IMSA: Roar Before the 24 Friday results

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship kicked off its 2018 season on Friday with Day 1 of the annual Roar Before the 24 test. With all 50 cars entered at the Rolex 24 present, there was no shortage of cars on track in either of the Friday sessions, and every car ventured out on track in at least one of the sessions.

Below is a roundup of highlights from Day 1

ACTION EXPRESS, CADILLAC TOP THE TIME SHEETS

Action Express Racing put their Cadillac DPi-V.R atop the timesheets for the day, with Filipe Albuquerque going fastest in both the morning and afternoon sessions.

In fact, the morning session saw Cadillacs take the top four spots, a continuation of what was a dominant 2017 season for the marque.

CORE Autosport broke up the Cadillac party in the afternoon, turning the second quickest lap of the day. Wayne Taylor Racing and Spirit of Daytona Racing ended up third and fourth in the combined results, with Jackie Chan DCR JOTA putting its No. 78 Oreca 07 Gibson fifth.

Of note: Fernando Alonso turned laps in his No. 23 United Autosports Ligier LMP2 Gibson, kicking off his first official foray into sports car racing.

Also of note in the Prototype class: the Acura Team Penske ARX-05s were 12th and 15th at the end of the day, and the revamped Mazda RT24-P entries from Mazda Team Joest both made it out on track, though the No. 70 entry only did two laps late in the evening session.

PORSCHE LEAD OPENING DAY FOR GTLM

Porsche GT Team put a 911 RSR at the head of the GTLM field on Friday, with Laurens Vanthoor going fastest in the No. 912 entry. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 67 machine was second, thought it did lead the morning session, while the No. 911 Porsche ended the day third, putting both Porsches in the top three at the end of the day.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 66 entry was fourth, with the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE fifth.

Both of the Corvette C7.Rs from Corvette Racing were outside of the top five at the end of the day, sixth and seventh respectively in the GTLM class, while the new BMW M8 GTLM entries from BMW Team RLL brought up the rear of the GTLM field.

LAMBORGHINI TOP GT DAYTONA

A Lamborghini Huracan GT3 topped a deep GT Daytona at the end of Friday, with GRT Grasser Racing Team’s Rolf Ineichen leading the way in the morning and co-driver Franck Perera doing the same in the afternoon in the No. 11 entry.

The Manthey-Racing No. 59 Porsche 911 GT3 R was second, followed by the sister GRT No. 19 entry. Montaplast by Land-Motorsport ended up the day fourth in their Audi R8 LMS GT3, with Magnus Racing rounding out the top five in their first official outing on their return to IMSA competition.

All three classes saw relatively clean running, with no contact during either session and only four brief stoppages, all resulting from minor issues.

SCOTT PRUETT ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT

Maybe the biggest story to emerge on Friday was Scott Pruett revealing that the 2018 Rolex 24 will be the final race of his career, with the veteran of IMSA, INDYCAR, and NASCAR announcing he will retire following the 24-hour endurance race.

The 58-year old Pruett has been racing in some capacity for 50 years, and has amassed a total of 88 wins across a number of series.

But, Pruett will likely be most remembered for his sports car endeavors, as one of the most decorated American sports car racers who has ever lived. Pruett’s sports car resume includes a record 60 wins, five Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series titles, and a record-tying five overall victories at the Rolex 24. He also has a class win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“Daytona is a magical place for me and I love it,” Pruett said regarding the timing of his announcement. “I’ve always said the Rolex 24 at Daytona is like the Super Bowl of Motorsports because you’re bringing the best of the best from all over the world and the challenge of both man and machine is fierce. What better way to say goodbye to the sport I love than at this revered place, surrounded by my respected peers and die-hard fans.”

Pruett’s final race will be contested in a Lexus RCF GT3 with 3GT Racing.

The Roar Before the 24 continues on Saturday with three test sessions, the first beginning at 10:50 a.m. EST. Results from Friday’s sessions are below.

Practice 1
Practice 2
Combined Results


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Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
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More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”