IMSA starting lineup: Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani tightened the DPi championship race heading into the season finale, qualifying first Friday for the Petit Le Mans season finale at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
Nasr turned a lap of 1 minute, 8.678 seconds in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac, earning the maximum 35 points for the Action Express team. Nasr and Derani now trail by eight points in the premier division standings to the Wayne Taylor Racing No. 10 Acura of Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque, who qualified seventh.
“I actually had a dream a few nights ago that I would get the pole,” Nasr said. “It was tough going up the hill into the sun, it was blinding. I managed to keep it on the track and get the pole. The Action Express Racing team is really dialed in and focused this weekend. Pipo and (third driver) Mike (Conway) are motivated and we are ready for the race.”
IMSA PETIT LE MANS: Details for watching Saturday’s race
Said Albuquerque: “Last qualifying of the year and I felt quite confident in the car to throw everything I had at it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. Obviously, we have something going on this weekend that is atypical for us. We seem to be missing something on the car that is not enabling us to run close to the other Acura car.
“We’re just hoping that we can solve this thing and that we find it before the race is over. 10 hours is a long race. We’re holding on and we never give up.”
Harry Tincknell qualified second in the No. 55 Mazda, which is making its final start as the automaker exits DPi. Sebastien Bourdais was third in the No. 5 Cadillac, followed by Kevin Magnussen (No. 01 Cadillac) and Dane Cameron (No. 60 Acura).
Magnussen reportedly will be replaced by Earl Bamber in the race because of illness.
Kamui Kobayashi was sixth in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac of Action Express with co-drivers Jimmie Johnson and Simon Pagenaud.
Don't forget #MotulPetitLeMans live coverage begins tomorrow at 12PM ET on NBC.
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It was an emotional pole-winning news conference for Nasr, who is racing for the final time at Action Express before moving onto a new team and manufacturer as the IMSA WeatherTech Championship Series transitions into the LMDh category in 2023.
“I promised myself that I wouldn’t let the emotions come until after the checkered flag drops,” Nasr said. “That shows how much respect and love I have for the team. They took me in as family when I joined halfway through 2017. They’re just a big family to me. … This is something that will always remain. It will be sad to leave them.
“There is so much on the line and you just want to deliver. I had a lot of fun. Wow; it’s a great car to drive. … It was all about getting the tires correctly in the window and bringing them up and just nailing those laps.”
In other classes, the pole winners were:
GTLM: Jesse Krohn, No. 24 BMW Team RLL M8 GTE, 1 minute, 15.226 seconds
GTD: Madison Snow, No. 1 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3, 1 minute 19.272 seconds
LMP2: Ben Keating, No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07, 1 minute 12.229 seconds
LMP3: Niklas Kruetten, No. 2 United Autosports USA Ligier JS P320, 1 minute, 15.664 seconds