Photo courtesy of IMSA

Braun, CORE take second consecutive IMSA pole at CTMP; Porsche, Lexus lead GT fields

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CORE autosport rose to the occasion for the second week in a row to take pole for Sunday’s Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix from Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Colin Braun piloted the No. 54 Oreca 07 Gibson to a quick time of 1:06.315, bettering Acura Team Penske’s Dane Cameron by over two tenths of a second – Cameron’s best lap was a 1:06.540 in the No. 6 Acura ARX-05 – to give CORE its second consecutive pole. In doing so, Braun utterly destroyed the previous track record (a 1:08.459 from Ricky Taylor, set last year) by over two seconds.

An elated Braun credited CORE for their recent run of success.

Colin Braun gave CORE autosport its second consecutive pole in the 2018 IMSA season. Photo courtesy of IMSA

“It’s a testament to these CORE autosport guys,” Braun explain. “The ORECA is really fast and we were fast at The Glen. This car is just a blast to drive. I love it around here. It’s probably my favorite racetrack. It’s definitely a place I enjoy coming.”

Robert Alon qualified an impressive third in JDC-Miller Motosports’ No. 85 Oreca, while Renger Van Der Zande (No. 10 Cadillac DPi-V.R for Wayne Taylor Racing) and Jonathan Bomarito (No. 55 Mazda RT24-P for Mazda Team Joest) filled out the top five.

Of note: Helio Castroneves, who crashed heavily during Friday’s second practice, qualified sixth in the sister No. 7 Acura for Penske, while Tequila Patron ESM qualified the No. 22 Nissan Onroak DPi in eighth (Pipo Derani and Ryan Dalziel share the lone entry from ESM this weekend, as the team ran short of spare engines following three separate engine failures during the weekend of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen).

In GT Le Mans (GTLM), Nick Tandy put Porsche GT Team on the pole with a quick time of 1:13.517 in his No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR. Tandy beat out Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ryan Briscoe by over three tenths of a second – Briscoe’s best lap was a 1:13.831 in the No. 67 Ford GT.

Nick Tandy put Porsche P1 on the GTLM grid at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Photo courtesy of IMSA

While pleased with the pole, Tandy kept his enthusiasm muted, highlighting that the race will be a much bigger challenge, especially in hot conditions they’re expected to see on Sunday.

“I mean, qualifying is one thing. It’s going to be hot this weekend. It’s good we can bring our tires up to temperature and the Porsche is obviously really good on this track. We showed that last year. But the race is obviously not one lap long, so we’ll see what the pace is going to be on the long run,” Tandy detailed.

Jan Magnussen qualified third in No. 3 Corvette C7.R for Corvette Racing. Laurens Vanthoor (No. 912 Porsche) and Oliver Gavin (No. 4 Corvette) rounded out the top five.

In GT Daytona (GTD), 3GT Racing enjoyed a banner day with their Lexus RCF GT3 entries, with Jack Hawksworth (No. 15 Lexus) and Dominik Baumann (No. 14) qualifying 1-2. Hawkworth turned in a best lap of 1:15.581, roughly half a second quicker than Baumann, whose quick lap was 1:15.581.

Jack Hawksworth led a 3GT Racing 1-2 for Lexus in qualifying at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Photo courtesy of IMSA

Hawksworth revealed that the high-speed nature of the track fits the Lexus platform form well, which helped them to a 1-2 in qualifying.

“We knew this would be a track that really suited us,” said Hawksworth. “It’s almost designed for our car, this type of track. We knew we were going to be strong. I’m really happy with how well we’ve been performing this whole week. We’ve been fast since the moment we came off the truck.”

Bryan Sellers qualified third in the No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 for Paul Miller Racing, the current GTD championship leaders. Ben Keating (No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 for Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports) and Michael Schein (No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R for Wright Motorsports) rounded out the top five.

Results can be found here. Sunday’s Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix rolls off at 1:55 p.m. ET, but will be televised at 4:00 p.m. ET

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Tony Kanaan’s “New Reality” in IndyCar

Photo by Stephen King, INDYCAR
Stephen King, INDYCAR
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AUSTIN, Texas – Tony Kanaan is one of the most popular drivers in the NTT IndyCar Series from the fans who love his aggressive racing style and his fearless attitude. His team owner is the most popular man in the history of Indianapolis 500 – the legendary AJ Foyt, the first driver to win the famed race four times in his career.

