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.

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.