Starting lineup grid for IMSA Detroit: Sebastien Bourdais, Ganassi on pole again

IMSA
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Sebastien Bourdais made it two consecutive pole positions and four in the last IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races, setting a track record Friday to claim the top spot in the starting lineup for the final Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at Belle Isle Raceway in Detroit.

The Chip Ganassi Racing No. 01 Cadillac driver turned a 1-minute, 18.818-second lap around the 14-turn, 2.35-mile street course to break the previous mark (1:19.373) set by Juan Pablo Montoya in 2019. It was the last opportunity to claim the record as the 100-minute event will move to a new downtown street course next year.

“I couldn’t leave the track record to Juan Pablo,” said Bourdais, who hit the Turn 2 wall early in the session. “It’s really sweet. Obviously, a couple of really big laps, a really big hit and super happy that the Cadillac is so strong because any other car, that was the end of the session halfway through.

DETROIT STARTING GRID: Click here for the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic starting lineup l Lineup by car number

IMSA AT DETROIT: How to watch Saturday

“I took off and ended in the wall pretty square in Turn 2. That was unexpected. There was a strong tailwind in (Turns) 1 and 2, and it caught me off-guard. Really happy for Cadillac at its home race. Big commitment around here; really rewarding. It’s really the first time I put everything together in qualifying in Detroit.”

Bourdais and Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Renger van der Zande won from the pole at Long Beach, California, but were unable to close the deal from the pole last month at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and at Sebring International Raceway in March.

The No. 01 won last year’s Detroit race with van der Zande and Kevin Magnussen, and Cadillacs have won three of the past four DPi races at Detroit.

Bourdais beat out the two Acuras in the field as Tom Blomqvist qualified second (0.110 seconds behind) in the No. 60 ARX-05 for Meyer Shank Racing. Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing.

In GTD, Kyle Kirkwood put the No. 17 Vasser Sullivan Racing Lexus RC F GT3 on the pole position by closing the qualifying session with a lap of 1-minute, 29.096-seconds to knock off No. 27 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 driver Roman De Angelis by 0.118 seconds.

It’s the second career IMSA pole for Kirkwood (who qualified first for the 2021 Six Hours at the Glen) and the 10th pole for Vasser Sullivan Racing.

“It’s been a hectic day, but I love driving race cars and that’s what we’re doing today,” Kirkwood said. “It’s a lot of balancing. Making sure I make engineering meetings for both teams. Everyone has gathered around and helped out a lot to make sure that I get to all of the right places.

“Today ranks pretty high up there in my career. I’ve definitely got a headache now from all the running around I’ve done, but it’s been a lot of fun. My passion is racing cars and I got to do a lot of it today.”

The broadcast of the 100-minute race will begin at 3 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Warmup

Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
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More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”