IMSA VIR Friday Notebook

ALTON, Va. – Coming off a win at the Road America 120 just three weeks ago alongside co-driver Dean Martin, Jack Roush Jr. will lead the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge field to green in tomorrow’s race at VIRginia International Raceway, after Roush set a track record to claim the TOTAL Pole Award in the Grand Sport (GS) class.

Driving the No. 59 KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang, Roush posted his fastest lap at one minute, 54.621 seconds around the 3.27-mile circuit. The previous track record of one minute, 56.929 seconds was set by Sebastien Landy in an Aston Martin Vantage last year.

“This is the place I really started road racing in what was then GRAND-AM, and now IMSA," Roush said. “It’s a pretty cool place and it’s great to be back. The GT4 is amazing here. It really is unlike any other previous generation racing Mustang that I’ve driven. It’s very well engineered, much more advanced technology. It’s a true production race car built out of a production chassis."

The pole marks Roush’s fourth of his career and first of the season, and Ford’s 45th pole in the series.

Roush and Martin head into tomorrow’s Biscuitville Grand Prix looking to add to their two wins thus far in 2017 but will face stiff competition in the rest of the Grand Sport (GS) class field.

Matt Bell in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R posted a lap just .351 seconds behind that of Roush’s to round out the front row. Point leader Dillon Machavern will start third in the No. 28 RS1 Porsche Cayman GT4 MR, while Canadian Chris Green will start fourth in their No. 69 Motorsports In Action McLaren GT4.

Clay Nabs ST TOTAL Pole Award at Home Track

What better way to start a home track weekend than with a pole position?

James Clay a Blacksburg, Virginia, native, posted a Street Tuner (ST) class record-setting and TOTAL Pole Award-winning lap of two minutes, 3.584 seconds on Friday evening in the No. 84 BimmerWorld Racing BMW 328i. The previous track record was set by Kevin Boehm last year with a time of two minutes, 4.66 seconds in a Honda Civic Si.

The pole is Clay’s second consecutive in the Continental Tire Challenge, after capturing the pole at Road America earlier this month, and the fourth of his career.

“Our home track at VIR, the sun setting and the lights low and it’s just this amazing track out here," he said. “It’s just so beautiful and what a perfect day to put down a good lap. I wouldn’t call it a perfect, it was a good one."

Alongside Clay will be Sarah Cattaneo in the No. 44 CRG I-Do-Borrow Nissan Altima. Cattaneo held the pole position until Clay swiped the spot in the last minute of qualifying.

A pair of Murillo Racing Porsche Caymans will start third and fourth, the former being the No. 34 of Christian Szymczak and the latter being the point leader, Jeff Mosing, in the No. 56. Road America winner Chad McCumbee rounds out the top five in the No. 25 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5.

Tomorrow’s Biscuitville Grand Prix, Round 8 of the Continental Tire Challenge, goes green at 2:10 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on IMSA.com.

Defending GTLM Race Winners Corvette Racing Tops Opening Day at VIR

The No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R team entered this weekend’s Michelin GT Challenge looking to do two things: repeat its 2016 victory at VIRginia International Raceway and expand its GT Le Mans (GTLM) class points lead with two races remaining after VIR.

If Friday’s pair of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice sessions are any indication, they’re off to a strong start with Antonio Garcia setting the fastest lap of the day in GTLM with a lap of 1:41.323 (116.182 mph) in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R.

Garcia and co-driver Jan Magnussen enter the weekend with an eight-point lead over the No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing duo of Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller.

“We can see that everyone is close," said Garcia. “A lot of it (setting a fast lap) depends on when you use your tires and your fuel load. That’s the biggest thing. The Corvette is running very well. There is still quite a bit of grip here. It’s different from last year; it’s less consistent. But everyone is very tight and the race and qualifying should be like that, too. It’s a bit early yet but it’s good to be on the competitive side of things."

Hand and Mueller led throughout much of the final session, before Garcia and BMW Team RLL’s John Edwards jumped to the top two spots on the charts in the final minute. Edwards lapped the 3.27-mile circuit in 1:41.405, just ahead of Mueller at 1:41.667.

Mul’s Lamborghini Sweeps the Day in GTD; Hindman to Substitute for Keating

Jeroen Mul swept the day’s two practice sessions in the GT Daytona (GTD) class, setting the fastest lap in the afternoon session with a lap of 1:43.830 (113.337 mph) in the No. 16 XBOX / Monster Energy / Orion Lighting Lamborghini Huracán GT3.

Mul, co-driver Corey Lewis and the No. 16 Change Racing team have had speed for much of the season, but often have been the victim of bad luck. They hope this is the weekend that all turns around.

“Obviously there are no points given yet, but it’s always a good feeling to know the car is in the right and setup," he said. “Still a long way to go with another practice and qualifying, which is the first session that’s going to matter, and then the race where we hopefully finally have a good result after the bad luck we’ve had this season."

There was one notable driver change on the day in the GTD class with one of the contenders for the GTD championship not competing this weekend due to the potential impact of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

Ben Keating, who has multiple businesses and his residence in the path of the storm, returned home this afternoon. Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge regular Trent Hindman will pilot the No. 33 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 alongside co-driver Jeroen Bleekemolen.

Acura DPi Program off to Strong Start After Successful First Test at Road Atlanta

Acura Motorsports and Team Penske got their new WeatherTech Championship Daytona Prototype international (DPi) program off to a strong start this week in a two-day test at Road Atlanta with veteran racer Juan Pablo Montoya at the wheel of the new ARX-05 race car.

It was the car’s first test after a brief shakedown at Circuit Paul Ricard in France last month, and came less than a week after the car was officially unveiled last Friday at Monterey Car Week. The team and manufacturer are planning several tests at a variety of circuits prior to the Acura DPi’s competition debut in the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 27-28, 2018.

“Overall, it was a good test," said Matthew Niles, senior engineer and project leader for Honda Performance Development. “We were close to the area of the total solar eclipse [on Monday], so we had to stop running for a bit as the sun was dimmed. We went on to complete all of our run plan, and feel we have a good base to build on going forward."

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