NDIANAPOLIS – Stevenson Motorsports will start Friday’s Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway from the front row after Robin Liddell, who shares the No. 57 Camaro GT.R with John Edwards, posted the second quickest time of Thursday’s 15-minute qualifying session with a lap time of 1:28.917-seconds. It marks the team’s fourth front row start of the year as Stevenson looks to a fifth win in the last six Rolex Series races.
The Stevenson squad went to work to repair the problem and made improvements to the car throughout the second practice and those efforts paid dividends when Liddell took to the track for qualifying.
“We lost pretty much the entire session this morning due to a couple of problems,” said Liddell, who will open the three-hour endurance race before handing the car over to Edwards. “We had a transmission issue and we had to change the gearbox after only about four laps and we also had some stuff going on with the dash. I was pretty confident that the guys were going to get all of that stuff squared away.
But I wasn't overly happy with the balance of the car, even in the second practice session so we made another shot at it for qualifying. The car has definitely improved, now we are only about a half a second off. I am happy enough, especially given where we were this morning. To be on the front row and be in a decent starting position with the car intact and some more data and more laps to work on the car for tomorrow, I'm happy with it."
“We have always had really great gearbox reliability, but we rolled out on the first Rolex Series session and we were getting all of these random warning lights and we couldn't get anything to run,” added team manager Mike Johnson. “So we missed an hour and a half of practice and we didn't really have much data.
So in the second session, with thirty minutes both John and Robin got a little bit of time and neither one of them were really happy. Andy Ramsey, our engineer, made some really great engineering decisions and got a car that Robin could at least qualify up front. We are still a session behind, the 31 car is still a pretty big gap in front of us, but we are racing the 44 and the 63 right now, so all in all, it was a decent end to a bad start."
It was another busy day for the team, which stages campaigns in both the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series as well as the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, and holds second in both championships currently.
Matt Bell, who teams with Edwards in the No. 9 Camaro GS.R in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (CTSCC) competition, delivered a strong qualifying performance around the Indianapolis road course to put the No. 9 machine fourth on the grid with a time of 1:35.997-seconds.
He will start Friday’s 2.5-hour race from outside the second row before turning the car over to Edwards to once again take to the finish. The last four races have seen the team on the podium three times, and the group will look to have that kind of result again on Friday.
Stevenson Motorsports worked throughout the day to improve the car during the day’s two CTSCC practice sessions which took place ahead of the afternoon qualifying session.
“Considering where the track went I think the team made the right decision with the changes they made, but it's like a whole different place out there,” said Bell of the run. “Everyone I talked to said the whole track was loose. It was strange because the whole morning we had been fighting understeer so now to have the polar opposite issue is difficult to deal with.
But even during those practice sessions the track was changing, so by the time John (Edwards) got out of the car and I got in I wasn't really pleased with the bar change we made, even on new tires. But now that we have data to look at we know the right changes to make."
The team enters the race weekend second in the championship and is looking to capture maximum points in Friday’s race as they remain focused on capturing the championship title with the final five races of the season yet to run.
It will be a busy race day for Stevenson Motorsports as the 2.5-hour Brickyard Sports Car Challenge is set to go green at 2:00 PM (ET) on Friday followed by the three-hour Brickyard Grand Prix at 5:30 PM (ET).