Chevrolet’s huge Detroit home weekend highlights big weekend overall

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There’s no secret that when you come to the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix weekend at Belle Isle Park, that it is a huge weekend for General Motors.

Its headquarters are in the backdrop and most prominent throughout the weekend, and the detail-oriented effort the Penske-run event puts on is second to none.

Chevrolet then delivered on track in the two primary series it was competing in at Detroit in a big way:

  • Swept the two Verizon IndyCar Series races with Sebastien Bourdais (race one, KVSH Racing) and Will Power (race two, Team Penske) and secured four of the six podium positions with Bourdais, Power, Simon Pagenaud (second, race two) and Juan Pablo Montoya (third, race one). Pagenaud also scored both pole positions.
  • In the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, brothers Jordan Taylor and Ricky Taylor led a 1-2 finish for the Corvette Daytona Prototype in its home race at Belle Isle. The Wayne Taylor Racing duo won for the second time in three years in the Detroit Sports Car Challenge presented by Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers with their No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP. The No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP crew of Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa finished second, Fittipaldi having scored the pole.

Here’s your accompanying win quotes from Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. Vice President, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports:

“That was a great drive by Will, a strong race strategy by the team and the crew executed so well throughout the race,” he said after Power’s win on Sunday.

Prior to that, here’s what he said of Bourdais’ Saturday win: “Congratulations to Sebastien Bourdais and KVSH Racing for winning at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit for the second consecutive year. Teamwork was key. Sebastien drove a great race, Jimmy Vasser, Kevin Kalkhoven and the engineers made the right strategic calls, and the crew executed all race long. Sebastien’s win means a lot in Chevrolet’s hometown.”

And here’s what he said after the IMSA 1-2:  “This is an exciting day for Chevrolet and our Corvette Daytona Prototype programs. Congratulations to Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor and everyone on the Wayne Taylor Racing Konica Minolta Corvette DP team for today’s win. It was a great battle with the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP of Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi. Both teams had fast Corvette DPs, executed quick pit stops and were on top of race strategy.  This gives the Corvette DP teams a 5-0 record on Belle Isle, and today also earns Chevrolet the lead in the Prototype Engine Manufacturer Championship standings. It was great to have the support of so many Chevrolet and Corvette owners here at the track and following the racing action on TV.”

Then around the rest of the world, Chevrolet teams did pretty well, as well.

  • On Monday in Pocono, Kurt Busch won the rain-delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in his No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing.
  • Kyle Larson took the win in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Pocono in his No. 42 Cessna/NTT Data Group Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing.
  • Greg Anderson and KB Racing took the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock win at Epping, N.H.
  • Overseas, Corvette Racing led the test day for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in what figures to be a highly competitive GTE-Pro class. Antonio Garcia set a lap of 3:55.122 (129.680 mph) in the No. 63 Konica Minolta/Mobil 1/Sirius XM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R. Garcia, who celebrated a birthday Sunday and will team with Jan Magnussen and Ricky Taylor, led a Corvette Racing effort that focused on race setup and strategy as the team works toward what it hopes will be a ninth victory at the French endurance classic.

Also of note in Detroit, although it was a non-points race, Chevrolet teams did well in the Trans-Am Series too. RJ Lopez (Chevrolet Corvette) and Paul Fix (Corvette) went 1-2 in the first of two races on Saturday in the TA class, with Kyle Marcelli (Chevrolet Camaro) winning the TA2 class. On Sunday, Ernie Francis Jr. (Camaro) won the TA4 class.

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds