Photo courtesy of IMSA

Taylors hit the high-five in Detroit; Acura breaks through in GTD

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DETROIT – Not even an accident in qualifying and further Balance of Performance adjustments could stop the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R in the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.

Ricky Taylor and Jordan Taylor parlayed a mix of great driving and great strategy to secure their fifth straight win in as many races in Prototype and overall, an incredible effort by the drivers and the Wayne Taylor Racing team.

Meanwhile the Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 team broke through for its first win yet in GT Daytona, courtesy of an excellent drive from both Andy Lally and Katherine Legge in the No. 93 car, while Performance Tech Motorsports continued its own streak in Prototype Challenge with its fourth win in as many races in that class, courtesy of James French and Pato O’Ward in the No. 38 Oreca FLM09.

Ricky Taylor had the fastest time in qualifying on Friday afternoon for the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic race, but crashed out at Turn 4. IMSA set the grid in Prototype by points and although the No. 10 car was the points leader, it was sent to the back of the combined Prototype and Prototype Challenge entries for causing the red flag.

It mattered not. The older Taylor brother made it up to seventh on the grid from 12th place on the opening lap, and was up to fifth before pit stops.

Past half distance and after the first and only full course caution of the race, now with Jordan Taylor in the car, the No. 10 car was fourth behind the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac of Dane Cameron and Eric Curran, the No. 70 Mazda RT24-P of Joel Miller and Tom Long, and the polesitting No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac of Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi.

With 48 minutes to go, the No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi set in motion the final round of pit stops to get to the checkered flag. Others followed, with the Nos. 5, 55, 85 and 10 cars all pitting within the next seven minutes. While the No. 2 car took another set of Continental tires, the rest took fuel only.

What was imperative to watch was whether the gap would be enough for the No. 31 car to pit with enough of a gap to get Cameron in for a final splash and sustain the lead.

Taylor gained five seconds in four laps from Lap 37 to 41 and got as close as 26.501 seconds but lost time in traffic.

Cameron, however, did not bank enough of a gap to pit and keep the lead. It was a 29.066 second gap over Taylor but that wasn’t enough, and Taylor swept through to the lead once Cameron pitted on Lap 49.

Cameron was second in the No. 31 car with Miller and Long able to finally score a podium in the No. 70 Mazda. This is the third straight street race the Mazda has been on the podium, starting with Detroit last year and Long Beach again this year.

The Prototype battle behind them for the final positions got a bit nuts within the final 15 minutes. When trying to pass Barbosa for fourth, Stephen Simpson spun at Turn 1 in the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson and Tristan Nunez took crazy evasive, drifting action to avoid them in the No. 55 Mazda.

With less than 10 minutes to go, the No. 2 Nissan went behind the wall, which made for a similarly frustrating late race end as occurred at Circuit of The Americas.

The GTD lead was shifted entirely on the first and only full-course caution, caused with two separate incidents just shy of the 30-minute mark. Ben Keating, in the No. 33 Riley Motorsports-Team AMG Mercedes AMG-GT3, impacted the Turn 8 wall on the exit and caused significant right front damage. Meanwhile, at Turn 3, an apparent brake failure shot Kenny Habul’s No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 across the road and into a hapless Renger van der Zande, the Dutchman in the No. 90 VISIT FLORIDA Racing Riley Mk. 30 Gibson with absolutely nowhere to go except into the tire barriers.

Lawson Aschenbach had led from the pole from the off in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS, with one of the BAR1 Motorsports PC cars acting as a buffer to the rest of the GTD field.

At the pit stop, the No. 57 Audi led the No. 93 Acura, No. 48 Lamborghini, No. 28 Porsche and No. 16 Lamborghini.

After the pit stops, the No. 93 Acura moved ahead of the No. 28 Porsche, No. 63 Ferrari, No. 57 Audi and No. 48 Lamborghini.

The No. 16 Lamborghini and No. 28 Porsche both received penalties which knocked them back, and later issues hit both the No. 57 Audi and No. 50 Mercedes-AMG.

It left the No. 93 Acura clear of the No. 63 Ferrari of Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan at the finish.

Shank’s team was poised for a double podium, but with five minutes remaining, Jeff Segal ran wide at Turn 7 and lost third place, with Madison Snow (sharing with Bryan Sellers) in the No. 48 Lamborghini and Jens Klingmann (sharing with Bret Curtis) in the No. 96 BMW slipping through. It was a bittersweet end to that race after Segal and Ozz Negri drove the rebuilt car.

PC was uneventful from the off, Performance Tech Motorsports leading flag-to-flag for its fourth win in as many races ahead of the pair of BAR1 Motorsports entries. French and O’Ward now have wins at 24-hour, 12-hour, two-hour, 40-minute and 100-minute race distances.

Supercross points leader Eli Tomac finds silver linings in interruption

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Though his Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship charge was put on hold, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a silver lining for Eli Tomac.

Off the road while the season was postponed for nearly three months, the points leader was able to be present as his girlfriend, Jessica, gave birth to their daughter, Lev, on April 26

“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.

NBCSN

“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”

But there also could be more good fortune for Tomac as the series resumes Sunday at Salt Lake City, Utah (3-4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 4-6 p.m. on NBC).

The final seven events will be held over 22 days in Rice-Eccles Stadium, which sits at just over 4,000 feet.

The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).

COVID-19 TESTING REQUIRED: Supercross outlines protocols for last seven races

“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.

“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”

Supercross will race Sunday and Wednesday for the next three weeks, capping the season with the June 21 finale, which also will be shown on NBCSN from 3-4:30 p.m. ET and NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

Tomac, who holds a three-point lead over Ken Roczen (who also recently visited “Lunch Talk Live”), told Tirico he had been riding for 90 minutes Thursday morning on a track outside Salt Lake City.

“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”

Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
Eli Tomac rides his No. 3 Kawasaki in the Feb. 29 race at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).