"Max handed me the car in perfect shape," said Wilson. "I saw Robin coming, and I knew he was coming from the back. He raced me clean, and I knew he had more to lose than me, because he’s in the points and we’re not. I took the inside line in every corner."
Liddell wound up second in the No. 6 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R he shares with Andrew Davis.
The Street Tuner (ST) class victory went to No. 56 Porsche Cayman co-drivers Eric Foss and Jeff Mosing. It was the second victory of the season for Foss and Mosing, but the first in their Porsche Cayman. The duo won the ST race in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway aboard a BMW 328i.
"The key today was managing the car and the fuel," Foss said. "The Murillo guys pulled off a perfect pit stop, and that kept us up front. It’s nice to be leading the points, but there are still tough races to go and anything can happen in this series."
TUDOR Championship GT teams forced to hustle after practice incidents
A number of TUDOR Championship contending teams spent much of Saturday scrambling to repair damage to their cars resulting from four separate incidents in the morning’s final practice session.
Porsche North America and Corvette Racing had their cars badly damaged in an incident with less than two minutes remaining in the session, which followed incidents that involved Risi Competizione, AIM Autosport and Dempsey Racing.
The Rolex 24 At Daytona GT Le Mans (GTLM) class-winning No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR driven by Richard Lietz went off in Turn 3, followed by Jan Magnussen in the GTLM points leading No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R. The two cars made contact, badly damaging both of them.
Lietz was treated for a fractured left arm and released from an area hospital. The Porsche North America team will switch to a back-up No. 911 Porsche for Sunday’s race. The car will be started by Michael Christensen, who has co-driven the team’s No. 912 Porsche alongside Patrick Long. Nick Tandy will take over for Christensen in the No. 911, and Long will start the No. 912. Christensen will then finish the race in the No. 912 machine, in which he will earn championship points.
Magnussen was treated and released from the VIR care center in time to watch teammate Antonio Garcia qualify their rebuilt car in sixth position. Remarkably, Garcia missed the front row by one tenth of a second after the crews from both Corvette teams pitched in and replaced or repaired the engine support cradle, sway bar, suspension, steering column, air jacks, rocker, assorted bodywork, body tray, left door and windshield, among other items.
"Initially, I wanted just to be in front of the GTD cars, but when I found the car was drivable and very competitive, I decided to go for it," Garcia said. "You need to have guys like that to really trust the car and go for it again."
Garcia and Magnussen were not the only points leaders to sustain damage in the morning session. The No. 555 AIM Autosport Ferrari 458 Italia of Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler was also damaged by contact in Turn 3.
"The guys gave me a great car and I just threw it off the road in practice," Bell said. "I hate it, because we had such a good thing going. That made the guys do a lot of extra work, and we paid the price for it in qualifying, because the car wasn’t quite ready. Now, they’ll work tonight to make it competitive again for tomorrow."
Bell and Sweedler enter the race with a three-point lead over Alex Job Racing drivers Leh Keen and Cooper MacNeil (220-217). Keen qualified second in the No. 22 WeatherTech Porsche 911 GT America – 12 positions ahead of Bell.
"Show me a great driver who’s never crashed," Sweedler said after his teammate took full blame for the incident. "Townsend is too hard on himself."
Dempsey team misses qualifying due to incident, but ready to race
Patrick Dempsey went off in Turn 16 during the eventful morning practice, causing heavy left-rear damage to the No. 27 Dempsey Racing Porsche 911 GT America. Other than the incident, the racer-actor was pleased with the session, which saw him running consistent laps after co-driver Andrew Davis handed over the car after turning the fastest time. The team is fully expecting to have the car ready for Sunday morning’s warm-ups.
'Son of the Oak Tree' coming to VIR in 2015 along with TUDOR Championship return
Prior to Saturday's qualifying, VIR track officials announced plans to replant a relative of the iconic oak tree that was felled in the summer of 2013. The tree, which stood for more than 200 years, served as a prominent feature and iconic symbol of the circuit. VIR recently discovered the "son of oak tree", which had been planted from an acorn taken from the original tree about nine years ago. The new location will be outside the track, approximately 150 feet from the original oak, providing more stable ground and accommodating modern racing safety regulations.