Stokey and Whelen win US GT Championship races at Monticello’s biggest event yet.
During what track officials have called the biggest racing event ever to take place at the exclusive Monticello Motor Club, NY, Nathan Stokey has taken his first ever outright win in the US GT Championship. Stokey (GT-1) snatched the lead of Saturday’s race from George Whelen (GT-U) on the last lap. It is the first time this season a GT-1 car has won overall. Jim Booth also created history on Saturday, piloting home his Ferrari to second in the GT-U class, giving the Italian marque its first USGTC podium. Whelen repented his sins on Sunday, stealing the show to take the outright victory and add another Unlimited class win to his name.
Never in its history have so many competition cars, or so much action and excitement, graced the 18 turn, 3.6mile full-course of the private resort styled ‘country club’ than during the North American Road Racing Association’s August 24-26 event which also featured the Whelen US TimeTrial Championship and the SRT Viper Cup series. Witnessing the spectacle were a number of celebrities including sportscar legend and former Formula 1 driver Brian Redman.
Jim Stout (GT-U) set the early benchmark of 2:20.655 in qualifying for Saturday’s race, but George Whelen (GT-U, Whelen Marsh Racing Corvette C6) hit back to take pole with a 2:20.360. Michael Hartley qualified third. Fourth fastest overall, Stokey took the GT-1 pole from Lussier while Steve Loudin and David Greenman were fastest in the GT-2 and GT-3 classes.
The race began with action and drama. After going through turns one, two and three cleanly Michael Hartley was caught out by cold tires and brakes trying to pass Jim Stout (Arrow Racing Engines Viper Comp Coupe).
While Hartley (GT-U, Dezigns Construction Viper Comp Coupe) was left on the sideline, Stout moved back up through the field, to be fourth overall by mid race, until his power steering failed- no doubt as a result of the earlier contact.
Meanwhile Whelen controlled the race until an overheating issue forced him to slow. On the final lap he slowed even more, allowing Stokey (TNM Motorsports Viper Comp Coupe) to snatch the lead. Still in striking distance, Whelen did what he could, but in a final attempt to re-pass Stokey he looped the car in the final corner, grazing the tire wall.
It was Stokey’s first outright victory, and the first for a GT-1 car this season. Crossing the line second was Whelen to take the Unlimited class win, while Jim Booth (McDonald’s Ferrari 458 Challenge) made history finishing 3rd overall to give Ferrari its first ever USGTC podium, finishing second in GT-U.
Father and son, Todd and Trevor Nelson (AmericanRacingTech.com Viper ACR-X) finished 2nd and 3rd in the Unlimited class. Frank Lussier (HSMWorks Viper Comp Coupe) and Dave Moore (Viper Comp Coupe) completed the GT-1 podium. Steve Loudin (Tricel Honeycomb Viper Comp Coupe) and David Greenman (Parabellum Racing Corvette C5) continued their winning ways in the GT-2 and GT-3 classes.
Sunday’s qualifying was just as electric with the top three, Stout, Whelen and Stokey, trading times to be separated by only three tenths at the end of the session. Stout ended on top with a 2:20.002 compared to Whelen’s 2:20.024, while Stokey’s 2:20:307 gave him the GT-1 pole. Loudin and Greenman again took out the GT-2 and GT-3 poles, respectively.
The field, comprising of some of the nation’s fastest and most exotic GT cars, then made a clean getaway from the green flag to remain tightly bunched during Sunday’s race.
Immediately capitalizing was Chris Winkler (GT-U, Viper ACR-X), up from 7th to 6th to be in front of Kevin Ferguson (GT-U, Craftlogic Software Viper ACR) by the end of lap one.
At the beginning lap three, Saturday’s race winner Nathan Stokey became the race’s first casualty, pulling off with a gearbox issue, moving Hartley into third and Lussier into fourth.
Meanwhile Booth began pressuring Ferguson, Moore did the same to Loudin, and the battle for GT-3 raged between class winner David Greenman and Frank Daniele (Porsche Cayman)-
the performance of the Monticello member particularly impressive in what was only his ninth ever week in a racing car.
At the front, Jim Stout appeared to be firmly in control in the first few laps, with George Whelen seemingly just out of striking distance as they passed pit straight, but all that changed heading into Monticello’s right-handed hairpin as the pair changed down from 6th to 2nd. Released from Stout, Whelen never looked back, extending his lead to take a comfortable victory, and his second GT-U class win of the weekend.
Electing not to use new tires on Sunday, the pace of GT-2 winner Steve Loudin dropped off, allowing Moore and the father-son duo of Trevor and Todd Nelson by, but he remained comfortably in front of 2nd in class, Kathy Stout.
The real excitement came from the battle for third and the battle for sixth. Lussier and Winkler closed on Hartley in the closing stages of the race, while Moore caught the dueling Ferguson and Booth. The pressure was intense between each of the trios.
Hartley held on to take third overall, and in the GT-U class behind Whelen and Stout, while Lussier’s fourth gave him the win in GT-1. Winkler finished fifth. Ferguson relinquished sixth to Booth and only just held onto seventh overall from Moore, who finished second in the GT-1 class. Stokey completed the GT-1 podium.
The US GT Championship next heads to Texas World Speedway, September 21-23, before returning to New York for the final double-points round of the championship at Watkins Glen International, October 19-21. The Watkins Glen event will also feature a stand-alone NARRA World Championship race, and the final rounds of the SRT Viper Cup. Both events will feature the Whelen US TimeTrial Championship and the US Performance Driver Education program, allowing all high-performance car owners to take to the track.