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Long Beach Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday IMSA notebook from Long Beach…

Photo: Bob Chapman/Ford

***Helio Castroneves’ pole time shattered the Long Beach lap qualifying record by more than 1.5 seconds, with ten of the 11 DPi competitors under the previous record by Acura Team Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya. 

***Five of the eight GT Le Mans qualifiers, meanwhile, were also under that category’s previous record, accounting for 15 of the 19 total cars set for Saturday’s Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach.

***Castroneves collected his fourth Long Beach pole in the last five years, after claiming top qualifying honors in IndyCar competition from 2015-17. “If you take away Indianapolis, this is very much my favorite place,” he said.

***A handful of cars rebounded from incidents in the pair of practice sessions earlier in the day, including both JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi-V.Rs, which found the walls in Session 1 and the No. 67 Ford GT, which had an accident with Ryan Briscoe late in the session.

***Splitter damage was sustained to the No. 85 JDC-Miller Cadillac DPi, according to team principal John Church, which was followed by another off by Misha Goikhberg in the second practice session but with no damage sustained.

***The biggest accident of the day came with Jonathan Bomarito nosing the No. 55 Team Joest Mazda RT24-P into the barriers during qualifying after clipping the inside wall, causing steering damage to the Multimatic-built prototype. 

***Scott Dixon revealed that he received a call from Chip Ganassi to potentially fill Joey Hand’s seat in the No. 66 Ford GT this weekend. “I said call me back if you get stuck,” the Kiwi said after topping Friday’s NTT IndyCar Series practice. The team ultimately opted for Sebastien Bourdais, who is part of the No. 66’s lineup for the endurance races.

***Jordan Taylor said that his family vacation in Hawaii was extended due to his emergency appendectomy in Honolulu. “We ended up having three extra days in Hawaii, so it was awesome to recover there,” he told Sportscar365. “The flight was nerve-wracking still, but I got up on the plane and walked up and down just to get more walking in.”

***Sportscar365 understands that Fernando Alonso was in initial consideration as a substitute driver for Taylor, although the team ultimately decided on fellow Rolex 24 winner Kamui Kobayashi, who is here this weekend on standby.

***A total of 13 drivers have competed in every WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race to date, corresponding to their season-long class: Ricky and Jordan Taylor, Antonio Garcia, Tommy Milner, Oliver Gavin, John Edwards, Renger van der Zande, Richard Westbrook, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Andy Lally, Dane Cameron, Bryan Sellers and Eric Curran.

***Curran’s 52-race streak comes to an end this weekend, with Whelen Engineering Racing’s new full-season pairing of Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani.

***The McLaren 720S GT3, which is set for its WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut in the next round at Mid-Ohio, has already completed IMSA’s mandated dyno testing for its initial Balance of Performance in the GT Daytona class.

***IMSA tech chief Geoff Carter told Sportscar365 they are also working with the FIA, which has data from the car’s wind tunnel homologation session, and observed Compass Racing’s recent test with the car at Mid-Ohio.

***McLaren is the 19th different manufacturer in IMSA competition, comprised between the WeatherTech Championship and Michelin Pilot Challenge. It will become the ninth different brand represented in GTD. 

***Acura’s process of assuming the title sponsorship of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach has been about 65 days of “whirlwind, hurricane speed” to get everything in order, according to Acura Vice President and Brand Officer Jon Ikeda, who is among the top-level Honda and Acura executives on-site this weekend. 

***Ikeda said they will look to add Acura’s own brand identity to the 45-year-old event, which had been previously sponsored by Toyota. “We’re an innovative company,” he said. “We want to look into the future. We feel that we could add new things and dimensions to what this race has been about. It’s a great foundation to build on, to move forward.”

***AIM Vasser Sullivan driver Aaron Telitz has been embedded with the Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan NTT IndyCar Series team this weekend. Telitz is confirmed for the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup races with the No. 12 Lexus RC F GT3. “IndyCar is where I want to be and where I feel I belong,” Telitz said.

***CORE autosport team manager Brian Colangelo created “Nerd” shirts, inspired by Dr. Seuss’ Thing 1 and Thing 2 from the “Cat in the Hat”, to help identify its expanded lineup of engineers on the No. 54 Nissan DPi. Race engineer Jeff Braun (Nerd 1) and data engineer Tyler Neff (Nerd 2) have been joined by systems engineer Lee Szczypski (Nerd 3) and engine engineer Henry Hsu (Nerd 4) this year. 

***Colangelo said the majority of the crew are now fly-ins, partially due to the hire of several ex-Extreme Speed Motorsports crew that had worked with the Ligier Automotive-built DPi in previous years.

***EA Sports’ Real Racing 3 has expanded its lineup to include DPi machinery from Cadillac, Acura and Mazda, joining the collection of GT Daytona class cars that were added to the popular mobile game earlier this year.

***The Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach gets underway Saturday at 2 p.m. PT, with live coverage on NBCSN, as well as on IMSA Radio and for international viewers.

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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