A.J. Morgan wins first Dodge Viper Cup Race of 2011

Posted on May 15, 2011


Newcomer A.J. Morgan, a 21-year-old veteran racer from Darien, Ill., won the first Dodge Viper Cup race of the 2011 season. He averaged 28.5 mph on a drying track, passing Texan Ben Keating prior to the back straight on the final lap at Sebring International Raceway, Sebring Florida on Saturday.

That’s not a misprint. The average speed is correct. The race was only four laps long; two under full course yellow after Dave Fiorelli’s single-car crash right at the green flag took out the concrete wall just past the starting line. The race was finally stopped while crews repaired the wall, then the field formed for a scored lap behind the pace car leading to the re-start with Morgan at the head of the single file pack.

The starter threw the green and the white flag NASCAR style, and the race came down to one flying lap free-for-all to the checker.

Keating grabbed the lead from Morgan into the first turn, but Morgan jumped on a chance to get him back late in the lap: “I got beside him coming out of ten,” said Morgan, a former go kart and midget driver. “We hit some puddles into the next turn and touched. A little rough racing, but I held him off to the end. We have a little work tonight to make sure the left front is OK for tomorrow.”

Billy Gropp brought his Dodge Viper ACR-X from sixth to third during the lap while World Challenge vet Jeff Courtney came fourth in the melee.

Fiorelli was unhurt in the crash, but had to convince the rescue crew that the blood on his driving suit came from a small cut earlier in the day in the pits and not from the wall banging. His car was too damaged to run in Sunday’s Race 2.

Results (All Dodge Viper ACR-X):

PositionDriverBest Lap TimeBest Lap SpeedAvg. Speed
1.A.J. Morgan2:14.96898.69028.577
2.Ben Keating2:15.326 98.42928.569
3.Billy Gropp2:21.92693.85228.456
4.Jeff Courtney2:23.57892.77228.405
5.Ted Hughes2:30.31488.6158.335
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