Watkins Glen Friday morning notes

This is the concluding event of the inaugural Grand American Road Racing Association season. The weekend features a unique format, with three points races. On Friday evening, a pair of 18-lap, 100-kilometer races will be held on the 3.4-mile...

This is the concluding event of the inaugural Grand American Road Racing Association season. The weekend features a unique format, with three points races. On Friday evening, a pair of 18-lap, 100-kilometer races will be held on the 3.4-mile "long" circuit, which includes 11 turns plus the Inner Loop at the end of the back straight. At 7:15 p.m., cars in the Grand-Am GTO, GTU and American GT classes will hold their qualifying race, followed by the SportsRacer and SportsRacer Lights at 18 p.m. In addition to setting the field for Sunday's race, both qualifying races will award full Grand-Am points.

Sunday will be the continuation of the famed Six Hours, taking the green flag at 11 a.m.

While Friday's qualifying races will have a one-driver, no pit stop, sprint format, all drivers entered on each car will receive Grand-Am points.

All five Grand-Am drivers championships will be up for grabs this weekend:

In SportsRacer, James Weaver enters the weekend with a 15-point lead over Didier Theys, with Jack Baldwin and Elliott Forbes-Robinson 25 points behind the leader. Mimmo Schiattarella is fifth, 31 points behind. Also in mathematical contention is Ralf Kelleners, 64 points behind.

In SportsRacer Lights, Archangel Motorsports teammates Larry Oberto and Ryan Hampton can clinch a tie for the championship in Friday's qualifying race. Rich Grupp and Dennis Spencer are tied for third, 47 points behind. The championship will be shared between the teammates unless only one of them scores points in Sunday's race.

GTO has a similar scenario. Saleen Allen Speedlab teammates Terry Borcheller and Ron Johnson are tied for the points lead and will share the title unless one of them fails to drive the minimum distance on Sunday.

In GTU, Mike Fitzgerald leads G&W Motorsports teammate Darren Law heading into Friday's qualifier. Fitzgerald is 16 points ahead of Law (the pair drove in different cars in the season-opening Rolex 24). Third place Kevin Buckler is 39 points behind, with Rick Fairbanks and Philip Collin also in mathmatical contention.

The hotly-disputed American GT championship is going down to the wire between former teammates Steve McNeil and Doug Mills, with the Spirit of Daytona team of Craig Conway and Doug Goad very much in the running. McNeil and Mills co-drove in five races this season, including a class victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. In a bid to win the championship, Mills went on his own and is now eight points behind McNeil. Meanwhile, Goad and Conway have dominated the class, winning five races. However, neither scored points in their victory at Lime Rock (a driver receives no points if he exceeds the maximum distance), and the miscalculation leaves them 13 points behind McNeil and five behind Mills.

The No. 00 Orion Motorsports Team Chicago Ford Mustang, driven by Paul Jenkins, sustained significant front end damage in a crash during Friday morning's opening practice session.

The No. 37 InterSport Judd Lola of Oliver Gavin and Jon Field posted the fastest time in morning practice, 1:39.0/123.589 mph on the 3.4-mile road circuit. Second was the No. 16 Dyson Ford of Butch Leitzinger, Andy Wallace and James Weaver, 1:39.4/123.133 mph. Fastest in SportsRacer Lights was the No. 22 Archangel Motorsports Nissan Lola, 1:47.3/114.063 mph.

In opening GT practice, the No. 5 Saleen SR of Terry Borcheller and Ron Johnson topped the charts by a fraction of a second with a lap of 1:52.4/108.917, followed by the No. 25 Roock Porche, 1:52.4/108.886. David Murry topped GTU, 1:55.7/105.763 mph, while Irv Hoerr topped American GT, 1:57.5/104.149 mph.

The No. 27 Doran Lista Special was awarded the pole position for Friday evening's 18-lap qualifying race in a draw by event Grand Marshal Barton Jones. The No. 81 G&W Porsche was awarded the GT pole. The remainder of the respective grids were determined by Team Owner Championship points and by a random draw conducted by Mr. Jones.

HURLEY HAYWOOD (No. 07 GTO G&W Motorsports Porsche GT2 EVO) -- Danny and Steve Marshall called me out of the blue and asked me to drive with them. I know Mike Fitzgerald, and they've got a good team, and I like the concept of them helping the Jennifer Fund. It's a good team and an interesting concept, so I'm happy to be be on board. We're not going to be the fastest GT car out there, but we've got the traditional Porsche reliability on our side. If we keep running, we'll be alright. It would be great to win my 10th race here. I know we've got a good car that could do it.

In order to score Grand-Am driver points in Sunday's Six Hours, a driver must complete at least 90 minutes and no more than 270 minutes. To score points in Friday's qualifying race, a driver must take the green flag.

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