IMSA starting lineup for Petit Le Mans season finale at Road Atlanta: Felipe Nasr wins pole

IMSA Petit Le Mans starting lineup
IMSA
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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

STARTING LINEUP: By position l By number

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.

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

Click here for the starting grid in the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta and here for the starting lineup by number.

QUALIFYING:

Click here for the DPi/LMP2 results

Click here for GTLM results/GTD points

Click here for the GTD position results

Click here for the LMP3 results

PRACTICE

Click here for Session I l Session II l Session III

Lessons learned in three rounds of Extreme E pay huge dividends in the Copper X Prix for Tanner Foust

Foust Copper X Prix
McLaren Racing
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To paraphrase the Grateful Dead, what a long, unique trip it’s been for Tanner Foust in his first season with the Extreme E series as he took his early season lessons to Chile to compete in the Copper X Prix. And he’s learned his lessons well.

In February, McLaren announced they would expand their motorsports program with an Extreme E entry. They signed two talented rally drivers in Foust and Emma Gilmour – and paired them for the opening round in Neom, Saudi Arabia with just a few days of testing under their belts. Baked by the Arabian desert sun, it was trial by fire.

The duo performed well in their debut, advancing into the final round and finishing fifth. As Extreme E headed to another desert halfway across the globe for Round 4, it was a good time to catch up with Foust and ask about McLaren’s progress. The Copper X Prix was held this past weekend in one of the most extreme regions in the world: the Atacama Desert.

MORE: McLaren considering Kyle Busch for Indy 500

“The shock going into the first race was the speed,” Foust told NBC Sports. “It was much higher than we had tested. We spent a lot of time around 100 miles per hour [in race trim] and our testing speeds were more in the 60 to 70-mile range. Then, once we sort of got around that, the car got updated so you can drive it even faster.”

In rally racing, some incidents are out of a driver’s control. Even peeking around another car can be dangerous because of potholes that have recently been gouged in the ground or large bushes that seem to sprout up between laps. A couple of rollovers brought Foust back to earth – but the pace was there and that was important.

“We had some challenges this season,” Foust said prior to the Copper X Prix. “We had a good start; made the final, which is a difficult thing to do in this series. I had two rolls in the first three events, but I have improved each time. Now we come into Round 4 in Chile in a pretty strong position. We have competitive times as a team. We are communicating really well and have our heads around this Odyssey vehicle.”

Foust’s words proved to be prophetic.

He won the Crazy Race – Extreme E’s version of a Last Chance Qualifier – and did so after passing the field. It was the same manner in which he qualified for Saudi Arabia’s finale, but this time things would be better. There were those hard-earned lessons on which to lean – and Foust had reps under his belt. He was not going to be caught off guard by any random obstacles.

Tanner Foust passed Sebastien Loeb heading to the Switch Zone in the Copper X Prix. (Photo by Sam Bagnall / LAT Images)

In the Copper X Prix finale, he pressured one of the best rally drivers in the history of the sport.

Pitching sideways through a tight left-hander late in his stint, Foust put his McLaren Extreme E Odyssey at the head of the pack in front of Sebastien Loeb as they headed to the Switch Zone. There, he would turn the car over to his co-driver Gilmour.

The Extreme E series pairs male and female drivers with both taking a turn behind the wheel.

After the driver change, Gilmour lost the lead momentarily to Loeb’s teammate Cristina Gutierrez, but as they charged toward the finish line, she surged ahead and crossed under the checkers first.

“What an improvement for the team over this year,” Foust said after the race. “We have struggled through some of the events, being in our first year in competition. We showed true pace this weekend; overtaking Sebastien Loeb was a highlight.

“Emma put in a great run in the Final. I was fortunate to go from last to first in the Crazy Race and then first in the Final but with some flag penalties, we had 20 seconds added to our time, which put us into fifth. It was a great feeling crossing the line first, I love this wide style track and the NEOM McLaren Odyssey was fantastic here.

“Hopefully we can continue that momentum into Uruguay.”

Loeb and Gutierrez were elevated to the top of the podium, but no one can take away the feeling of crossing under the checkers first.


Racing Responsibly

Since cars were first invented, racing has played a socially responsible role by improving safety. As Earth reaches a tipping point with climate change, racing needs to adapt to these new needs and requirements, which is where Extreme E’s unique strategy becomes increasingly important.

The Extreme E experience is more than simple racing. Each race is accompanied by a legacy program designed to offset damage done by climate change and to erase the footprint caused by the events.

Foust, a biology major from the University of Colorado, was given the chance to rekindle his interest and give back to the environment ahead of the Copper X Prix.

The Atacama is the oldest desert in the world at 150 million years. It is the driest place on earth and has the highest degree of ultraviolet light. And yet somehow life perseveres through underground rivers with oases dating back to Incan times. Foust participated in preparing a local habitat for the reintroduction of a critically endangered water frog to Chile’s longest river, the Loa, which snakes its way through the desert.

“I’m loving the experience,” Foust said. “I’m putting on a lot of Chapstick, a lot of sunscreen. What a fascinating part of the world. I never would have come here otherwise.

“I honestly am very honored to be a part of this sport. I am a huge believer in the fact that motorsports has done us good in the last 100 years. I think we benefit every single time we put our seatbelts on and drive down the road to the lessons learned in racing since the turn of the century. And I really hope motorsports continues that tradition.

“I think that motorsports like [Extreme E] does it in a responsible way, a gender-neutral way and a carbon-neutral way.”