In 2019, this combination would rather win races than popularity contests.

Kanaan has won 17 races in his career but hasn’t been to Victory Lane since a win at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California when he was driving for Chip Ganassi Racing in 2014. He left Ganassi’s team following the 2017 and joined Foyt’s operation last season.

Foyt always admired Kanaan’s attitude and racing style because it reminded him of his own attitude behind the wheel of a race car. But in 2018, the combination struggled. Kanaan led just 20 laps for the season and finished 16thin the IndyCar Series points race.

“A lot of work has been done because obviously, we struggled quite a bit last year,” Kanaan admitted. “That was the challenge when I signed with AJ was to try to make this team better. It is not an easy task, especially with the competition nowadays.

“It’s a lot slower process than I thought it would be.”

Kanaan believes the biggest keys for him is to “keep digging and be patient.” But he’s also in a results-driven business.

The driver called it a long winter, but he has helped lure some of his racing friends to the team to help improve the two-car operation that also includes young Brazilian Matheus Leist.

At 84, Foyt still has control over the operation, but has turned the day-to-day duties over to his son, Larry. Just last week, the team hired Scott Harner as the team’s vice president of operations. Harner was in charge of Kanaan’s car when both were at Chip Ganassi Racing.

“The second year, we are trying to be better,” Kanaan said. “It’s not an excuse, it’s the reality we have. There are a lot of new teams coming along so we have to step up. Otherwise, we aren’t fighting the Big 3 teams, we are fighting everybody.

“We are working on it. I like the way we are heading. AJ has been extremely open to my ideas.”

Kanaan has moved his family from Miami to Indianapolis to be near the race team’s shop. The team also has another race shop in Waller, Texas and that is where Leist’s car is prepared.

Although Kanaan doesn’t believe it’s ideal to have two different racing facilities, he believes being closer to his team will help build a more cohesive unit for this season.

At one time, Kanaan would show up at the track with a car that could win the race. No longer in that situation, he has had to readjust his goals.

“The biggest challenge is to accept that and understand your limits on equipment and on the people that you have,” Kanaan said. “Being on some of the teams that I’ve been on in the past, with four-car teams and engineers and all the resources you can get and the budget; then to come to a team with limited resources, I have to self-check all the time. With that, comes a lot of pressure as well and block out people’s opinions like, ‘Oh, he’s old or he’s washed up or the team is not good.’

“You need to shield that from your guys, because psychologically, that gets to you. You need people to work well, even if you have a car that is going to finish 15th.

“What is our reality? Racing can be lucky, but we try to make goals. We are greedy, we try to improve, but we are trying to be realistic. I have to re-set and understand this is my reality now, and I have to accept it.”

At 44, Kanaan is the oldest driver in the IndyCar. The 2004 IndyCar Series champion won the Indianapolis 500 in 2013 and if his career ended this year, it would be one of the greatest of his era.

But Kanaan isn’t ready to call it an “era.” He has more he wants to accomplish.

“The mistake I have made in my career is counting your days,” Kanaan said. “The best line I ever heard is when I signed with AJ, he told me he drove until he was 58, so why am I talking about getting old?

“In his mind, I still have 14 years to go.”

There remains one race, more than any other, that Kanaan’s boss wants to win. It’s the one that made Foyt famous.

“For my boss, winning the Indianapolis 500 is all he cares,” Kanaan said. “I could not finish a single race this year and if I win the Indy 500, that would be enough for him.

“We are not in a position to win a championship and I accept that. So, we focus on the Indianapolis 500. We had an awesome car last year and were the fastest on the second day.”

Foyt and Kanaan believe success at Indy may be in the numbers.

“AJ is all about numbers and his number was 14,” Kanaan said. “He found out Dallara was making chassis No. 14 at the end of the year. AJ bought that chassis and said that is the one we are going to race at the Indy 500. I’m not allowed to drive that car until Opening Day at the Indianapolis 500.

“That’s how big the boss is about the Indy 500.”