Tyler Gonzalez has had a busy 2023 competing in two separate series already but as the year comes to an end, the young gun returns once again to the Michelin Pilot Challenge roots where he has raced in the past. As part of the Victor Gonzalez Racing program, Tyler Gonzalez paired up with Victor himself to take on the final three rounds of the season and hit the track in the #99 Hyundai Elantra N TCR for the first time this past weekend at VIRginia International Raceway.
It was a short race weekend for the drivers of the Michelin Pilot Challenge having only two days of on-track action. Friday hosted both practice sessions and qualifying in preparation for Saturday’s Virginia Is For Racing Lovers Grand Prix. Jumping directly into an action-packed Friday Tyler and Victor were ready for practice. With his knowledge of the circuit, it was apparent that time away from the series had little effect on Tyler. Coming out of practice in eighth, they knew they were still searching for the pace.
Practice two rolled around that afternoon, and though a red flag halted the session for a short time, the #99 car was running in eighth position when the checkered flag flew.
“We knew what we had to do more to get the position we wanted in qualifying,” Tyler Gonzalez went on to explain. “However, with three of four on-track sessions being today, taking unnecessary risks is not something I am in favor of trying.”
The #99 entry eventually qualified in the 11th position and would start Saturday’s wheel-to-wheel race from the inside of row six.
Saturday came around and that evening it was go time for the Michelin Pilot Challenge drivers. Hitting the track just past 5pm, it was time for the two-hour Virginia Is For Racing Lovers Grand Prix. As the green flag waved it was Victor Gonzalez who took to the track first in the #99 entry. As the race continued, a yellow flag flew just after the half-hour mark. As the field went back green, Victor advanced forward and while several caution periods slowed the progress of the race, Tyler Gonzalez would take control for the last half of the two-hour event and after the driver changed, rejoined in eighth.
With under ten minutes remaining until the checkered flag, another yellow flag flew. With Tyler Gonzalez in the car, there was the possibility of a last-lap shootout to the finish line. With the safety car pulled in and one minute remaining, the field went green and Tyler was able to move up two positions on the last lap, although just missing out on the podium. Coming home with a fourth-place finish was a great start to the final three races of the 2023 in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge for Tyler Gonzalez and Victor Gonzalez Racing.
For more information on Tyler Gonzalez, please search for him via his social media pages at ‘Tyler Gonzalez Racing’.
Photo Credit: IMSA