Third of four events to decide championship this Sunday.
While there are seven events remaining in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship 2015 season – counting Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at historic Watkins Glen International – this race is the third in the four-race Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup, and the competition is getting serious.
Races one and two were the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, and the final event in the Endurance Cup quartet of races is the season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on October 3.
So while teams have some time to make up lost points for the overall TUDOR Championship honors, the points standings could substantially shift in the Endurance Cup after this weekend’s six-hour race.
It’s an important competition, not just for bragging rights, but for the teams’ pocketbooks. A purse of $300,000 is awarded to the champions of the Patrón Endurance Cup, with $100,000 going to the Prototype and GT Le Mans championship-winning teams, and $50,000 going to the Prototype Challenge and GT Daytona championship winners.
And the Patrón Endurance Cup round winners at each endurance event receive a limited edition bottle of Gran Patrón Platinum, numbered and signed by Francisco Alcaraz himself, the creator of the Gran Patrón Platinum recipe and Tequila Patrón’s Master Distiller and Blender.
Tied for first in the Prototype standings is the Action Express drivers Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Sebastien Bourdais, though Bourdais won’t be at Watkins Glen this weekend, as his regular job of driving an IndyCar has him spending the weekend at Auto Club Speedway in California. Barbosa and Fittipaldi are the defending NAEC champions.
In second is Scott Dixon, who will also be driving IndyCars in Fontana, California, so it’s an opportunity for the five drivers tied for third to advance: Max Angelelli, Ricky Taylor and Jordan Taylor of the No. 10 Konica Minolta Chevrolet Corvette DP, and Joey Hand and Scott Pruett, drivers of the Chip Ganassi Racing Ford EcoBoost Riley DP.
Prototype Challenge battle close
In Prototype Challenge, the NAEC points are just as tight, with Mike Guasch, Tom Kimber-Smith and Andrew Palmer of the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Cuttwood Oreca-Chevrolet in first with 30 points. Just one point behind are Jon Bennett, Colin Braun and James Gue in the No. 54 CORE FlexBox Oreca-Chevrolet.
In GT-Le Mans, the trio of Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Ryan Briscoe have a little more breathing room with 29 points, compared to 23 for their Corvette Racing C7.R teammates Tommy Milner, Oliver Gavin and Simon Pagenaud. But Briscoe won’t be in the No. 3 car, and Pagenaud won’t be in the No. 4 Corvette, as both are racing in IndyCar this weekend.
Magnussen and Garcia are coming off a tough 24 Hours of Le Mans where Magnussen wrecked the car in pre-race practice due to a throttle malfunction and the team couldn’t compete, while Milner and Gavin, with help from Jordan Taylor, won their class. The No. 3 still isn’t repaired, so the team will borrow a Corvette from Larbre Competition, a European team, for the race.
Viper drivers lead NAEC GT-Daytona
The GT-Daytona NAEC points are very close, with Cameron Lawrence and Al Carter in the lead with 27 points, and both are racing this weekend in the No. 83 Viper Exchange Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper SRT, teamed with Marc Goossens.
The trio of Townsend Bell, Anthony Lazzaro and Bill Sweedler are tied for second with 24 points each, but only Sweedler and Bell are on the entry list for this weekend in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Robert Graham/Royal Purple Ferrari 458 Italia.
As far as the full field goes, Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian’s No. 60 Honda-powered Ligier J2 P2 was the fastest Prototype in Friday practice, with Ozz Negri running a best lap of 124.828 mph in the car he will share with John Pew. The two Action Express team Corvette DP cars took the next two positions, with Joao Barbosa second in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling/Cider Tree car with a speed of 123.962 mph, followed by the No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette DP driven by Dane Cameron, who ran a lap of 123.924 mph.
In GTLM, John Edwards had the fastest lap in the No. 24 IHG Rewards Club BMW Z4 GTLM co-driven by Lucas Luhr, with a lap of 117.492 mph.
Defending Prototype Challenge winner Colin Braun led the class with a lap of 121.411 mph in the No. 54 CORE autosport Flex-Box/Composite Resources ORECA FLM09. And in GT-Daytona, TRG-AMR driver Kuno Wittmer was fastest, with a lap of 112.467 mph in the No. 007 Royal Purple/Orion Energy/LaSalle Solutions/PassTime USA Aston Martin Vantage co-driven by Christina Nielsen.
Sahlen’s Six Hours at The Glen will take the green flag at 10:10 a.m. ET on Sunday at Watkins Glen International. Live TV coverage begins at 10 a.m. ET on FOX Sports 1 with FOX Sports 2 picking up the race at 2 p.m. Flag-to-flag radio coverage also will be available via IMSA Radio.