Pirelli World Challenge: O’Connell, Roush Jr. win Long Beach poles

Leave a comment

Johnny O’Connell earned the GT pole and Jack Roush Jr. did the same in the GTS class ahead of tomorrow’s Pirelli World Challenge race on the streets of Long Beach.

O’Connell (No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V.R) set a new GT track record with a time of 1:20.386, toppling the previous mark of 1:21.087 set by James Sofronas last year.

His Cadillac Racing teammate, Andy Pilgrim, will start alongside him on the GT front row after logging a time of 1:20.633.

As for Roush Jr. (No. 60 ROUSH Road Racing Ford Mustang Boss 302R), he too set a track record in GTS with his lap of 1:27.325. That eclipsed Andy Lee’s old record of 1:27.662, which was set last year.

Nic Jonsson (No. 36 Kia Motors America Kia Optima) earned P2 on the GTS grid for tomorrow’s race thanks to his time of 1:27.509. St. Petersburg GTS winner and defending GTS class champion Lawson Aschenbach qualified third with a 1:27.512 in his No. 1 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro.

Fastest in the GT-A subcategory for gentlemen drivers was Nick Mancuso (No. 16 R.Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 458 Italia), who will start 7th on the GT grid after posting a 1:21.329.

World-ChallengeTV.com will stream tomorrow’s race starting at 7 p.m. ET, while NBCSN will air the race broadcast next Sunday, April 20, at 5:30 p.m. ET.

PIRELLI WORLD CHALLENGE – LONG BEACH
Qualifying Results

GT Class
1. No. 3 – Johnny O’Connell, Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V R, 1:20.386, 88.1347 mph
2. No. 8 – Andy Pilgrim, Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V R, 1:20.633, 87.864 mph
3. No. 61 – Anthony Lazzaro, R.Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, 1:20.698, 87.794 mph
4. No. 9 – Alex Figge, K-PAX Racing McLaren 12C GT3, 1:20.729, 87.760 mph
5. No. 21 – Andrew Palmer, GMG Racing Audi R8 Ultra, 1:20.964, 87.505 mph
6. No. 6 – Robert Thorne, K-PAX Racing McLaren 12C GT3, 1:21.144, 87.311 mph
7. No. 16 – Nick Mancuso(A), R.Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 458 GT3, 1:21.329, 87.112 mph
8. No. 14 – James Sofronas, Spyder/The Thermal Club Audi R8 Ultra, 1:21.629 86.792 mph
9. No. 2 – Mike Skeen, Hawk Performance Audi R8 Ultra, 1:21.756, 86.657 mph
10. No. 31 – Tim Bergmeister, EFFORT Racing Porsche GT3R, 1:22.137, 86.255 mph
11. No. 64 – Mike Hedlund, DragonSpeed/ESM Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, 1:22.181, 86.209 mph
12. No. 10 – Henrik Hedman(A), DragonSpeed Ferrari 458 GT3, 1:22.422, 85.957 mph
13. No. 41 – Michael Mills(A), EFFORT Racing Porsche GT3R, 1:22.648, 85.722 mph
14. No. 44 – Brent Holden(A), GMG Racing Audi R8 Ultra, 1:23.146, 85.209 mph
15. No. 80 – Dan Knox(A), ACS MFG/Performance SpeedTech SRT Viper GT3R, 1:23.377, 84.973 mph
16. No. 32 – Bret Curtis(A), Spectra/United Steel/Valspar Audi R8 Ultra, 1:23.645, 84.700 mph
17. No. 99 – Jeff Courtney(A), Kenda/RecStuff.com Audi R8 Ultra, 1:24.058, 84.284 mph
18. No. 54 – Tim Pappas(A), Black River Caviar Mercedes AMG SLS GT3, 1:24.136, 84.206 mph
19. No. 15 – Tomy Drissi, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Aston Martin GT3, 1:24.462, 83.881 mph
20. No. 95 – Bill Ziegler(A), Swisher Racing/GMG Audi R8 Ultra, 1:25.354, 83.004 mph
(A) denotes GT-A subcategory drivers

GTS Class
1. No. 60 – Jack Roush Jr., ROUSH Road Racing Ford Mustang Boss302R, 1:27.325, 81.131 mph
2. No. 36 – Nic Jonsson, Kia Motors America Kia Optima, 1:27.509, 80.960 mph
3. No. 1 – Lawson Aschenbach, Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro, 1:27.512, 80.958 mph
4. No. 33 – Tony Buffomante, Capaldi Racing/Ford Racing Ford Mustang Boss302S, 1:27.862, 80.635 mph
5. No. 73 – Jack Baldwin, RESET-MD/StopTech/Motul Porsche Cayman S, 1:27.871, 80.627 mph
6. No. 17 – Alec Udell, Watson Racing Ford Mustang Boss 302S, 1:28.297, 80.238 mph
7. No. 38 – Mark Wilkins, Kia Motors America Kia Optima, 1:28.328, 80.210 mph
8. No. 20 – Andy Lee, Crown7.com/BestIT Racing Chevrolet Camaro, 1:28.331, 80.207 mph
9. No. 52 – David Sterckx, BG Reach Out Worldwide Ford Mustang Boss 302S, 1:28.568, 79.992 mph
10. No. 02 – Drew Regitz, TRG-AMR North America Aston Martin GT4, 1:28.814, 79.771 mph
11. No. 96 – Brad Adams, VoodooMusic/DatDog/Yo MTVRaps! Ford Mustang Boss 302S, 1:29.206, 79.420 mph
12. No. 51 – Ric Bushey, Nissan/Motul/SPL/OSGiken Nissan 370Z, 1:29.436, 79.216 mph
13. No. 97 – Mitch Landry, VersaCrane/DeepSouth Ford Mustang Boss 302S, 1:29.558, 79.108 mph
14. No. 11 – Tony Gaples, BlackDog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro, 1:29.594, 79.076 mph
15. No. 01 – Don Istook, Forge Motorsports/Recaro Audi TTRS, 1:29.934, 78.777 mph
16. No. 40 – Geoff Reeves, BestIT/Bondurant School Chevrolet Camaro, 1:31.335, 77.569 mph
17. No. 75 – Erik Davis, Reach Out Worldwide Ford Mustang Boss302S, 1:31.611, 77.335 mph
18. No. 72 – Buz McCall, RESET-MD/StopTech/Motul Porsche Cayman S, 1:32.443, 76.639 mph
19. No. 34 – Nick Esayian, Natural Cures Aston Martin GT4, 1:34.147, 75.252 mph
20. No. 04 – Jorge De La Torre, TRG-AMR North America Aston Martin GT4, 1:37.469, 72.687 mph

