have been talking about how the race was going to unfold and it pretty much happened exactly how we thought it was,” Carter said. “I was getting a little tired out there. Laguna is a tough place, but we kept digging and this the first win for our car, the first win in a long time for Automatic Racing and the first win for Steve.
“We’re feeling pretty good right now. This is unforgettable. Winning a Continental Tire Challenge is not easy, the competition in this series is so tough.”
Carter and Phillips came from the back of the pack to win, qualifying the car 12th in the 15-car field. The team ran mid-pack for the first part of the race, but by the halfway mark had moved up to the top five.
The car was positioned for a good result and was running in second when the leading #35 Porsche Cayman GT4 driven by Damien Faulkner suddenly slowed with 30 minutes remaining. Faulkner regained power, but not soon enough as Carter shot past him.
The #99 held the lead for the remaining 18 laps to close out the victory.
GS point leaders Dillon Machavern and Dylan Murcott faced a challenging race but will leave Mazda Raceway with a 16-point lead over No. 12 Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 co-drivers Trent Hindman and Cameron Cassels.
Hindman and Cassels finished second, while the #59 KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang of trio Jack Roush, Jr., Scott Maxwell and Nate Stacy.