Photo courtesy of IMSA

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

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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.

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.