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What started as a strong run at Sebring International Raceway for IMSA standout Tyler Gonzalez ended in heartbreak. The veteran driver, competing in both the Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by Michelin and the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge this past weekend, started his event off on a high note, earning the win in the first wheel-to-wheel Mazda MX-5 Cup race at the bumpy and challenging Sebring facility.

Gonzalez, who qualified just off the pole in the second position, took an early jump to the front at the start of a full green-flag race. Battling amongst the top-three the entire race, Gonzalez made a last-lap, last-corner pass for the lead to steal another MX-5 Cup win.

Just as the second race was starting to look as if Gonzalez would once again be in contention for the win, it quickly went downhill for the young Floridian as he was hit from behind. In the process of claiming most laps led in the second Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup race, the collision from the back caused a wiring issue limiting the speed of the #57 Saito Motorsports Group car and forced Gonzalez to pull out of the lead and to the side of the track. After attempting to fix the problem himself, Gonzalez refired his engine and piloted back to the pit lane where the Saito Motorsports Group provided a more permanent solution. Despite a valiant effort to get back on the lead lap, Gonzalez crossed the finish line a lap down but scored some valuable championship points for his efforts.

“It’s tough and these things happen,” explained Gonzalez. “We’re going to keep pushing for the championship. I think if we had a good result, we would be in second in the standings, so we’ve gotten pushed back a little further but it’s nothing we can’t make up in the next few rounds.”

Due to his participation in the Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup race one, Tyler Gonzalez’s teammate Victor Gonzalez took the green flag for IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge qualifying, securing a ninth-place start for the 120-minute race. On Friday, Victor Gonzalez also took the green flag for the start of the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 race, but it was Tyler Gonzalez who completed the second half of the two-hour-long affair ultimately crossing the finish line in the same position they started earning another top-ten finish for the Victor Gonzalez Racing Team.

The next stop for the Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by Michelin series is May 10-12 where they will travel to the West Coast to take on WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Gonzalez will also continue his run in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge the same weekend in the Motul Course De Monterey Powered by Hyundai N.

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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