Parker, Colorado - Capstone Motorsports, a new-for-2021 sports car racing and motorsports company based in Parker, Colorado, earned its third-consecutive Pirelli GT4 America second-place class finish last Saturday at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) to highlight a wet and wild weekend of competition on the 3.4-mile Austin, Texas road course.
Team drivers John Allen and Kris Wilson compete this year in the Pirelli GT4 America "Am" class driving the No. 16 Capstone Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4. The duo secured second-place finishes in both rounds of March's season-opening weekend of competition at Sonoma Raceway in California and backed it up with another class runner-up result Saturday in the first of two Pirelli GT4 America races at COTA .
"Despite a wet start to the weekend, we earned our third consecutive runner-up finish of the season Saturday in the Am class," Allen said. "I felt like we really could have had Sunday too. I was ready to go, the team was ready to go, the car was good, the team did a good job and 'Wild Willy' Kris always does a good job."
Starting Sunday's second and final 60-minute Pirelli GT4 America race, Wilson battled from the drop of the green flag only to get caught up in a first-lap pileup involving numerous competitors. Wilson was among the hard-charging contenders in the front-half of the field when an over-zealous BMW competitor spun in front of the fast-moving pack.
"We were, if not the quickest, one of the quickest when it was full wet," Wilson said. "That really helped us in the first race but we never had a chance in Sunday's second round. I think some of those guys were a little over exuberant, because everybody feels like qualifying wasn’t great because of the rain. I’m sure there were guys back there who think they should have been way up there, and I think that’s what started it."
Wilson was one of the first competitors forced to dodge the stopped BMW but he didn't have enough room to quite make it through. The No. 16 sustained radiator and other contact damage although Wilson was able to drive the car back to the pits after the contact.
"I think the damage is mostly cosmetic," Wilson said. "I’m sure the radiators and things like that but it didn’t get into the suspension. I was hoping it would knock some sense into me too but I don’t think I’m any more intelligent now!"
The Capstone team featured at COTA for the second-straight race weekend returning University of Alabama College of Engineering interns Oakley Prell and new program teammates Julian Caudillo and Evan Jewson, two more UA Engineering students who will intern all season with Capstone.
The weekend's rain and Sunday's post-incident damage assessment of the No. 16 gave the trio of interns yet another new challenge and learning opportunity.
"I’m really pleased with the interns engaging," Allen said. "They’re starting to ask questions that are well beyond where they should be. It’s starting to kick in."
Capstone carries Allen's longtime support of his alma mater, the UA College of Engineering, with the trackside sports car racing internship program designed specifically to immerse UA Engineering students in the data-driven and technology aspects of modern-day sports car racing.
Next up for the No. 16 Capstone Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4 team, drivers and UA Engineering interns is the Pirelli GT4 America doubleheader at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR), June 4 - 6.
- The Sunday wreck reminded Wilson of one of cinema's most popular racing movies. "Unfortunately, my Days of Thunder training didn’t serve me well," Wilson said. "The Harry Hyde character - Harry Hogge - said go straight into the smoke at full throttle because by the time you get there the car will be gone. I don’t know if that was the right thing today!"
- The Days of Thunder scene where the crew enjoys some ice cream in the pits while their driver toils on the track also hints of one of Wilson's at-track pastimes. Wilson is a big fan of Payday candy bars and usually has one after a race, even a short-lived one like Sunday's sprint at COTA.