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The 2024 racing season in the United States was officially kicked off this past weekend marked by the famous Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona event at Daytona International Speedway. The weekend also included the season opener of the newly branded Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by Michelin and the opening round of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge (IMPC) program in which Tyler Gonzalez took part in both.

Gonzalez, an experienced driver in both of these series, paired up with fellow driver Victor Gonzalez to pilot the #99 Hyundai Veloster N TCR for the Victor Gonzalez Racing Team in the Michelin Pilot Challenge BMW M Endurance Challenge of Daytona, a four-hour-long event. In tandem with his driving duties in the IMPC, he also jumped behind the wheel of the #57 Saito Motorsports Group Mazda MX-5 in the Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup for the first two races of the season.

After qualifying in MX-5 Cup, Gonzalez piloted his way up to the front of the field. At one point, the 19-year-old was leading, but his true moment to shine came when he pushed from seventh place to second on the last lap of the race to stand on the podium in the opening MX-5 Cup race of the season for the third consecutive year.

“I’m really happy about my performance in this first race,” explained Gonzalez. “The team and I really wanted to start off strong, and we’re going to continue that momentum through the weekend.”

Despite his ability to move up the field in race one, he would start race two from 15th on the grid. Again, Gonzalez pushed his way to the front, eventually crossing the finish line second, however, a ten-second penalty assessed pushed the young talent back to ninth on the results sheet.

“It’s tough because I fought really hard to get to the front in race two,” explains Gonzalez. “It is what it is, and even with the ten-second penalty, we are still in the top-ten and we were still able to get those crucial championship points.”

On Friday, another top-ten was on Gonzalez’s horizon as he crossed the finish line of the IMPC BMW M Endurance Challenge at Daytona in tenth in the TCR class. Accompanied by his co-driver Victor Gonzalez, the VGRT duo finished in the top-ten after a four-hour-long race starting from 17th in class after failing to qualify due to an engine issue in practice.

“We had an unlucky qualifying,” added Gonzalez. “I happy with a top-ten result for this weekend. We will just be pushing harder at the next one.”

The next stop for the Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by Michelin is March 13-15 at Sebring International Raceway. Gonzalez will also continue his run in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge the same weekend in the Mobile 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

For more information on Tyler Gonzalez, please search for him via his social media pages at ‘Tyler Gonzalez Racing’.

Photo Credit: RTD Media

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