Photo courtesy of IMSA

Taylors hit the high-five in Detroit; Acura breaks through in GTD

Leave a comment

DETROIT – Not even an accident in qualifying and further Balance of Performance adjustments could stop the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R in the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.

Ricky Taylor and Jordan Taylor parlayed a mix of great driving and great strategy to secure their fifth straight win in as many races in Prototype and overall, an incredible effort by the drivers and the Wayne Taylor Racing team.

Meanwhile the Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 team broke through for its first win yet in GT Daytona, courtesy of an excellent drive from both Andy Lally and Katherine Legge in the No. 93 car, while Performance Tech Motorsports continued its own streak in Prototype Challenge with its fourth win in as many races in that class, courtesy of James French and Pato O’Ward in the No. 38 Oreca FLM09.

Ricky Taylor had the fastest time in qualifying on Friday afternoon for the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic race, but crashed out at Turn 4. IMSA set the grid in Prototype by points and although the No. 10 car was the points leader, it was sent to the back of the combined Prototype and Prototype Challenge entries for causing the red flag.

It mattered not. The older Taylor brother made it up to seventh on the grid from 12th place on the opening lap, and was up to fifth before pit stops.

Past half distance and after the first and only full course caution of the race, now with Jordan Taylor in the car, the No. 10 car was fourth behind the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac of Dane Cameron and Eric Curran, the No. 70 Mazda RT24-P of Joel Miller and Tom Long, and the polesitting No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac of Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi.

With 48 minutes to go, the No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi set in motion the final round of pit stops to get to the checkered flag. Others followed, with the Nos. 5, 55, 85 and 10 cars all pitting within the next seven minutes. While the No. 2 car took another set of Continental tires, the rest took fuel only.

What was imperative to watch was whether the gap would be enough for the No. 31 car to pit with enough of a gap to get Cameron in for a final splash and sustain the lead.

Taylor gained five seconds in four laps from Lap 37 to 41 and got as close as 26.501 seconds but lost time in traffic.

Cameron, however, did not bank enough of a gap to pit and keep the lead. It was a 29.066 second gap over Taylor but that wasn’t enough, and Taylor swept through to the lead once Cameron pitted on Lap 49.

Cameron was second in the No. 31 car with Miller and Long able to finally score a podium in the No. 70 Mazda. This is the third straight street race the Mazda has been on the podium, starting with Detroit last year and Long Beach again this year.

The Prototype battle behind them for the final positions got a bit nuts within the final 15 minutes. When trying to pass Barbosa for fourth, Stephen Simpson spun at Turn 1 in the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson and Tristan Nunez took crazy evasive, drifting action to avoid them in the No. 55 Mazda.

With less than 10 minutes to go, the No. 2 Nissan went behind the wall, which made for a similarly frustrating late race end as occurred at Circuit of The Americas.

The GTD lead was shifted entirely on the first and only full-course caution, caused with two separate incidents just shy of the 30-minute mark. Ben Keating, in the No. 33 Riley Motorsports-Team AMG Mercedes AMG-GT3, impacted the Turn 8 wall on the exit and caused significant right front damage. Meanwhile, at Turn 3, an apparent brake failure shot Kenny Habul’s No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 across the road and into a hapless Renger van der Zande, the Dutchman in the No. 90 VISIT FLORIDA Racing Riley Mk. 30 Gibson with absolutely nowhere to go except into the tire barriers.

Lawson Aschenbach had led from the pole from the off in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS, with one of the BAR1 Motorsports PC cars acting as a buffer to the rest of the GTD field.

At the pit stop, the No. 57 Audi led the No. 93 Acura, No. 48 Lamborghini, No. 28 Porsche and No. 16 Lamborghini.

After the pit stops, the No. 93 Acura moved ahead of the No. 28 Porsche, No. 63 Ferrari, No. 57 Audi and No. 48 Lamborghini.

The No. 16 Lamborghini and No. 28 Porsche both received penalties which knocked them back, and later issues hit both the No. 57 Audi and No. 50 Mercedes-AMG.

It left the No. 93 Acura clear of the No. 63 Ferrari of Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan at the finish.

Shank’s team was poised for a double podium, but with five minutes remaining, Jeff Segal ran wide at Turn 7 and lost third place, with Madison Snow (sharing with Bryan Sellers) in the No. 48 Lamborghini and Jens Klingmann (sharing with Bret Curtis) in the No. 96 BMW slipping through. It was a bittersweet end to that race after Segal and Ozz Negri drove the rebuilt car.

PC was uneventful from the off, Performance Tech Motorsports leading flag-to-flag for its fourth win in as many races ahead of the pair of BAR1 Motorsports entries. French and O’Ward now have wins at 24-hour, 12-hour, two-hour, 40-minute and 100-minute race distances.

Dixon finally breaks through at Road America

Getty Images
Leave a comment

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – After a year of near misses and frustration, Scott Dixon has finally captured his first win of the Verizon IndyCar Series season.

The driver of the No. 9 NTT Data Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing has won today’s KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America after leading 24 of 55 laps, and holding off a late charge from Josef Newgarden, best of Team Penske’s quartet.

The win also provides Mike Hull a victory on his 25-year anniversary with the team, a special moment. Dixon is now the eighth winner of the year, and the only active track where Dixon hadn’t led a lap – until today.

