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Long Beach Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday WeatherTech Championship notebook from Long Beach…

Photo: John Dagys

***Juan Pablo Montoya’s pole-winning 1:12.922 lap in the No. 6 Team Penske Acura ARX-05, a new track qualifying record for the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, was only less than five seconds slower than Scott Dixon’s pace-setting 1:08.411 lap set in Verizon IndyCar Series practice on Friday.

***A number of cars found the wall, particularly in today’s second practice session, including John Edwards’ No. 24 BMW M8 GTE, No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R of Eric Curran and both Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPis.

***GT Le Mans class pole-sitter Joey Hand revealed that he lost two mirrors due to brushes with the concrete barriers as well. “My guys say that since I put it on pole, no check mark for me!” he joked during the post-qualifying press conference.

***Performance Tech Motorsports lost time this morning after its No. 38 Oreca 07 Gibson, which also ended up in the wall, was delivered to the IndyCar paddock and couldn’t make its way to the IMSA paddock, located on the outside of the track, until a break in track activity.

***The James French-driven car sustained bodywork and suspension damage in the opening practice session accident, although returned to action for the remainder of the day’s on-track activities. Kyle Masson qualified the car in 11th.

***Oddly enough, track limits has been a talking point so far this weekend, with numerous laps from practice and qualifying disallowed due to drivers exceeding a new double-yellow line at the end of the front straight heading into Turn 1.

***Hand, who lost two laps today in practice, believes the line needs to be better defined. “I told them, ‘Hey, if we’re going to call it, they we need to paint it before the race because it’s really tough to tell where it is,” he told Sportscar365. 

***Wayne Taylor has been bombarded with ace playing cards (pictured above), following his accidental slip-up on the live FS2 broadcast at Sebring when he blurted out “fu**ing ace” while being interviewed by Justin Bell post-race. The legendary team owner/driver has taken the gesture in stride, with one of the cards even being carried inside the cockpit of the its Cadillac DPi-V.R this weekend.

***After its temporary tattoo campaign last year, WTR has introduced a new team tradition, in randomly selecting a team member to join Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande at the autograph session to sign custom-made collector cards, printed on Konica Minolta/MGI stock.

***Konica Minolta President and CEO Rick Taylor will take part in tomorrow’s autograph session, signing a special gold-minted collector card. Dave Nisbet, a.k.a “McLovin” and the team’s truckie, Paul Sheehan, were recognized at Daytona and Sebring, respectively.

***Thomas Blam is among the handful of crew on double duty this weekend between the WeatherTech Championship and Pirelli World Challenge paddocks. Blam, who calls race strategy for the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P, also serves as team manager of the two-car K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 squad.

***Jesse Krohn and Connor De Phillippi are coming off victory in last weekend’s VLN round, marking the 25-year-old Californian’s first win with BMW. Both drivers are making their Long Beach debuts. “I’ve been attending the Long Beach Grand Prix since I was a young boy, and now I’ll finally have a chance to be on track with our BMW M8 GTE,” De Phillippi said.

***Have a question for Mazda Motorsports director John Doonan? Post it on Twitter with the hashtag #askDoonan and it may be answered during tomorrow’s live FOX Sports broadcast of the race, which begins at 4 p.m. ET.

***Two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez has been named honorary starter, joining the previously announced grand marshal, Hollywood TV star Tom Ellis, for the race. World Champion Skimboarder Austin Keen will also be in attendance tomorrow.

***Tomy Drissi is taking part in this weekend’s Historic Trans Am Challenge in a 1970 Jim Hall Chaparral factory Camaro, which is one of three Chaparral Camaros to have competed in Trans Am. The car finished in the top-10 in every race it entered, with four fourth place finishes by Jim Hall and a solo victory by Vic Elford, which came at Watkins Glen.

***Drissi, who came close to a deal to run tomorrow’s race in BAR1 Motorsports’ Riley Mk. 30 Gibson, told Sportscar365 that he’s working on a potential deal with the Brian Alder-led team for its home round at Mid-Ohio, where the team could return to action. 

***BAR1 has been absent from the last two Prototype rounds since making its class debut in January’s season-opener at Daytona.

***Mazda Team Joest, Tequila Patron ESM and Porsche GT Team will be remaining on the West Coast for a single-day test at the newly named WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Tuesday. The CORE autosport-run Porsche squad, meanwhile, will head directly to Mid-Ohio on Wednesday for a two-day test, which will also see Acura Team Penske, JDC-Miller Motorsports and CORE’s Prototype team in attendance.

***IMSA teams have again been encouraged to run patriotic liveries during the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen weekend on June 29 – July 1. It marks the third consecutive year of the initiative from Watkins Glen International, with this year’s theme again honoring the nation’s military.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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