Portante Scores Friday Atlantic Win at Mid-Ohio
Lexington, OH - Peter Portante finished first in the Friday afternoon Atlantic Championship Series race, round three of the 2017 season, held at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. It marked Portante's second win in the 2017 Atlantic season, as he started on pole and fended off a strong challenge from Keith Grant before building a gap toward the checkered flag in the No. 24 K-Hill Motorsports Swift 016/Mazda.
Portante started the season with a third place run at VIR, and won a day later, and has now added a first-place trophy at Mid-Ohio to his resume in Atlantic Championship Series competition.
"I'm excited to take two wins in a row, it's quite good," said Portante. "The cars were going away near the end of the race and I was the luckiest."
Keith Grant started second, missing out on pole by just .032 seconds. He fell back by two seconds early in the going before closing down to just a car-length away from the lead by lap nine.
Grant hounded Portante for a handful of laps in his No. 40 Swift 016/Mazda from Ohio-based Polestar Racing Group. He then had his hands full with his brother, David, which allowed Portante to escape, with Grant settling for a second place finish ahead of his brother in the 29-lap all-green-flag race.
"I was checking my mirrors and looking ahead," said Keith Grant. "I got up beside Peter at one point going down the back straight. He was on the inside and I had to give it up. I lost the front end and he got ahead of me again. It's hard to follow another car like this around Mid-Ohio."
David Grant also featured heavily in the morning's tight qualifying session, missing pole by .050 seconds and starting third, where he ultimately finished. He was on his brother's gearbox most of the race, but a pass attempt didn't work, and cost him enough Mid-Ohio track real estate to remove him from the conversation for the race lead.
"Keith and I were reeling Peter in toward the middle of the race," said David Grant, who also ran the fastest lap of the race. "We were catching him and the aero went away. I had two cars in front of me and my car was all over the place with two cars pushing the air in front. I came through turn 13 and was all over the place and didn't stop, I went off in the grass and lost a tremendous amount of time."
In the Masters Class, it was K-Hill Motorsports driver Bruce Hamilton that enjoyed a Friday afternoon outing, finishing fourth overall and leading every lap in class in his No. 06 Swift 014/Toyota.
"The car ran very well. We had wings and tires where we needed them and some good coaching, that made all the difference," Hamilton said.
Blake Mount completed the top five in another K-Hill Motorsports entry.
While the day started off cool at Mid-Ohio, the sun made an appearance through cloud cover for the 2:30 p.m. race, with temperatures reported at around 60 degrees Fahrenheit as Atlantic teams and drivers are running a two-day event with the F2000 and F1600 Championship Series.
Another Atlantic race follows on the Mid-Ohio weekend schedule on Saturday afternoon, in addition to five other Formula Race Promotions races in F2000 and F1600 on Saturday at Mid-Ohio.