Second-straight IMSA-best qualifying effort has Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen well positioned for today’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase.
Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin (August 8, 2015) – Ben Keating battled for a GT Daytona (GTD) pole right down to the wire for the second-straight IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race Saturday at Road America where he qualified second in the No. 33 ViperExchange.com/Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R for tomorrow’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase.
Round seven of 10 races on the 2015 IMSA TUDOR Championship GTD schedule, the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase airs live on FOX Sports 1 tomorrow, Sunday, August 9, from 3 – 6 p.m. EDT. Live timing and scoring and IMSA Radio’s play-by-play is also available during the race at IMSA.com.
We were really quick in practice this morning, we felt really strong and I was hopeful that we would get a pole here,
As he did one race ago at Lime Rock Park when he qualified a close second, Keating battled for the pole throughout the action-packed 15-minute Road America qualifying session.
Keating held the pole for a few minutes early on and later jumped from fourth to second with less than 10 seconds left on the clock. His top lap time of 2:09.488 (112.542 mph) was narrowly out-paced by the pole-winning Porsche of Patrick Lindsey.
"We were really quick in practice this morning, we felt really strong and I was hopeful that we would get a pole here,” Keating said. “I went through my first flying lap at 10.2 (2:10.200), which was P1 at the time, and I thought, ‘OK maybe that's going to do it.’ Then Bill Riley came on the radio and said Patrick did a 9.3 (2:09.370). That kind of blew my mind and I just gave it my all. I didn't think I'd be going that fast, but I had the bit in my teeth, I had a lot more motivation.”
Despite being closely edged for the pole in the last two races, the outside front-row qualifying efforts are Keating’s best in the IMSA TUDOR Championship. The strong performance Saturday has both ViperExchange.com drivers optimistic about tomorrow’s Continental Tire Sports Car Showcase.
“We had a good setup from the beginning, the guys came here with a really good basic car and we didn't have to work on it too much,” Bleekemolen said. “Ben did a great job. He was very competitive once again, so I expect him to again be very competitive in the first part of the race.”
If the intensity of today’s qualifying session was any indicator, Sunday’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase should be a barn burner.
“Patrick put down a good lap, I can't say anything about it,” Keating said. “I put down a good lap. That's all I got. I can't do that for a race, I can do that for one lap, so I'm hoping that Patrick's the same way and we can consistently be there in the end. So, we'll see."
Race-day Sunday begins with a 20-minute warm-up at 9 a.m. CDT with the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase taking the green flag at 2:05 p.m. CDT.