Successful first street course event? CHECK.
PT Autosport with JDX Racing continued its 2023 learning curve this weekend as driver Alex Sedgwick contested his first-ever street race at the legendary Grand Prix of Long Beach. The 24-year-old British driver continued to impress in his rookie IMSA campaign as he brought the No. 98 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car home in eighth and fifth in two Porsche Deluxe Carrera Cup North America (PDCCNA) races.
The PDCCNA joined two of the top series in North America– the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – as they navigated the 11-turn, 1.968-mile streets of Long Beach. The 33-car field battled hard, with plenty of action in the pair of 40-minute races.
Two practice sessions on Friday gave Sedgwick the chance to come to grips (literally and figuratively) with the art of street circuit racing, where one small mistake can bring the hard, concrete walls into play. Sedgwick set solid lap times in the first half of practice one and was working on a late hot lap when an untimely red flag left him in 14th position. The team made significant adjustments to the car during the second practice as Sedgwick once again paced among the leaders early but was not able to find the perfect balance, settling for 13th.
The team put it all together in qualifying late Friday afternoon, finding pace through the entire session. Sedgwick set his quick time of the weekend – a lap at 1:19.840 – only six-tenths of a second behind the leader.
Race One – starting position: 7th
The jostling began at the drop of the green flag, with Sedgwick checked up and boxed in through the turn one and two complex, allowing three cars to squeeze by on the outside. Unfortunately, the full field did not escape unscathed, with a car embedded in the turn two fountain flower bed bringing out a full course caution.
Nearly 17 minutes later, the race returned to green, with Sedgwick determined to push forward. He moved into the top 10 on lap nine, and into P9 with 10 minutes remaining. But with eight minutes to go, two cars came together in turn eight – with Sedgwick, the third car through the scene, employing a quick maneuver to miss them. The race ended under caution and with a penalty to a car ahead, Sedgwick finished in eighth.
“I just didn’t get the launch I needed and that put me behind,” said Sedgwick. “I got stuck outside the racing line for a few corners and lost a few positions. I was able to get a few back but there just weren’t enough green laps. But the pace was good, and I figured out where I could overtake, and how to manage the car in these conditions.”
Race Two – starting position: 5th
Race two took the green flag at the end of the race day on Sunday following the INDYCAR feature event. Once again, drama ensued at the drop of the green, with several cars spinning on the opening lap but continuing without causing a yellow. Sedgwick lost two positions in the standard turn one chaos but got one back immediately out of the exit and made a slick inside move in turn eight to regain the other.
But four minutes into the race, the full course caution came out with a car into the wall in turn nine. Returning to green, Sedgwick stuck to the rear wing of the fourth-place car, looking for a place to make a move as the top six separated themselves from the rest of the field. Unfortunately, green flag racing did not continue long, with another car tagging the turn nine wall just before the halfway point.
When the race returned to green with just over 13 minutes remaining, the leaders once again tested passing opportunities in a frenetic lap before settling into a 10-car nose-to-tail train. With three minutes remaining, third and fourth began making moves, giving Sedgwick several looks at a possible pass, but without the room to create a high percentage opportunity. Sedgwick wisely held his ground, taking a season-high fifth place finish at the checkered flag as his JDX Racing teammate Will Martin took the win.
“The front pack is so evenly matched, you’re just waiting for someone to make a mistake – but the level of competition is so high, not many people make mistakes,” said Sedgwick. “But one of the drivers ahead was the championship leader and he wasn’t driving away from us, so that’s good in terms of pace. But we’re happy with how the weekend went, it’s a big step forward from Sebring in terms of understanding the car. Super happy for Will (Martin) it shows the kind of cars JDX puts together. More learning points to take forward to Miami!”
PT Autosport team principal Jason Myers was also pleased with the overall effort – especially given the fact that this was only Sedgwick’s third full weekend in the car.
“Super stoked with our first top five qualifying effort and first top five finish,” said Myers. “There was some great racing by the entire field, especially in that second race. Alex has been able to keep it really clean and has been incredibly composed – avoiding some major mishaps and turning quick, consistent laps. We all definitely think he’s headed toward a podium and that first win very shortly!
“Huge shoutout to JDX and to Alex’s race engineer, Ryan,” Myers continued. “He’s made sure he and Alex are on the same page and have dialed that car in, which takes a lot of trust and communication. It’s just another example of the professional level at which JDX operates. We’re all looking forward to Miami and continuing to fight for that first podium!”
Next month, the Deluxe Porsche Carrera Cup North America races alongside Formula One at the F1 Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix. Race one takes the green flag Saturday, May 6 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern, with race two Sunday at 12:25 p.m. The race will be broadcast live in the U.S., on IMSA.tv, the NBC Peacock streaming app and PorscheCarreraCup.us.
PT Autosport would like to thank JDX Racing partners Byers/Porsche Columbus, Renier Construction, PDCA Inc., and Revamp Marketing.