O’Connell Wins in SRO3 Class
Holland Continues Winning Streak in 2023
The clouds seemed to part for just enough time to complete Race One for the GT America powered by AWS series at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. Johnny O’Connell took home his first win of the year in the SRO3 Class and Robb Holland made it three wins in a row on the streets of Nashville in GT4.
Due to rain the starting grid was set by the fastest lap times of Practice Two. This made Jason Daskalos in the No. 27 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 the pole sitter in the SRO3 Class. Holland and his No. 099 Rotek Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport was awarded the pole for the GT4 Class.
The drop of the green flag brought the drama with O’Connell in the No. 3 SKI Autosport Audi R8 LMS lunging for the lead from third. He quickly overtook Mirco Schultis in the No. 70 MISHUMOTORS Corvette C7 GT3 R for second. Daskalos was busy building a five-second lead over the field when Alex Vogel in the No. 043 OnlyFans Racing with P1 Groupe by MRS Porsche 911 GT3 R ran into trouble. He safely made it to the run-off and continued the race.
Todd Treffert faced a similar fate in the No. 41 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. He also found room in the runoff of a corner to keep damage out of the equation. Shortly after leader Daskalos came together with lap traffic. While attempting to continue he made contact with a wall, causing minor damage. The damage didn’t stop Daskalos from catching back up to a second-place Memo Gidley in the No. 101 TKO Motorsports Mercedes-AMG. His misfortune did hand over the lead to O’Connell who went on to build an 11-second lead.
Gidley inherited second place when Schultis took to the runoff prior to the halfway point in the race. Daskalos and Gidley put on a nail-biting show for the fans through nightfall. Daskalos would best Gidley with 11 minutes remaining in the 40-minute battle. O’Connell went on to win Race One followed by Daskalos and Gidley.
The GT4 Class had a more cut-and-dry race. Holland, who won both races in 2022, proved to be just as competitive. He maintained the lead from green to checkered flag without issue. He built a nearly nine-second lead over Jason Bell in the No. 2 Flying Lizard Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 who ran a perfect race himself. He built a gap of 13 seconds over third place Ross Chouest in the No. 50 Chouest Povoledo Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4.
Chouest had equally as clean of race with the closest competition being that of fourth place Nicholas Shanny in the No. 21 Carrus Callus Raceteam Toyota Gazoo Racing GR Supra GT4. Shanny advanced a position after Gray Newell in the No. 25 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 brushed a wall and was caught in a corner with Daskalos. Newell went on to finish the race seventh in class.
Rusty Bittle, a native Tennessean, in the No. 7 Flatrock Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 CLUBSPORT MR finished the race fifth after starting sixth. This was his first race of the 2023 season. Tony Gaples advanced from seventh to sixth in his No. 5 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4 R.
The action continues Sunday, Aug. 6 with Race Two set to go green at 3:35 p.m. CT. Tickets to the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix are available for purchase at the gate. Fans can watch the live stream on the YouTube channel GT World. Join the conversation on Twitch with host Ash Vandelay.