As cars pitted and shuffled the order, the No. 82 BMW M4 of Clay pitted immediately during the caution and was able to move up as high as second place but pitted once more to top off with fuel and change drivers, putting them in 18th place in class for the restart before Cooke started moving up the leaderboard. A number of the leaders had to pit for a splash of fuel or had unexpected off-track excursions, which played to BimmerWorld’s strategy with the late-caution stop and moved the No. 82 up as high as 6th. But even without the heavy fuel conservation pace and the extra fuel from the late stop, the top GS car ran all the way to the finish without fuel issues, leaving Cooke and Clay with a top-10 finish.
James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., team owner and driver, No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries BMW M4 GT4:
“It was a good race for us. We made a change after qualifying. We had this ‘a-ha moment,’ and I think we had our car back. We’ve been struggling the last couple of rounds, so it was a really great car today. It turned into a fuel race. Once we started catching the yellows, we made strategy calls that I’m comfortable with. We got fuel early. We were the latest out of the pit lane, and we ran out of fuel on the cool-down lap. I say we did pretty well, but we really had to back off the pace to stay out that long and some of the other cars didn’t. It’s frustrating because it all comes back to the BoP [Balance of Performance], and it’s a really frustrating way to race and, of course, it’s when you play a fuel game and you don’t win the fuel game. At least we finished the race [in the] top 10, and that’s good for points. I think we had a great car and a great race; the strategy was there. It was all good except for the finish.”
Tyler Cooke, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., driver, No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries BMW M4 GT4:
“I can’t complain. We really thought we had a shot to win this one. Wayne [the race engineer] made the perfect call, except the leader crossed the start/finish line five seconds before and we had to do one more lap than expected. For the last 20 minutes, I was in big-time fuel-saving mode, but I had some good battles there at the beginning. We were struggling a little bit, so it made me make some hairy passes to make the most out of it that I could. I think it was a good points day for us. I think the No. 46 took the points lead now though, so that’s a bummer. Going into VIR, I feel pretty good about it. I really want to get on the podium’s top step soon. I think the BMW deserves it. I’m looking forward to VIR.”