MRTI: Keane set for full USF2000 campaign with Newman Wachs

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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After a partial Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season that began at Road America with Newman Wachs Racing, Darren Keane will step up to a full-time role next year with the team. It marks the official kickoff to the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires driver signings for the 2018 season.

Keane still ended 11th in points despite missing three of the 14 races. He raced nine of his 11 starts with Newman Wachs after debuting with Team BENIK at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

His best finish was fourth in Toronto and he also topped the times just recently with NWR at the Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Test at IMS.

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

“We had the pleasure of running Darren last year in his rookie season and we’re thrilled to have him back with us for 2018,” offered Brian Halahan, NWR Team Manager.

“I’m stoked with the speed he showed at the Chris Griffis test at Indianapolis and I’m extremely impressive with his development. He’s matured so much over the last few months and I’m pleased that we’ll be able to continue on the path that we started on last year. I’m very exciting for next season.”

The karting graduate has excelled mightily under the coaching tutelage of Ozz Negri.

“I’m really happy to be signing with NWR,” Keane said. “They’re a great group of guys and we have improved so much as a team over the last season. I’m really pleased to have a plan put together this early, because it gives us all the time we need to prepare for a championship next season. I think we’re going to have a great year and I’m looking forward to coming back to USF2000. Last year’s purpose was to learn as much as I could, and now I’m ready to use that knowledge to get results this season.”

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