Canada Corner (Tony DiZinno)

Lee Alexander’s 1:59 lap leads SCCA Runoffs Day 1 Qualifying

Leave a comment

The first day of qualifying is in the books at the 50th running of the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Elkhart Lake’s Road America. Some news and notes regarding the day’s fastest qualifiers, which included track records set in 11 classes:

  • Lee Alexander set a 1:59.638 in the C Sports Racer class, fastest time on the day and the second driver into the sub-2-minute range at the SCCA Runoffs in Road America history. The CSR and DSR classes were the first session of the day on a cool, fast track. Scott Tucker, who is not racing at this year’s Runoffs, set the record lap of 1:58.997 in a West WX10/ST10 D Sports Racer entry a year ago.
  • The two heaviest populated classes, Spec Miata (70 cars entered) and Spec Racer Ford (54) ran solo qualifying sessions. The rest of the 28 classes ran in combined group sessions.
  • SM saw no less than 15 cars break the old track record, with Jim Drago fastest of them at a 2:41.862. Brian Schofield led the way in SRF at 2:37.974.
  • Two drivers, Andrew Aquilante and Lawrence Loshak, set the fastest time in more than one class. Aquilante accomplished the feat in T1 and GT2, with Loshak doing likewise in FB and HP.
  • Peter Portante, who races full-time in the USF2000 National Championship on IndyCar’s Mazda Road to Indy ladder, led the Formula Continental (FC) field at 2:11.394 driving for the local ArmsUp Motorsports team, based in nearby Sheboygan Falls.
  • Nearly one minute separates the fastest time of the day – Alexander’s sub-2-minute flier – and the slowest fast time coming from B-Spec, Joel Weinberger at 2:54.936.
  • Ironic fastest qualifier of the day award? That would be your American Sedan pace-setter, Tom Sloe. I’ll be here all night.
Classes, Fastest Tuesday qualifier and time
CSR/DSR:  CSR, Lee Alexander, 1:59.638.    DSR, Chris Farrell, 2:01.662.
SM:       SM, Jim Drago, 2:41.862. 
GT1/T1:   GT1, Cliff Ebben, 2:03.917.      T1, Andrew Aquilante, 2:14.673.
FA/FB:    FA, Sedat Yelkin, 2:03.089.      FB, Lawrence Loshak, 2:04.786.
FP/HP:    FP, Mark Carpenter, 2:33.193.    HP, Lawrence Loshak, 2:41.750.
GT2/GT3:  GT2, Andrew Aquilante, 2:14.320. GT3, Mike Henderson, 2:23.405.
F500/FV:  F500, James Weida, 2:21.517.     FV, Michael Varacins, 2:41.293.
STU/STL:  STU, Marc Hoover, 2:24.693.      STL, Rob Huffmaster, 2:32.995.
T2/AS:    T2, Kurt Rezzetano, 2:24.619.    AS, Tom Sloe, 2:26.570.
FC/FF:    FC, Peter Portante, 2:11.395.    FF, Tim Kautz, 2:21.221.
EP/GTL:   EP, Aaron Downey, 2:29.795.      GTL, Robert Lentz, 2:33.281.
FE/FM/S2: FE, Scott Rettich, 2:13.403.     FM, Doug Peterson, 2:16.042. 
          S2, Mark Mercer, 2:18.276.
SRF:      SRF, Brian Schofield, 2:37.974. 
T3/T4/    T3, Chad Gilsinger, 2:31.631.    T4, Michael Scornavacchi, 2:40.493.
B-SPEC:   B-SPEC, Joel Weinberger, 2:54.936.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
Leave a comment

As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”