Wayne Taylor Racing Acura on pole in IMSA starting lineup for Six Hours of Watkins Glen

IMSA Watkins Glen starting lineup
IMSA
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IMSA starting lineup: Wayne Taylor Racing will start from the IMSA pole position at Watkins Glen International after Ricky Taylor qualified first in the No. 10 Acura with a 1-minute, 30.022-second lap.

Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque, who are teamed with IndyCar star Alexander Rossi for this Michelin Endurance Cup race, are leading the points standings after victories in two of the first four races this season.

“The Acura is a fantastic car here at Watkins Glen,” Taylor said. “Coming here, we knew we’d be strong and we were really looking forward to it.  This chassis and engine package was really designed to perform best at European-style tracks:  really fast, flowing, and smooth circuits.  So when we come to Watkins Glen, we know we can run the car low [to the ground] and take advantage of the horsepower and aero platform the Acura provides. For sure, I wouldn’t want to be in any other car here. It’s a dream to drive.”

The Meyer Shank Racing Acura made it a sweep of the top two in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen qualifying for Acura as Dane Cameron (who is teamed with Olivier Pla) turned a lap of 1:30.141.

SIX HOURS OF THE GLEN: Details for Sunday’s race

“I think I made a couple of small mistakes on the quick lap and I think that made a difference, so I am a little disappointed on that,” Cameron said. “But overall, we’ve had a good competitive weekend so far [leading both practice sessions prior to qualifying] and we’ve got a good car. Six hours is a long time, and I think there will be some different weather conditions to come so we will see how we get along on Sunday.”

Renger van der Zande qualified third in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac that he shares with Kevin Magnussen.

Kamui Kobayashi was fourth fastest in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac with teammates Simon Pagenaud and Jimmie Johnson (joined this weekend by former NASCAR Cup Series crew chief Chad Knaus and a contingent of Hendrick Motorsports team members).

The rest of the DPi division: Pipo Derani, No. 31 Action Express Cadillac (1:30.824), Oliver Jarvis, No. 55 Mazda (1:31.075), Tristan Vautier No. 5 Mustang-Sampling Cadillac (1:31.324).

SPORTY EXPERIENCE: Chad Knaus loves his taste of IMSA

Sunday’s race will begin at 10:40 a.m. ET and will be televised on the NBC Sports App, NBCSports.com and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. There will be a replay at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Here were the top qualifiers in other classes:

–LMP2: Steve Thomas, Tristan Nunez, Thomas Merrill, No. 11 WIN Autosport

–GTLM: Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor, No. 3 Corvette Racing C8.R

–GTD: Kyle Kirkwood, Jack Hawksworth, Aaron Telitz, No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3

–LMP3:  Austin McCusker, Niklas Kruetten, Edouard, Cauhaupe, No. 2 United Autosports

Click here for the starting grid in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and here for the starting grid by number.


QUALIFYING

Click here for the DPi And LMP2 results

Click here for GTLM results/GTD points

Click here for the GTD results

Click here for the LMP3 results

PRACTICE

Click here for Session I l Session II

IndyCar’s ‘Phoenix’ flying into 2023 season: Romain Grosjean enjoying the pilot’s life

IndyCar Romain Grosjean pilot
Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment
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PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – The IndyCar driver known as “The Phoenix” already has taken flight before the 2023 season, and newly licensed pilot Romain Grosjean also got a head start on the opener.

Fulfilling a dream several years in the making, the Andretti Autosport plunged into aviation training over the offseason. Since beginning with online studying last August, Grosjean quickly progressed to earning his licenses for multiengine planes and instrument ratings while completing 115 hours of flight time.

He has landed twice at Albert Whitted Airport, whose primary runway also doubles as the front straightaway on the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg street course.

“Just to land on the start-finish line, that was pretty cool,” Grosjean said during IndyCar Preseason Content Days ahead of the Feb. 2-3 test at The Thermal Club. “The air traffic control guy was like, “Yeah, left on Acre Five, turn, and then back. I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s the last corner of the racetrack, I’ll take it and go back to the pit lane. He was like, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, that’s true.’ So it was quite funny.”

Grosjean, 36, said he had wanted to become a pilot since he was 30 but was discouraged by Europe’s complicated and time-consuming licensing process (“to go to ground school twice a week, and with our life, it’s impossible”). He was inspired again last year by (now former) teammate Alexander Rossi, who flew to some 2022 races after earning his license a couple of years ago.

“I thought that was pretty cool,” said Grosjean, who had grown “bored of waiting in the airports.”

He plans to fly to nearly all the races this year (“if the weather is good enough, I’ll be flying”) and jokes about being “commercial by the end of the year, so then I can take Roger (Penske). Roger can pay me to fly him around to races if things go bad with racing.”

Grosjean’s social media has been filled with posts about his new hobby, which afforded him the opportunity recently to take his wife to Key West for lunch from their home in the Miami area.

The trip took 37 minutes there and 41 minutes on return and highlighted why Grosjean loves flying: “Freedom. Freedom to go anywhere you want, anytime you want. It’s the beauty of it. We can go to the Bahamas for a day if we want to. Anywhere. I think that’s just great to know that you can do whatever you want.”

It’s reminiscent of the cross-country trip across the Midwest in an RV that Grosjean took with his family during the summer of his 2021 rookie season.

“There’s one thing that I told my kids, and I told my friend about America, and for me, that’s the biggest difference between Europe and here, is here everything is possible,” said Grosjean (whose “Phoenix” nickname was derived from a brush with death in his final Formula One start). “If you have the wish, if you give yourself the possibility of doing it, everything is possible. It is different in Europe. Much more boundaries on the way. Much more steps that you need to do in a certain order. But if you want to be extraordinary (in the United States), if you want to do something different, you don’t need to do those steps because you can work through.

“Yeah, I like doing things, and when I do them, I like doing them well. But here I think just the opportunity of driving the RV, flying planes, for my kids to do whatever they want to do, we love that here. Yeah, it’s been the best discovery for us.”

The Swiss-born Frenchman already has flown himself to a race this year, jetting up the Florida coast for his Rolex 24 at Daytona debut last month. It was his debut as a Lamborghini factory driver, and his new deal will continue with the Twelve Hours of Sebring and possibly the Petit Le Mans while he also helps develop the automaker’s new hybrid prototype (LMDh) for next year.

Grosjean finished a disappointing 13th in the 2022 points standings with one podium for Andretti in his first full IndyCar season. The team showed improvement at Thermal, and Grosjean (who was fourth fastest on Day 1) said IndyCar will remain his priority in 2024.

But he hopes the IndyCar schedule will afford racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship endurance races and perhaps his longest plane flight yet — a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“I’ll keep my fingers crossed like that we get the weekend off from IndyCar,” said Grosjean, noting that 10 IndyCar drivers were in the Rolex 24. “I think it would make a lot of sense. I think for both series it’s amazing. If we can get Le Mans, it’s also amazing because it’s just cool.

“I remember Mario flying across the Atlantic doing Monaco and the Indy 500, and those guys, they were racing everywhere, Formula 3, Formula 2, Formula 1. They were doing the races in opening of the Formula 1 race, and I think that’s very cool for us. So yeah, looking forward to the project. There’s going to be a lot of development coming on. By the time we finish the IndyCar season, the LMDh will be here in the States, and that’s when I’m going to spend a lot of time on it.”