GRAND-AM Of The Americas

Taylor tops Pruett for GRAND-AM Rolex win at Kansas

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In a battle of youth versus experience, 22-year-old Jordan Taylor (pictured) held back five-time GRAND-AM champion Scott Pruett over the final half-hour to win tonight’s inaugural event for the Rolex Sports Car Series at Kansas Speedway.

With father and team owner Wayne Taylor looking on, Jordan took the lead in the No. 10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette DP with around an hour and ten minutes remaining in the 2-hour, 45-minute SFP Grand Prix.

He would pit from the lead with 42 minutes remaining and then cycle back to the front to set-up a battle for the win against Pruett, who valiantly drove to overcome early trouble for his No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing BMW/Riley.

Less than 15 minutes into the race, Pruett’s co-driver, Memo Rojas, spun out the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP of Christian Fittipaldi from the lead and was penalized for avoidable contact with a stop-plus-60 second penalty on pit road.

The incident also damaged the No. 01, but after repairs, Pruett brought it back into contention and as the clock ticked down, he wouldn’t let Taylor run away.

However, the youngster stayed poised and eventually pulled out the third win of the season for himself and No. 10 co-driver Max Angelelli.

“This race was all strategy and keeping the car up front – the guys had the perfect strategy to short-fill at the beginning and have me be the first one to make the last stop,” Jordan told Fox Sports in Victory Lane. “Max was flawless, and the [crew] was flawless.”

Taylor and Angelelli also took over the Daytona Prototypes championship lead by two points over Fittipaldi and three points over the previous leaders, the No. 2 Starworks Motorsport team of Alex Popow and Ryan Dalziel.

Popow spun on the opening lap and then later on in the first hour, he made contact with an infield wall that inflicted heavy rear damage to the Starworks BMW/Riley. The car would eventually return to action but at 21 laps off the pace and would finish 22nd overall.

In GT, Alessandro Balzan and Leh Keen won in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458. Balzan not only got his first career Rolex Series victory, but he also jumped to the top of the GT standings by one point over the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche team of John Potter and Andy Lally.

“It’s really good to have a win at this point of the championship,” Balzan said to Fox. “You have to show that you are there. I can’t ask for better from Scuderia Corsa and from ‘my baby’ [the car].”

Potter and Lally’s strong run of consistency finally ended when Lally hit debris on the track at the Turn 2/3 chicane. The hit severely damaged the No. 44’s radiator, and eventually led to an 18th-place finish.

In GX, Joel Miller and Tristan Nunez notched their second straight class win in the No. 00 Speedsource Mazda6.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Sage Karam

Sage Karam
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver. Ending in 20th was Sage Karam, who generated a lot of headlines despite missing a handful of races in his first full season in the big leagues.

Sage Karam, No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

  • 2014: 9th place at Indianapolis 500; several starts in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship
  • 2015: 20th place (12 starts), Best Finish 3rd, Best Start 3rd, 1 Podium, 2 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 12 Laps Led, 14.5 Avg. Start, 15.8 Avg. Finish

Few drivers generated as much ink as Karam did during what as an ultimately race-by-race rookie season that saw him active in 12 of 16 races. It was an overall rocky campaign that featured any combination of brilliance, controversy and heartache depending on the weekend.

Karam was on the back foot to begin with anyway with limited preseason testing, following a wrist injury sustained in a crash at Barber Motorsports Park. The fact he was out of a car for Long Beach and the Grand Prix of Indianapolis owed to financial reasons but also served as a wakeup call that he needed to improve off the back of several ragged races to open the season. The speed was there for the Indianapolis 500 but the result wasn’t, with a first-lap crash and the following debacle of a doubleheader weekend at Detroit a week later ultimately Karam’s nadir.

Luckily for the 20-year-old, he had Dario Franchitti as a tutor, mentor and coach, and a post-Detroit “come to Jesus” meeting might have been the biggest impetus for change. Karam then surged in the second half of the year – primarily on ovals – and worked his way into the headlines courtesy of his driving and take-no-prisoners aggressive approach, particularly with Ed Carpenter at Iowa. In a single sentence, he was worth the price of admission almost on his own while also putting himself in contention for series “black hat” status.

Karam was on track for what would have been a dream weekend at home in Pocono, leading with 20 laps to go, when he lost control and crashed out – the debris from the car ultimately striking Justin Wilson’s helmet. It was a tragic end to the race but it was no fault of Karam’s that what happened, happened.

For as much as the community is rallying around Wilson’s family, it needs to do the same for Karam. At 20, he’s a talented driver with a bright future ahead of him, who continued to mature over the course of the season. You just don’t want Pocono to be the race that affects him psychologically, and prevents him from fully realizing his undoubted potential.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Stefano Coletti

Stefano Coletti
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MotorSportsTalk continues its look through the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series driver-by-driver lineup. In 19th place and the second-ranked rookie this season, was KV Racing Technology’s Stefano Coletti.

Stefano Coletti, No. 4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet

  • 2014: GP2
  • 2015: 19th Place, Best Finish 8th, Best Start 8th, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 0 Laps Led, 18.9 Avg. Start, 18.6 Avg. Finish

Coletti struggled in his rookie season, which was a bit surprising after an impressive preseason testing period that helped him secure the second KV Racing Technology car alongside KVSH Racing lead driver Sebastien Bourdais.

The GP2 graduate produced early season excitement where he was a passing star, but that only seemed to deceive for the rest of the year. The only time he started ahead of Bourdais was at Iowa, when Bourdais crashed in qualifying.

Similar to other drivers KV has had in previous years Coletti was often hard on equipment, with a frequent number of either full-on accidents or less damaging spins, although not all were his fault. A trouble-free weekend for him rarely occurred, and eighth at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis marked his only top-10 result of the year.

It was a year that paled in comparison to Sebastian Saavedra’s difficult 2014, which paled in comparison to Simona de Silvestro in 2013, which… well you get the point. The lack of consistency for the team’s second car probably doesn’t help, but Coletti offered few moments of brilliance in a deep field where he needed to stand out.

Given the resources at his disposal, ending 78 points behind rookie-of-the-year Gabby Chaves seemed a fairly substantial margin. If he returns for 2016, he has a big jump to make.