SCOTT PRUETT/No.01 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford Riley DP continued to prove that he just improves with age Friday afternoon in the qualifying session for the TUDOR United Sports Car Championship Sports Car Showcase. The fifty-four year-old driver sits on the pole with a lap time of 1:15.325, on his last lap. His time is a new lap record.
Second was OSWALDO NEGRI Jr/No.60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Ford Riley DP, with CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI/No.5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP finishing third fastest, but not for lack of trying to pip Pruett.
This session was exciting and fast-paced as the times kept getting lower and lower. A Red Flag was called with six+ minutes remaining in the P session, due to RYAN DALZIEL/No.1 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b who appeared to have a braking problem, and he pulled off near the fountain. The retrieval time almost, but not quite ran out the clock. However, the final three minutes were even faster paced as the times continued to drop even further; but Pruett remained on top.
Dalziel and teammate SCOTT SHARP will start last in the P category due to losing their fast lap as the penalty assessment for causing the Red Flag.
Pruett kept lowering his times all session. This is his first pole this season, and his thirty-third sports car pole. “At Long Beach, you just get braver and braver. It’s certainly better to start at the front. I’ve raced here with an all-green race, and races with lots of crashes. It will be exciting, it will be fun. We’ve just been fine-tuning the car as it was good off the transporter. Now, we go right to racing without any more practice.” About going back out after the Red Flag, Pruett said “We felt we could pull off a faster lap after the Red Flag, so absolutely had to go back out.”
“It’s great that the two oldest drivers sitting are on the front row, and Dad here (pointing to JAN MAGNUSSEN/No.3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette Cr.7) on the GTLM pole, and with a son doing so well in F1.” Pruett is 54, Negri is almost fifty, and Magnussen is pushing 41. So much for Youth and Good Looks, with all this experience running up front. People have been teasing Magnussen all weekend that he’s gone from being a world-class driver to being Kevin’s Dad. His son is KEVIN MAGNUSSEN, who is racing for McLaren in Formula One, and had a podium finish in his first-ever race. Kevin finished third in Australia, which became a second place after the DNQ accorded to DANIEL RICCIARDO/Red Bull Racing.
Magnussen took the GTLM pole in his fifteen minute qualifying session, with a lap of 1:17.939, the only driver to break into the 17′s. It was also a new qualifying lap record. Second and third were BMW Team RLL teammates, BILL AUBERLEN/No.55 BMW Team RLL, who had led for awhile, and DIRK MUELLER/No.56.
It was the second LBGP pole for Magnussen, and his seventeenth sports car pole. He turned his time five minutes into the session and it held.”It stuck and I didn’t hit any walls. Reliability has been 100 percent. It’s a one-stop race. These short races can be a little bit tricky in strategy. Most of the time we play it safe, and sometimes we lose out, but usually we do well.”
The drivers must start the race on three of their their qualifying tires. The starting driver must be nominated within half an hour after qualifying, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be the qualifying driver.
In the late afternoon practice preceding qualifying, the finishing order was Fittipaldi, Pruett, and JORDAN TAYLOR/No.10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP. Earlier in the day, Taylor’s team owner, WAYNE TAYLOR, announced that the No.10 car driven by his two young sons, Jordan and Ricky, would be sponsored by Konica Minolta, with a multi-year contract.
Konica Minolta CEO, RICK TAYLOR, no relation to Wayne’s family, said “There is a little bit of a branding deal going on with the hair with the young lads coming up. One a little bit more so than others, but they’re carving out their niche, and I would say it’s working, so don’t fix it. Congratulations, guys, well done.” Rick was referring to the Taylor sons, especially Jordan who is infamous for his long hair and mullet – which is one of his nicknames. Jordan has vowed to grow his hair until LeMans at which time he’ll cut it and donate it to ‘Locks for Love,’ a charity which provides hairpieces for children suffering from long-term medical issues.
In the GTLM Friday practice, Auberlen was fastest at 1:38.114, followed by ANTONIO GARCIA/No.3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette DP, and NICK TANDY/No.911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR.
The post-qualifying technical inspection was cleared, with no problems.
The 100-minute TUDOR USCC Sports Car Showcase starts at 3:05pm local time and runs for 100 minutes.