IMSA

IMSA: Alon, JDC-Miller score upset pole at Road America; Ford, Porsche to lead GT fields

Leave a comment

The recent trend of upsets in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship continued during Saturday qualifying for the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America, with Robert Alon putting JDC-Miller Motorsports on the pole.

Alon, piloting the No. 85 Oreca 07 Gibson, turned a quick lap of 1:51.933, the only driver in the Prototype class to dip below the 1:52 mark.

Alon deferred credit for the result to the No. 85 JDC-Miller team afterward.

“I have to give it to the engineer,” he explained.“He called it. We knew tire ‘deg’ (degradation) was going to be pretty bad, so we kind of set up the car for the first couple of laps. We knew those were going to be the best tires, grip-wise. He told me to go out and do my thing for the first two laps and it seemed like the car just did the work. It was a great setup.”

Alon beat out Acura Team Penske’s Ricky Taylor, in the No. 7 ARX-05, by just over two tenths of a second – Taylor’s best lap was a 1:52.140. And Colin Braun continued a strong summer stretch for CORE autosport, qualifying the No. 54 Oreca in third.

Of note: the championship leading Action Express duo struggled somewhat, with Joao Barbosa qualifying the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in seventh – that entry sits second in the standings with driver Filipe Albuquerque – while the points-leading No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac ended up ninth in the hands of Eric Curran.

In GT Le Mans, Dirk Mueller took his third consecutive pole at Road America, turning a quick lap of 2:02.479 in his No. 66 Ford GT for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing.

Dirk Mulller took his third consecutive pole at Road America. Photo courtesy of IMSA

“Having the three in a row here feels really great and I’m really thrilled and happy,” said Mueller. “Maybe it’s because I’m German and I do like the Nordschleife (in Nurburg, Germany), that’s definitely one of my favorite places in the world. Over here, it’s definitely Road America and there’s a lot of corners and places where it looks the same.”

Teammate Ryan Briscoe put the sister No. 67 Ford right behind him in second, giving Ganassi a front row lockout in GTLM. Antonio Garcia qualified third in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R for Corvette Racing.

In GT Daytona, Patrick Long gave Wright Motorsports its first pole of the season with a quick lap of 2:06.593 in the the No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3. Long’s lap was almost three tenths of a second quicker than anyone in the GTD category.

Patrick Long gave Wright Motorsports its first IMSA pole. Photo courtesy of IMSA

“The key was getting our lap in early,” said Long. “We didn’t plan on the probability of yellow or red in qualifying. But because of the increased heat since this morning’s Practice 3, we had pressured up and thought to maximize the peak of the tire. It was going to be a short run, so that played into our hands.”

Dominik Baumann qualified second in the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 for 3GT Racing, followed by the GTD championship leading No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 from Paul Miller Racing – Madison Snow put the No. 48 entry third on the grid.

However, Snow and Cooper MacNeil, driving the No. 63 Ferrari 488 GT3 for Scuderia Corsa, caused some controversy for failing to stop in their pit stalls during a red flag.

Francesco Piovanetti, piloting the No. 51 Ferrari 488 GT3 for Squadra Corse Garage Italia, spun off in Canada Corner, causing the red flag. The field is required to return to their pit stalls when a red flag is flown, but Snow and MacNeil pulled up to pit out rather than stopping in their stalls. Both were assessed drive-through penalties, but Snow did not come in.

Results can be found here. Sunday’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase begins at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Follow@KyleMLavigne

Hunter McElrea wins Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 Scholarship

IndyCar.com
Leave a comment

Hunter McElrea bested 18 competitors to win the third annual Road to Indy USF2000 $200,000 Scholarship Shootout on Sunday at Bondurant Racing School in Chandler, Ariz.

The two-day contest featured on-track competition in Formula Mazda cars as well as interview sessions and assessment from a panel of judges.

“I can’t believe it,” McElrea said at IndyCar.com. “This is definitely the most exciting opportunity that I have had in my racing career. I cannot thank Mazda and everyone enough for making this possible for me. The fact that I am going to be on the grid next year thanks to them is a dream come true.

“They have given me the opportunity to prove myself in such a high level that I never even thought I would be able to reach. I have to thank Andersen Promotions, Cooper tires, all of the judges, everyone from Mazda, the Bondurant Racing School and the other competitors, who literally pushed me to the limit.

“I am just so happy. It is still sinking in, but I just can’t wait to get next year started, and I’ll be representing Mazda in that nice Soul Red USF2000 car.”

MORE: Michael Carter wins Mazda Road to 24 shootout

The 19-year-old McElrea was born in California, but reared in Australia.

As a result of winning the award, McElrea will compete in the 2019 season of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, the first rung of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder.

McElrea won the Australian Formula Ford Championship this year on the strength of 13 victories in 21 races.

Early competition resulted in a final field of six drivers that included Jake Craig, Michael Eastwell, Braden Eves, Flinn Lazier and Ross Martin. They competed in a qualification session and 30-minute simulated race. McElrea won that race.

“Today was an incredible day,” said Tom Long, Mazda Motorsports factory driver and one of the judges. “There was so much talent here for the shootout. Hunter McElrea just rose to the top when it was time to shine, but our decision was very, very difficult.

“In the end, given all of the circumstances, we were able to make a pretty good decision and we are really, really proud of not only Hunter but our whole team here with Mazda to be able to grant this $200,000 scholarship for his opportunity in USF2000 next year.”