AUGUST 26, 2023
By John Oreovicz and Jeff Olson
Mikey Taylor and Chris Miller got the victory in the Touring Car (TCR) class Saturday at VIR, but Robert Wickens and Harry Gottsacker maintained their grip on the championship.
Taylor held on through a one-lap shootout to claim the class victory in the No. 17 Unitronic/JDC-Miller MotorSports Audi RS3 LMS TCR he co-drives with Miller. Wickens held on to second in the No. 33 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Hyundai Elantra N TCR he shares with Gottsacker.
While trying to chase down the leader late in the race, Tim Lewis went off course in the esses from second place, telling his crew over the radio that something broke on the No. 5 KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR. That resulted in a full-course caution with eight minutes remaining in the two-hour race, letting the field gather closer to Taylor.
The ensuing restart was a one-lap run to the finish over the 17-turn, 3.27-mile circuit. Taylor brought it home 6.974 seconds ahead of Wilkins, who finished 0.550 seconds ahead of BHA stablemate Mason Filippi in the No. 98 BHA Hyundai he co-drives with Mark Wilkins.
Before the late caution, Taylor was leading comfortably but was razor thin on fuel. When asked if he thought he could win had the yellow not come out, Taylor said he wasn’t quite sure.
“I think it would’ve been fine,” he said. “But at the same time, because of the yellow, these guys were pulled back up to us. It could’ve gone either way, really. We were just trying to maximize the package the car has. We don’t have enough fuel, really, to do a full stint. We kind of got lucky today.”
While Taylor and Miller closed on Wickens and Gottsacker in the championship standings, the No. 33 duo remains 50 points ahead with only two races – at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta – remaining on the 2023 schedule. Filippi, Wilkins and the No. 98 BHA Hyundai are 110 points from the leaders.
“We’re going to have to beat them in the next two races to beat them in the championship,” Miller said. “But we have a good car and the best team, so we’re looking forward to the rest of the season.”
The victory for the No. 17 did, however, push Audi into the TCR manufacturer points lead by just 10 over Hyundai, which is seeking its fourth straight crown.
The next Michelin Pilot Challenge race is four hours in length, on Saturday, Sept. 16 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The telecast of Saturday’s VIR race airs at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 3 on CNBC.