WATKINS GLEN - Eighteen-year-old Dylan Murry overcame a brief rain shower and pulled ahead of Corey Fergus with five minutes to go to capture the victory in the Tioga Downs Resort Casino 240 Michelin Challenge at Watkins Glen Saturday.
Murry, along with co-drivers James Cox and Jeroen Bleekemolen, took home their first win in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Series this season for Riley Motorsports driving the No. 35 Mercedes-AMG.
“Me and Jim were really struggling to watch it [at the end],” said Bleekemolen. “Dylan [Murry] did an amazing drive. You know how hard it is at the end to stay out of trouble and the [wet-weather tires] are going to be quicker for a few laps. There’s a lot of uncertainty there and you have to pick the moment when to pass.”
The rain shower came with less than 37 minutes remaining in Saturday's 4-hour endurance race, Murry and his team pressed on without switching to rain tires, a decision he wasn’t sure of at first.
“That first pitstop I made while I was driving the car, we put on two new left-side Michelin tires,” said Murry. “I’m like, ‘Maybe it’s the right choice, maybe it's not, we still have a little over half an hour to go.’ It was definitely the right choice.”
With nine minutes to go, Bill Auberlin in the No. 96 car, as well as Fergus, pulled ahead of Murry on rain tires.
“It was very stressful,” Murry said. “I didn’t know if it was going to dry up that quick. I saw the sun coming out. After two or three laps, I knew there was going to be grip in the car.”
Murry is no stranger to the elements, battling rain and finishing second earlier in the season at Mid-Ohio.
“It was very fun,” said Murry of driving in the rain. “I personally prefer driving in the rain, I like it. It really adds a whole other art to racing. I just love it and I click to it. To be able to drive in changing conditions that quickly, is very fun.”
While this was Murry’s first win at Watkins Glen, his father Dave has two previous Grand Sport division wins on the track.
“To be racing in my dad's footsteps is very special,” said Murry. “I’m looking forward to coming back [to Watkins Glen] to race in the NASCAR K&N race here.”
Mat Pombo and co-driver Mike LaMarra overcame an early crash for a victory in the TCR class, a first in both drivers’ careers.
“That’s a first,” said Pombo. “I spun and got some luck and won. It caught me out on the last turn, there was a lot of rain in it. I saw it in front of me and slowed down way more than I had before and there just wasn’t any grip. It actually stopped at the wall.”
Pombo reversed and kept going after the misstep, not losing a lap.