IndyCar: Post-Mid-Ohio news and notes roundup

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There’s been no shortage of items to discuss in the immediate aftermath of the Honda Indy 200 weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Here’s a quick roundup from what’s been making its way around the web:

  • The 2016 schedule is starting to come together. Broken out into a separate post here, the puzzle pieces are starting to align to produce elements of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule.
  • Mazda Road to Indy drivers get to test in IndyCar. It was kind of a “super secret, but not really” topic of discussion at Mid-Ohio, but it is cool news: several drivers from the Mazda Road to Indy will get to test in the Verizon IndyCar Series in the coming weeks at Sonoma Raceway. There is a rule in the INDYCAR Rulebook – Rule 6.2.3 – allowing for current Indy Lights drivers to test. The pairings mentioned on the CNBC broadcast included: Chip Ganassi Racing – Sean Rayhall, Team Penske – Spencer Pigot, Nelson Piquet Jr., Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing – Ed Jones, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports – Jack Harvey and Mikhail Aleshin. Schmidt and Andretti Autosport – Matthew Brabham.
  • Derrick Walker news kicks off “Silly Season.” Thursday’s semi-bombshell that INDYCAR president of competition and operations Derrick Walker (pictured) would be leaving the series at year’s end has a two-pronged effect. We have to ask what’s next for Derrick, and who’s next for the position in the series. Paddock rumors suggested Chip Ganassi Racing’s managing director Mike Hull as a frontrunner but Hull denied interest, telling USA Today Sports, “You would have to move heaven and earth for me to leave.”
  • Driver silly season. No movement yet although with our first story on Josef Newgarden’s future (posted Friday) from an on-site interview this weekend, it stands to reason he’s the domino that will fall. Movement could occur within the couple weeks before Pocono; if it doesn’t, the news cycle in September and October might get busy.
  • Oh yeah, the Mid-Ohio race itself. There were a number of good post-Mid-Ohio stories related to the race itself, who finished where and the like. With a near 12 hour drive home on Monday (had multiple stops including a quick trip to Columbus), we’ll have time to break those out over the coming days on MotorSportsTalk.

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