Bid to improve racing at 1.5-mile ovals continues for NASCAR

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Still searching for ways to improve the on-track product on intermediate ovals, NASCAR staged a second test session today at Charlotte Motor Speedway that featured a series of simulated races for different aero packages in addition to traditional single-car runs.

“One of the things that we learned and the reason we’re back here with so many cars is it is different when you have 30 cars or 25 cars out there versus the six,” NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said this morning.

“It was important for us to come back here with a field of cars that we did. It gave us a little bit different view on some of the answers. It’s put us in some different directions.”

Five different sets of configurations were tested in the aforementioned races. Race 1, with Configuration 1, was “won” by Kevin Harvick by almost five seconds, with Harvick posting a best lap of 194.868 mph.

But Race 2, with Configuration 2, had Kyle Larson take P1 by a much smaller margin of .844 of a second and with a slower quick lap of 191.755 mph. In Race 3 (Configuration 3), Harvick was quickest again at 192.692 mph and beat Larson by 3.8 seconds.

The final two races saw things slow down further. Race 4 (Configuration 4) featured Larson returning to the top with a quick lap of 190.921 mph and the closest margin of victory (.219 of a second over Harvick). Finally, Harvick paced Race 5 (Configuration 5) at 189.907 mph, beating Larson by 4.5 seconds.

It’ll be a lot of data to sift through for NASCAR but its vice president of innovation and racing development, Gene Stefanyshyn, said multiple types of feedback, objective and subjective, would be taken into consideration in regards to the final 2014 aero packages.

“We have to take all that, triangulate it, try to find the alliance and what makes sense,” Stefanyshyn said. “It’s just a matter of looking at it all. If the data says this, there’s somebody that says something totally different, we scratch our head, see what other people said. You kind of balance it all.

“It’s not a perfect science, but we try to take all those inputs and utilize them in the triangulation to find the right answer. You will never get 100% agreement on everything. So really, you’re kind of looking for the 70% answer here that kind of leads you in the right direction.”

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III