Stephen Simpson in GAINSCO Red Dragon LMP2 car at Watkins Glen six hours
Stephen Simpson as well as Misha Goikhberg and Chris Miller overcame the DPi manufacturers and fellow LMP2 challengers to win the 2018 Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen overall. | Photo: Jake Galstad / IMSA

An intrepid move on the final restart by Stephen Simpson made an overall win in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen possible for JDC-Miller Motorsports and a flawless series of final laps secured the feat for the small Minnesota-based team.

Simpson and the No. 99 JDC-Miller ORECA 07 ran third behind Jordan Taylor and Juan Pablo Montoya, driving DPi machinery from Cadillac and Acura, respectively, when the green flag returned with 36 minutes to go following a tire blowout for a GT Daytona competitor.

Montoya got by Taylor as the field streamed uphill through the first few bends of the 3.4-mile Watkins Glen International circuit, taking a low line in the No. 6 Acura ARX-05 and squeezing the Wayne Taylor Racing-run Cadillac DPi-V.R onto the inside curb of Turn 4. This move ultimately slowed both cars and allowed a surging Simpson to fly by in the No. 99 “Red Dragon” LMP2 machine.

Despite not taking on fresh Continental tires during the car’s final pit stop of the six-hour event, Simpson managed to build a considerable gap over Montoya as the clock wound down.

Romain Dumas, at the wheel of CORE autosport’s ORECA for the closing stint, pounced on Montoya while the Team Penske pilot reeled in Simpson. Taylor and the Konica Minolta Cadillac, meanwhile, faded out of contention on used rubber of its own.

Forced to divide his attention between catching Simpson and fending off former LMP1 star Dumas, Montoya ran out of time to return Simpson’s earlier favor and spark a battle for the overall victory.

Simpson completed the 202nd and final lap of the race with a 1.954-second buffer between his No. 99 ORECA and the similar No. 54 car of Dumas who tore past Montoya on the frontstretch with the checkered flag in sight.

In the Acura DPi’s first attempt at the six-hour race in upstate New York, Montoya brought the No. 6 car home in third, 0.142 seconds in arrears of the LMP2 car that stole the second position.

Romain Dumas laps Watkins Glen in CORE autosport ORECA LMP2
CORE autosport started at the back of the Prototype grid at Watkins Glen but was second after six hours of racing. | Photo: Jake Galstad / IMSA

Paul Di Resta, who started from the pole after the CORE team surrendered its pole-winning qualifying lap by changing its starting driver, added a third LMP2 challenger to the top five with a fourth-place result in the No. 32 Ligier JS P217 entered for the four Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup rounds by United Autosports.

More than 12 seconds back from the winning car, Taylor finished fifth as the top Cadillac DPi driver after the Wayne Taylor team spent the first days of the weekend as the top Cadillac team.

Two other Cadillacs crossed the start-finish line behind Taylor, with Filipe Albuquerque and Felipe Nasr finishing sixth and seventh in the Nos. 5 and 31 Action Express Racing entries after a fierce battle between the sister cars ended with Nasr being pushed well off track at Turn 8 after the final restart.

Simon Trummer and Will Owen were eighth and ninth in two other LMP2 cars ahead of Harry Tincknell, Tristan Vautier and Ricky Taylor in Mazda, Cadillac and Acura DPi cars.

These 12 cars are followed by the GT Le Mans field on the overall results while the top 10, ending with Tincknell and the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P, ended the race on the lead lap.

Taylor relieved Helio Castroneves in the No. 7 Acura for the race’s final stint after the car experienced gearbox issues and was brought to pit lane several times by Castroneves. This left Taylor’s brother Jordan and his Penske teammate Montoya as the only DPi drivers in contention for the win in a strong race for multiple LMP2 cars.

The Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix is next for all three IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship classes. Teams will begin preparations for the two-hour, 40-minute race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park just five days after the grueling Watkins Glen contest.

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