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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Scott McLaughlin will make IndyCar debut for Team Penske at St. Pete

Scott McLaughlin IndyCar debut
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Two-time defending Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin will make his NTT IndyCar Series debut with Team Penske in the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

McLaughlin, 27, drove for Penske in preseason IndyCar testing at Circuit of the Americas, Sebring International Raceway (in a rookie evaluation) and Texas Motor Speedway, and he was announced Feb. 5 as making his debut with the team at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course before the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic delayed the start of the season.

Travel restrictions also made it difficult for the New Zealand native to leave Australia, where he leads the points for DJR Team Penske in the Virgin Australia Supercars series with three races remaining. He set a Supercars record last season with 18 victories.

The Supercars season will conclude Oct. 18 with the prestigious 24 Hours of Bathurst. McLaughlin then will head directly to the States to drive the No. 3 Dallara-Chevrolet at St. Pete as a teammate of Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud.

“This is something I haven’t stopped thinking about, but I wanted to ensure my focus was on winning our third-straight Supercars championship for DJR Team Penske and all our partners in Australia,” McLaughlin, who also has won at Barber and Indianapolis while unofficially finishing first in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge, said in a release. “We are still laser-focused on that and have three more rounds to get it done, but I’m equally as excited to finally get the chance and make my IndyCar debut.”

McLaughlin, whose wife, Karly, is from New York, said he has discussed racing in America with car owner Roger Penske since he was hired by the team for the 2017 season.

“I’ve always said I’d love to have a crack at something else,” McLaughlin told reporters in February during the preseason test at Austin, Texas. “My goal was always to win the championship in Bathurst and Australia. I ticked those boxes, and then opportunities arise over time. The conversation between me and Roger was pretty short. ‘Would you be interested in IndyCar?’ I’d literally drive a wheelbarrow with a Team Penske sticker on it. I’d race anything that comes with the opportunity.

“I’ve always intended I’d love to get America one day potentially if I’ve done my goals in Australia. I’ve always said whether it’s now or 30 years down the track, I’d love to finish up (in America). I’ve promised Karly that we would come back here eventually. She’s not pushing me by any means, but I’ve always had a passion for American motorsport and certainly would love the opportunity.”

McLaughlin also has indicated a desire to try racing in NASCAR for Team Penske. He discussed his comfort with stock cars during a 2017 episode of the NASCAR on NBC Podcast (click on the link below to hear it).

Here’s the release from Team Penske:

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (September 17, 2020) – Team Penske announced today that Scott McLaughlin, the current Virgin Australia Supercars Championship points leader, is scheduled to make his long-awaited NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut in the series’ 2020 season finale on the Streets of St. Petersburg on Sunday, October 25.

The two-time and defending Supercars Champion for DJR Team Penske (DJRTP) was set to compete in his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES race earlier this year on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course before the COVID-19 global pandemic forced several delays and postponements on racing schedules, along with international travel restrictions. Before the pandemic shutdown, McLaughlin participated in the INDYCAR SERIES preseason open test at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, where he ran consistently well and posted the third-fastest time of the test session. The 27-year-old native of New Zealand also competed in separate tests at the Sebring International Raceway road course and the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval.

“This is something I haven’t stopped thinking about, but I wanted to ensure my focus was on winning our third-straight Supercars championship for DJR Team Penske and all our partners in Australia,” said McLaughlin. “We are still laser-focused on that and have three more rounds to get it done, but I’m equally as excited to finally get the chance and make my INDYCAR debut. I’ve been doing everything I can to keep up with the series this year, from watching as many races as I can on TV to even talking to the drivers and some of the engineers back at the Team Penske shop. I never knew if I would be able to get behind the wheel of one of these cars this year due to all the COVID-19 restrictions, but I wanted to be ready if it became an opportunity.”

McLaughlin currently leads the Supercars point standings with just three rounds of competition remaining on the 2020 schedule. McLaughlin has produced a series-best 10 wins and 10 poles and holds a 143-point lead over Jamie Whincup entering this weekend’s race at The Bend. Over the course of his Supercars career, McLaughlin has won an impressive 53 races and 71 poles, while helping DJRTP claim team championships in 2017 and 2019 and winning the driver’s title in each of the last two seasons. He also earned his first win in the legendary Bathurst 1000 race in 2019 with co-driver Alex Premat. Though he is in just his fourth season competing for Team Penske, McLaughlin already ranks third on the organization’s all-time wins list, trailing only Brad Keselowski and Mark Donohue.

Earlier this year, McLaughlin made his “virtual” INDYCAR debut, competing in the series’ iRacing Challenge and winning two races among the full field of current NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers that were competing against each other while traditional racing was put on hold.

“Our plan has always been for Scott to run a race in the INDYCAR SERIES this season, but we never wanted to take the focus away from the main goal, which is winning another Supercars Championship,” said Team Penske President Tim Cindric. “COVID-19 certainly altered those plans early on, but with the way the schedules have lined up at the end of this season, St. Pete became an available option and we remain committed to getting him some INDYCAR seat time. We know Scott is ready for this challenge and this should add even more excitement to the 2020 season finale in St. Petersburg.”

McLaughlin will pilot the No. 3 Shell V-Power Nitro+ Dallara/Chevrolet at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which was postponed from its original date in March and will now take place on Sunday, October 25. The race on the 1.8-mile street circuit will be seen live at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, with radio coverage on the Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network and SIRIUS XM.