GRAND-AM gets back to work at Watkins Glen

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With the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the rear view mirror, the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series contingent has made its way to venerable Watkins Glen International for one of its longer races of the year.

Saturday morning rains brought an early end to qualifying for tomorrow’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, which serves as the second of the three-round North American Endurance Championship within the Rolex Series. The NAEC is made up of the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona, this weekend’s six-hour romp through the Glen, and the three-hour Brickyard Grand Prix on Friday, July 26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

As a result of the aforementioned rain, points leaders Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor – drivers of the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette Prototype – will start on the pole in the Daytona Prototype class as DP qualifying was scratched outright. However, the GT and GX classes were able to get their sessions in.

Robin Liddell put the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro on pole in GT with a time of 1 minute, 52.583 seconds around the 3.4-mile road course. He and teammate John Edwards had a three-race win streak in GT snapped at GRAND-AM’s most recent outing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course before the Le Mans break.

As for the GX side, Sylvain Tremblay secured pole there with a time of 1 minute, 58.478 seconds in the No. 70 Speedsource Mazda6.

This weekend’s race could prove to break the current logjam in both the DP and GT class standings. In DP, the Angelelli-Taylor combo heads into the Glen just one point ahead of Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty (No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette) and two points ahead of Ryan Dalziel and Alex Popow (No. 2 Starworks Ford/Riley). A note for open-wheel fans: The Dalziel-Popow duo will be joined by IndyCar’s Sebastien Bourdais this weekend in New York state.

The GT battle is just as tight with Magnus Racing’s Andy Lally and John Potter (No. 44 Porsche) up two markers over Alessandro Balzan in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia. The aforementioned Stevenson Motorsports team sits third at 11 points out, certainly within striking distance.

Reviewing Danica Patrick’s highs and lows at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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So much of Danica Patrick’s fame can be traced to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It’s where she became a household name 13 years ago when she became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 and emerged as a transcendent athlete.

It’s where everything started. This Sunday, it’s where everything will end, too.

In her last warmup before starting the final race of her career, Patrick had a bumpy final practice Friday on Carb Day. She was eighth fastest, but her Dallara-Chevrolet was in the garage most of the session because of an electrical problem in the engine. After returning during the final 10 minutes of the session, Patrick’s No. 13 seemed to be OK.

“At the end of the day, these are things you’re actually glad for, because if this had happened Sunday, we would have been done,” she said. “I’m glad to get the issues out of the way early on. Overall, today felt good. We made some changes when I went out the second time, and I’m feeling good about starting seventh on Sunday.”
Though she has had her share of success – along with a fourth in her debut, there was a third in 2009 and six top 10s in seven starts — Patrick has learned well how to handle frustration at the 2.5-mile track, too.

Fuel mileage might have kept her from winning her debut, a pit collision ruined 2008, and an unstable setup made 2010 a wild ride.

For a review of her up-and-down history at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and her legacy in racing, watch the video essay above that ran during Friday’s NASCAR America Motorsports Special on NBCSN.