After struggling in practice and enduring an engine change on Thursday night prior to Friday's qualifying session, Tyler Gonzalez rewarded his team with a triple podium performance including a victory in race three at the Virginia International Raceway (VIR). Adding to his win from the Circuit of the Americas in March, Gonzalez has solidified himself as a championship contender after the first five events of the season.
"It was definitely difficult on Wednesday and Thursday, and I was convinced we were going to be in for a long week of racing," expressed Gonzalez. "The team worked hard and after diagnosing the issue, we decided to swap the engine but did not have one. Fortunately, a local Hyundai dealership in town had a Veloster available so we had to bite the bullet and go collect it. When you are fighting for a championship, you have to do whatever it takes to win."
With the Copeland Motorsports crew working to nearly 5am on Friday morning, a quick hour-long nap at the hotel was all that the team could afford before qualifying on Friday morning. With no practice to test the new engine, it was straight to qualifying where Gonzalez turned the sixth fastest lap of the session and lined up for race one from the outside of row three.
Looking to salvage some points, Gonzalez worked his way forward to the third position en route to scoring the fastest lap of the race.
Gonzalez added, "Standing on the podium in P3 felt like a win after all that we have gone through this weekend. I think we have a car that can win, so Saturday and Sunday we will be looking for more."
Starting from the pole position during the second wheel-to-wheel action of the weekend, Gonzalez would lose one position throughout the forty-minute event but secure his second podium result of the weekend in P2.
Starting from the tail of the field in Sunday's third and final race of the weekend, Gonzalez put on a clinic driving to the front of the field and taking the win. With the victory, his second of the season, Gonzalez had a podium sweep in all three races this past weekend and has put his name firmly in the championship battle.
With less than one month until the next event, Tyler Gonzalez and his Copeland Motorsports team will head west to Sonoma Raceway in Napa, California August 7 - 9th.