Ben Keating keeps winning streak going at Road America.
Keating Wins Third Straight SRT Viper Cup Race; Ralph Gilles Finishes Third
Elkart Lake, Wisconsin. (Saturday, May 12, 2012) – Ben Keating collected his third straight victory in the SRT Viper Cup Series with a 3.6-second victory over Louis-Philippe Montour at Road America.
Ralph Gilles, making his first start of the season, finished third.
Keating, the No. 1 qualifier, led all 10 laps in the 25-minute timed event although Montour stayed within striking distance until Keating turned a lap almost a second faster than his challenger just four laps from the finish on the 14-turn, 4.048-mile circuit. That provided the leader a comfortable cushion.
“I didn’t get the best restart after the red flag,” said Keating, winner of both races at the season opener at Road Atlanta. “LP (Montour) was right there. I ran a couple hard laps and put together one that was comparable to a qualifying lap. Still, he was close. It was a good win.”
“Tomorrow will be tougher with the inverted field. The Viper Exchange.com Viper is looking forward to it. We’ll have two cars in the race; Jeff (Courtney) will start in front of me and there are good cars we’ll have to get around.”
Montour’s strategy was effective. “I’m happy to be second behind Ben Keating,” said the driver from Saint-Donat, Quebec. “I followed his line. When he brakes, I brake. I learn a lot when I follow Ben Keating.”
The SRT Viper Cup Series presented by Pennzoil Ultra consists of two events at each of the five hosts tracks. Tomorrow’s finale at Road America will be a 40-minute timed event.
Saturday’s race was red flagged on the opening lap when point leader Dave Pintaric was involved in an accident. Pintaric’s Viper went into the grass in the carousel, hooked and rolled. He was fine, but it was a different story for the No. 14 Viper. Also involved was Todd Nelson, but in a sequence that did not involve Pintaric.
“I went wide going out the carousel, got into the grass on the outside, hooked around and it rolled,” said Pintaric. “I’m OK. I might be able to run a marathon right now.
“We’ll see what’s available (another car to drive) out there. I’ve got a lot of things up in the air right now. I’ve got to assess everything. Ben is awful tough. Why kill ourselves? We’ll see what might be available.”
Keating had a good look at the action behind him as Pintaric started second and was ready to challenge for the lead as they entered the carousel. “I feel terrible with the first start,” he said. “David was right on my tail. I think he was looking to catch me coming out of the carousel. I was pushing really hard and where I was on the track may have blocked his view of the exit. I went up on the rumble strips and he went wide. It was a big hard hit; it’s a testament to the cars, how they’re built. It was one of the hardest hits I’ve seen.”
Gilles started sixth and found himself in heavy traffic throughout the 10-lap event. “Since we’ve started the Viper Cup program, the level of racing has gotten better and better. I drop in on this to kind of see what’s going on and test some new dynamic things we’re looking at for the Viper. I’m just amazed to see the level of competition. We had the incident there, but the guys are OK. It’s a testament to how safe the car is. David and Todd walked away. What a race. My heart was beating out of my chest the whole time.”
Gilles had nothing but high compliments for the race winner. “He’s unbelievable,” said Gilles. “He’s driven by something greater. Obviously, he has his eye on going pro some day and is putting in the time right now.”
“The inverted field tomorrow will be something. This track is very fast, but actually very narrow. There’s a diversity of skill level from top to bottom. You have to be focused. It’s going to be interesting.”
Actor/stunt coordinator Darrin Prescott finished in front of former IndyCar driver Richie Hearn in the celebrity competition. Prescott finished 10th and Hearn 11th. Their winnings will be donated directly to the official charity of the series – the National Breast Cancer Coalition.
“That Viper is a monster,” said Prescott. “It’s so much fun to drive. Coming from the stunt world, it’s like nothing I’ve ever driven. It’s a monster, but handles so well. It’s predictable. I love it.”
It was Hearn’s first competition on the Road America course since 1999. “It was a lot of fun,” he said. “The car is fast. It moves around a lot, but handles great. I was racing with Ralph, but lost all drive coming off the last corner. I had a great time watching everybody.”
Race ResultsSRT Viper Cup Series presented by Pennzoil Ultra Road America Saturday, May 12, 2012
|10||Darrin Prescott (celebrity)|
|11||Richie Hearn (celebrity)|
Points Standing (After 3 of 10 events)