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#73 Park Place sponsored Grand-Am of the Americas Wrapup

Park Place Grand-Am of the Americas Wrapup

Horton AutoSport and Park Place sponsored stable of cars has proven that the performance center’s team is a serious contender for a Grand-Am Rolex Series title in 2013 after some satisfying finishes in Saturday’s Grand-Am of the Americas race in Austin.

Despite some setbacks on the track, Park Place ran by Horton AutoSport cars posted 4th, 6th and 12th place finishes in the GT class on Saturday. Here’s a car-by-car breakdown.

No. 73 Park Place Motorsports/ Horton AutoSport

Porsche factory driver Patrick Long and his teammate Patrick Lindsey overcame a hefty early race penalty for contact deemed avoidable by Rolex Series officials and rallied for a fourth-place finish in the No. 73 Horton AutoSport/Park Place Motorsports Porsche GT3. Lindsey admittedly got just a bit too ambitious while trying to overtake the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R of John Edwards in the opening 30 minutes of the race and spun into Edwards’ car between turns 11 and 12. Shortly after turning the No. 73 Porsche over to Long under yellow at the 33-minute mark of today’s 2-hour, 45-minute race, Long was called back into the pits under green-flag conditions to serve a 60-second penalty for the contact. That sent the 73 car from the lead all the way back to 14th place, and Long executed a tremendous drive to the checkered flag, including a run from 12th place to his final finishing position of fourth in the final 25 minutes.

Patrick Long broke down his drive to the finish:

“We were 12th on my last restart with about 25 minutes to go. I knew I had a race car but I also knew that track position was going to be difficult because this track doesn’t make it easy to get around guys. A lot of cars got together and we were able to avoid all the melees and make a couple of passes. Ran pretty hard with (Anthony) Lazarro and we had some fun. Once I got past him and (Mike) Skeen, I was pulling the 44 and the 58 and just ran out of time. This was this team’s first top-five. We’re excited because this is our home race and to have two cars in the top-10 is exciting and the 71 car had a good run.”

No. 72 Vess Energy Services ran by Horton AutoSport

Mike Vess, chairman and managing owner of Wichita, Kansas-based Vess Oil, a company he co-founded in 1979, drove a strong and steady opening stint in the No. 72 Vess Energy Services Porsche. He turned things over to co-driver Mike Skeen at the 45-minute mark, and the veteran from Charlotte, N.C., took advantage of excellent fuel mileage to work his way into the top-three over the latter stages of the race before he could no longer hold off a handful of competitors with much newer tires in the closing laps. He finished sixth.

Mike Vess was quite happy with the team’s performance.

“I’m over the moon. I looked at the leaderboard and the group of drivers, the guys we’re competing against and running with, I mean it was fantastic. The car was so spot on. The car just kept telling you, ‘Hey, I got more, I got more.’ My role was to try to get us in clean and on the lead lap and then Mike Skeen just did a great job.”

No. 71 Godstone Ranch ran by Horton AutoSport

The No. 71 Godstone Ranch Porsche GT3, dubbed the “Heart Car” as its paint scheme was designed to generate awareness of the American Heart Association’s “Hands-Only CPR” program, netted a top-12 finish for its trio of drivers – John McCutchen II of Dallas, Chuck Cole of Maypearl, Texas, and Jason Hart of Flower Mound, Texas.

John McCutchen II couldn’t be happier about the race.

“The weekend went flawlessly. The Godstone Park Place car was one of three cars that ran flawlessly. The car was the easiest GT car I have ever driven in the Rolex Series, period. And that’s saying a lot. These guys just absolutely killed it. The Horton AutoSport crew guys were spot on there executions in the pits, it was flawless strategy. I couldn’t be more pleased with the Heart Car. It was a big, historic day. I was glad about how well we finished out. Not a bad outing. We got as much awareness on our program, got a million eyeballs on it and our message. You know, 400,000 people die each year because no one does CPR on them, so if we can get that message out and get people to want to go out and learn how to do it, we’ve accomplished our mission.”