Hull made an excellent strategic decision to go with Firestone’s red alternate tires on the second-to-last stint. Following a restart after Takuma Sato spun at the Kink, Dixon then made a spectacular move to Newgarden’s outside going into Turn 1, and completing the move on exit. Newgarden had no counter as he was on Firestone’s blacks at that point.

Newgarden led home teammates Helio Castroneves, who fell to third from the pole, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power, as Penske ended second, third, fourth and fifth after sweeping the top four spots on the grid.

Charlie Kimball parlayed an off-sequence strategy to jump up to sixth, with Ed Jones, Graham Rahal, Max Chilton and Mikhail Aleshin completing the top 10.

Tony Kanaan had a heavy accident at the Kink but got out of his car, in the race’s one major incident.

More to follow…

Stroll rewarded with shoey after first F1 podium in Baku (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

Lance Stroll was “lost for words” after becoming the second-youngest Formula 1 podium finisher in Sunday’s chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix, crossing the line third for Williams.

Stroll qualified eighth in Baku before managing to rise up the order as a race of attrition set in at the front, with title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel both dropping back after coming to blows.

Stroll was left running second behind Daniel Ricciardo once Hamilton had pitted for repairs and Vettel had served his penalty, but had Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas bearing down through the closing stages.

In a drag race at the line, Bottas nosed ahead of Stroll by just 0.1 seconds to deny the Williams driver P2, but he was nevertheless able to hang on to third place.

Coming just two weeks after his maiden F1 points finish and following a barrage of criticism in the early part of the year, Stroll was overjoyed with the result.

“I’m just lost for words right now. I don’t even know what to say,” Stroll said.

“I can’t quite realize what just happened. It was a hectic race, people crashing and we stayed out of trouble, I kept my head cool and took it to the end.

“I lost out to Valtteri in the end. I reckon that was probably one of the closest finishes of all time! We were side-by-side across the finish line.

“What a race. I couldn’t believe coming into the weekend that I would be standing on the podium, it’s so amazing.”

Joining race winner and shoey extraordinaire Ricciardo on the podium, Stroll became the latest driver to take part in F1’s strangest tradition – albeit only after Ricciardo checked he was old enough.

Stroll completed the shoey like a champ, and was also informed that he had won the online Driver of the Day vote.

The result also saw Stroll became Canada’s first podium finisher since Jacques Villeneuve in 2001, as well as being the youngest ever rookie to finish in the top three.

Stroll missed out on the overall youngest podium record by 11 days to Max Verstappen, who won last year’s Spanish Grand Prix during his second season of racing in F1.

Ricciardo doubted Baku F1 win was possible, left ‘speechless’ on podium

Leave a comment

A stunned Daniel Ricciardo was left speechless on the podium after claiming his fifth Formula 1 victory in Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, navigating a crazy race that he started from 10th on the grid.

Ricciardo survived three safety car periods, two early pit stops and a red flag stoppage to rise through the order and capitalize on trouble for title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, with both dropping back down the order after dominating early on.

Ricciardo moved into the lead when Vettel was forced to serve a penalty for dangerous driving, and went unchallenged en route to victory in Baku from there, finishing 3.9 seconds clear of the pack.

Struggling to form his words initially, Ricciardo said he only thought a podium was within reach after the restart, only for the issues for the leaders to hand him the race win.

“We know there was a chance of the podium after the restart, but then we heard what happened with Lewis and Seb. It was just a crazy race,” Ricciardo said.

“I made an unplanned stop at the beginning. After a few laps we had some debris in the brakes, so we had to stop and clean it. We dropped to 17th place.

“So did I think then that we could win? Absolutely not. I would have put all my money on it that this was very unlikely.

“A crazy race. This is the race we expected last year, with all the safety cars and all the chaos, and we got it this year.”

Ricciardo’s victory came after he crashed out of qualifying on Saturday evening in Baku, resigning him to a P10 start, but was pleased to make up for it in style.

“Yesterday I was disappointed with the mistake. I knew today would be a different outcome,” Ricciardo said.

“I said it yesterday that we had to stay out of trouble and it certainly paid off today. A big thanks to the team, it was nice to get one car home and on the podium.

“I’m honestly speechless. After the race on the cool down lap, I was kind of just giggling like a school boy.”

WATCH LIVE: KOHLER Grand Prix at 12 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Photo: IndyCar
Leave a comment

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to Road America this weekend, with the now 55-lap KOHLER Grand Prix this afternoon.

You can watch it LIVE on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app starting at 11 a.m. CT and local time, noon ET.

Coverage has moved up half an hour from a planned 12:30 p.m. ET start time with the Formula 1 race from Azerbaijan running long.

This moves the Indy Lights second race of the weekend, which was scheduled for 11:30 a.m. ET, with Jake Query and Anders Krohn in the booth and Hargitt in pit lane.

Coverage will run through to 3:30 p.m. ET. INDYCAR: NEXT at the 101st Indianapolis 500 is scheduled from 3:30 to 4 p.m. ET.

Kevin Lee is on the call along with analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy, with Marty Snider, Jon Beekhuis, Katie Hargitt and Robin Miller in the pits.

Helio Castroneves secured the pole position for the race. The full qualifying report is linked here.