Formula DRIFT extends agreements with Long Beach, Evergreen Speedway and Road Atlanta

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We’re still in 2014, but the Formula DRIFT presented by GoPro series is already looking ahead to 2015 and 2016, extending contracts and event hosting through ’16 at Road Atlanta and Evergreen Speedway.

In addition, the series announced Thursday that it has extended its current deal with The Streets of Long Beach through 2015.

The announcement is especially poignant for Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington, which hosts the fifth event of the 2014 Formula DRIFT schedule this weekend: Throwdown at Evergreen Speedway on July 18 and 19.

It also marks the ninth year Evergreen Speedway has hosted the drift racing circuit.

“Evergreen Speedway is excited and proud to announce a three-year contract extension with Formula DRIFT through the 2016 season” Evergreen Speedway president/CEO Doug Hobbs said in a media release. “Formula DRIFT is by far, the most exciting and single largest motorsport event each and every year at Evergreen Speedway.

“Having such a marquee world stage series in the Seattle market is also a boost to tourism with a major economic impact. The best part for me is seeing thousands of fans smiling and having fun watching some of the most talented drivers in the world wow the crowd.”

As for Road Atlanta, the annual Formula Drift race there has grown by leaps and bounds, prompting track and series officials to extend the present deal so soon.

“The growth of Drift Atlanta over the past 11 years has been phenomenal,” Road Atlanta president/general manager Geoff Lee said. “We are pleased to extend our relationship with Formula DRIFT through 2016, and continue to build on the momentum that has made Drift Atlanta one of the largest and most renowned drifting events in North America.”

Based in Long Beach, Formula DRIFT is also working on extending working agreements with other existing tracks on its 2014 schedule.

“Eleven years ago we were the last on the list to get dates locked in for some of the venues,” Formula DRIFT president Jim Liaw said. “Now here we are 11 years later and are towards the top of the list for venues across the country.

“We are proud of the growth of the sport and it couldn’t have been done without the relationships that we have with these top venues and we look forward to continuing the relationships for years to come.”

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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 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


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