IndyCar’s 2018 full-field grid nearing completion

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Following Wednesday’s confirmation of the all-Canadian tandem at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, each of the eight full-time teams in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season have announced at least one driver for 2018, leaving very few remaining question marks.

What stands confirmed is below:

CONFIRMED

  • Team Penske (3, Chevrolet): Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power
  • Chip Ganassi Racing (1, Honda): Scott Dixon
  • Andretti Autosport (4, Honda): Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi, Marco Andretti, Zach Veach
  • Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (2, Honda): Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato
  • Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (2, Honda): James Hinchcliffe, Robert Wickens
  • Ed Carpenter Racing (2, Chevrolet): Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter (ovals)
  • A.J. Foyt Enterprises (1, Chevrolet): Tony Kanaan
  • Dale Coyne Racing (1, Honda): Sebastien Bourdais
  • Harding Racing (1, Chevrolet): Gabby Chaves

There are four additional drivers confirmed for selected races or an month of May program:

  • Team Penske (1, Chevrolet): Helio Castroneves
  • Andretti Autosport (1, Honda): Stefan Wilson
  • Calmels Sport with SPM (1, Honda): Tristan Gommendy
  • Team TBD (1, TBD): Kyle Kaiser

All told that’s 17 full-season driver and team combinations confirmed and four additional part-time programs, at least, that are set. Several of those driver/team combinations will have engineering and strategist changes, as well.

In a minor note since our last update at Sonoma, Marco Andretti confirmed he won’t run No. 27 next year. Of note, Bryan Herta served as Andretti’s race strategist this year, although the car he was an entrant on was Alexander Rossi’s No. 98 car. Herta will continue his relationship with Andretti Autosport again next season.

WHAT’S LEFT TO SORT? NOT MUCH

Elsewhere, there’s only a handful of remaining question marks as the series hits mid-October, a rarity from past years and an illustration of the urgency to fill seats to get as much preparation time in testing with the new 2018 Dallara universal aero kit as possible.

NBC Sports expects 2016 Indy Lights champion and 2017 IndyCar rookie-of-the-year Ed Jones to be confirmed soon as second driver in Dale Coyne Racing’s No. 19 Honda alongside Sebastien Bourdais, with team personnel and Bourdais both having indicated a preference in keeping the Dubai-based Brit for a second year.

NBC Sports also expects Jones’ successor as Indy Lights champion, Kyle Kaiser, to have his future announced shortly in terms of which team he’ll step up to IndyCar with. It would not be a surprise if Kaiser does graduate along with Juncos Racing, although Kaiser is known to have talked to multiple teams. The Mazda Motorsports scholarship nets him $1 million for a three-race program, including the 102nd Indianapolis 500, with the driver then needing to secure additional funding for further races, as Jones and Pigot both have each of the last two years.

The status of Brendon Hartley has now been thrown up as a slight question mark dependent on how his Formula 1 debut with Scuderia Toro Rosso goes at this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, and if Toro Rosso provides him a further race opportunity in one of the remaining three Grands Prix thereafter. Having been all-but-earmarked for Chip Ganassi Racing’s second seat in 2018, if an F1 offer comes, Hartley’s potential IndyCar bow could get delayed.

A McLaren-named entry competing either in the Indianapolis 500 or full-time seems further off than realistic for next year, McLaren’s Zak Brown told reporters on a teleconference this week. McLaren maintains an IndyCar technical presence though, via its McLaren Applied Technologies outfit.

What’s left then are the dominoes of whether Carlin’s IndyCar plans officially come to fruition as the team has gotten closer than it ever has to doing so, and who emerges in the second seats at A.J. Foyt Enterprises and Ed Carpenter Racing (road and street courses), respectively.

A number of young IndyCar veterans – Max Chilton, Charlie Kimball, Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly namely – are yet to land for 2018 and there’s no guarantee all four of them will be back in IndyCar next season.

There’s also a handful of young drivers, namely RC Enerson, Jack Harvey, Esteban Gutierrez, Santiago Urrutia, Zachary Claman DeMelo, Sage Karam and Matthew Brabham among others, who could well emerge in the frame for seats.

Gutierrez’s status seemed dependent on Mexico City being added to the 2018 calendar, and although the race still could be added, the fact neither is in place at this point doesn’t inspire as much confidence about his presence as a regular on the grid as it did earlier this summer.

All told, there’s not nearly that much to sort out as IndyCar’s grid for 2018 is looking very much close to set at this early stage of a long offseason.