Alvaro Parente, Misha Goikhberg recover from qualifying crash to finish fifth
Late-race contact drops Acura of Mario Farnbacher and Matt McMurry to seventh
CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 10, 2020) – The #57 Heinricher Racing with MSR pair of Alvaro Parente and Misha Goikhberg led the way for Acura tonight with a fifth-place finish in a rain-impacted sprint contest on the “Roval” at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The 100-minute, GT-only sprint race, is the shortest on the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule, and the second of two GT-only rounds. Changing weather conditions throughout qualifying and Saturday night’s race contributed to multiple incidents on the 2.32-mile road course.
A crash in qualifying left Parente and Goikhberg 12th on the starting grid for the GTD field. Starting driver Goikhberg survived an early-race spin without contact and brought the #57 Acura NSX GT3 Evo up to ninth before pitting and handing the driving duties over to Parente. For his part, Parente made additional gains in the final hour, and took the checkers in fifth.
Teammates, and championship leaders, Matt McMurry and Mario Farnbacher started third and quickly moved up to second with McMurry at the wheel of the Meyer Shank Racing Acura. Typically-quick pit work from their Meyer Shank Racing crew saw Farnbacher emerge from the only scheduled stop of the night in the lead.
Late in the race, Farnbacher lost the GTD lead and served a brief stop-and-go penalty for missing the chicane, then was the victim of contact from Jack Hawksworth that sent the #86 Acura spinning, and an unrepresentative seventh-place result.
Despite tonight’s result, Farnbacher and McMurry still lead the GTD Drivers’ Championship standings with 200 points to 196 for Aaron Telitz, Pat Long and Ryan Hardwick [a three-way tie]. Acura is second in the GTD Manufacturers’ title chase, three points out of first, with three races remaining.
A strong seventh-place qualifying effort from Gradient Racing’s Till Bechtolshiemer came to naught, as the #22 Acura pilot spun exiting Turn One following an early-race restart, and made solid contact with the barriers. The resulting damage ended the race for Bechtolshiemer and co-driver Marc Miller.
The Meyer Shank racing team will next be in action next weekend, October 17, at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta for the Petit Le Mans 10-hour endurance race. Contesting only the shorter, Sprint Cup rounds on the schedule, Gradient Racing will return to competition for the November 1 Monterey Sports Car Championship event at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California.
Acura Team Penske
IMSA’s Prototype category was not a part of this weekend’s race at Charlotte, which featured the GTD and GTLM classes only. The Acura Team Penske ARX-05s will return to the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for the next weekend’s Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.