Indicative of a track obviously offering increased traction thanks to layers of tire rubber building up – despite-100 degree temperatures – there was a flurry of changes atop the Rolex Series lap chart in Saturday’s late-afternoon session that completed the test. When the revolving door of leaders stopped, Ricky Taylor had the honors in his No. 10 SunTrust Racing Corvette DP, with a 108.649 mph lap (1 minute, 23.962 seconds) around the 2.534-mile road course.
Saturday wrapped up a highly anticipated two-day visit for GRAND-AM’s Rolex Series and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, in preparation for back-to-back Indy debuts on July 27. The Rolex Series event – the Brickyard Grand Prix – will be the finale of the North American Endurance Championship (NAEC) presented by VISITFLORIDA.com. The inaugural NAEC is a three-race special competition encompassing the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, last week’s 6-hour Watkins Glen race and Indianapolis.
SunTrust is amid a somewhat disappointing season, despite two wins. Of course, another win, at Indy, could soothe that considerably. This weekend, the No. 10 team established itself as one of the Brickyard Grand Prix favorites.
“The track was ‘rubbering up’ a good bit, and the speeds kept getting faster even though the temperatures were climbing,” said Taylor, who co-drives with Max Angelelli. “This means a lot to us, especially with our team being based in Indy. We’re really looking forward to coming back for the race.”
In the Rolex Series’ production-based GT class, the best test lap was turned in Eric Curran in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Chevrolet Corvette, 99.857 mph (1:31.355). Curran co-drives with Boris Said.
“Mini” Test Set For Monday, For Several Rolex Series Teams
A number of cars weren’t able to test on Friday and Saturday due to other driver commitments, most notably the No. 02 Chevron BMW-Riley of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. The No. 02 will be a special “one-off” entry in the Brickyard Grand Prix, aiding Ganassi’s efforts to win the North American Endurance Championship. The car’s drivers – Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya – were a bit busy during the weekend, racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event held Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway.
As a result of that conflict – and several others – Indianapolis Motor Speedway and GRAND-AM arranged for an extra test day for a few teams, scheduled for Monday.
“Indy was very accommodating on this, which we appreciate,” said Rolex Series Manager Gary Cummings. “Everybody understands the importance of this event for us.”
In addition to McMurray and Montoya, others drivers/teams rolling in on Monday: Antonio Garcia in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP; Michael Valiente and Chris Cumming in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley; and Alex Popow and Luca Luhr in the No. 2 Ford-Riley of Starworks Motorsport.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials, already excited about GRAND-AM coming to town, were even more so this weekend when the “crossover” element of former Indy 500 competitors became obvious.
The list of drivers entered in the Brickyard Grand Prix with Indy 500 experience starts with Juan Pablo Montoya, who won the 500 in 2000 in dominating fashion. The others:
· Scott Pruett (four starts, best finish of 10th, 1989)
· Eliseo Salazar (six starts, best finish of 3rd, 2000)
· Paul Tracy (seven starts, best finish of 2nd, 2002)
CTSCC: Homecoming Lands ST Driver At P1
A classic “hometown hero” storyline was emerging this weekend at Indy, in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge’s Street Tuner class. Indianapolis native Chad Gilsinger, who posted the fastest ST lap of the test (89.512 mph/1 minute, 41.913 seconds) in the No. 92 HART Honda Accord, grew up enamored with the Indy 500. He was born on May 30, 1976 – while the 500 was being run.
“So obviously, this track is really special to me,” said Gilsinger, who co-drives with Steve Eich and John Schmitt. “We were able to run pretty quick times this weekend so I think we have two really good cars to bring back at the end of July. As long as we can maintain this pace then I think we’ll be pretty good.”
In the GS class, Billy Johnson and Jack Roush Jr. had the dominant car throughout the two days and ended with the fastest lap in GS (and overall in CTSCC) – 94.905/1:37.042.
Source: Grand-Am Road Racing