by Patrick Rall
This past weekend, the third stop of the Dodge Viper Cup hit Virginia International Raceway for the 5th and 6th races of the 2011 season, with drivers Ben Keating and Jeff Courtney both claiming their second wins of the season. Keating entered this past weekend with a narrow lead in the 2011 Dodge Viper Cup season standings after finishing second in the 2010 campaign. Jeff Courtney was third behind A.J. Morgan, but with the largest ever field for a weekend-long Viper Cup event – every driver had their work cut out for them.
On Saturday, Ben Keating’s #33 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR-X started on the
pole position and he never looked at the back of another car – leading
from beginning to end as he tied up his second win of the season.
Keating had a fairly easy go of things, jumping out to a great start and
leaving second place starter Jeff Courtney to spend the entire 11 lap
race trying to catch up. In the end, Courtney had pulled within a half
second of Keating but he never truly challenged for the lead. While
Keating and Courtney may have been within a half second of each other -
the two put a serious whoopin’ to the rest of the field as the third
place finisher Ted Hughes was almost 26 seconds back; A.J Morgan was
over 32 seconds off of the winning pace as he finished fourth in his #59
Viper ACR-X; and Dave Fiorelli rounded out Saturday’s top 5 trailing by
almost 36 seconds. Celebrity driver and SRT brand CEO/President Ralph
Gilles finished in tenth place, 51 seconds out of first place.
For the Sunday race, Keating and Courtney once again took the top two
starting positions, but Keating was unable to get out to the huge head
start like he did in the first race of the weekend. When Keating took
his #33 Viper ACR-X a bit too wide on the fourth lap, Courtney and AJ
Morgan both capitalized on the error and jumped ahead of him. From
there on, Courtney battled shifting problems and low fuel levels at the
end to win his second race of the season by a margin of 1.784 seconds
over AJ Morgan. After failing to qualify due to electric issues on
Saturday and having to start at the back of the field, Morgan had a much
simpler route to the podium, taking the runner-up spot with Keating
finishing around 5 seconds behind him in third place. There was then a
huge gap to fourth place with Dave Fiorelli finishing 34 seconds back
and Michael von Quilich rounded out the top 5. SRT CEO Ralph Gilles had
a strong race on Sunday, finishing in sixth place with a final time
around 36.5 seconds off of the winning pace.
The next round of the 2011 Dodge Viper Cup is set to take place at the Texas World Speedway on September 2nd through the 4th.
For more information and up to date race results, go to Viper Headquarters!