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Long Beach Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday notebook ahead of tomorrow’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

***Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani have closed their DPi points deficit from 98 to 89 points to the Wayne Taylor Racing duo of Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque after claiming pole for Saturday’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. “It was super important to get pole position and keep the fight alive. But the main focus is on tomorrow’s race,” said Nasr.

***Meyer Shank Racing continued its struggling form on Friday with an accident by Olivier Pla in opening practice that ruled the team’s No. 60 Acura ARX-05 out of the majority of the second session as the team made repairs. Dane Cameron joined the session with 15 minutes to go only to spin with two minutes remaining to bring out a second consecutive session-ending red flag for the car. Cameron qualified the car in fourth.

***The No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 received an eight-minute stop-and-hold penalty in Practice 2 for having an improperly rated driver during the Am-restricted portion of the session. Gold-rated Bill Auberlen was behind the wheel at the time that was reserved for Silver or Bronze-rated drivers only.

***This weekend marks the 15th anniversary of GMG Racing’s first Long Beach entry, dating back to 2006 when the Santa Ana, Calif.-based team entered a Porsche 996 Cup car in World Challenge competition. 

***GMG is debuting an essentially brand-new Porsche 911 GT3 R chassis this weekend, which was acquired by driver Kyle Washington from a team in Asia during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Washington also owns a second Porsche that he utilizes in GT America powered by AWS competition.

***The same chassis will be used in next month’s Indianapolis 8 Hour, which will see former Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli champion Dennis Olsen join Washington and team principal James Sofronas at the wheel of the Pro-Am class entry.

***The recently released NTT IndyCar Series schedule sees six date clashes with next year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship calendar, including the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, with a race at Texas Motor Speedway on the Sunday after the 12-hour. The Sebring/Texas clash is likely to limit the typical IndyCar-to-IMSA driver crossover in the race.

***Paddock rumors have indicated that Chip Ganassi Racing could field a second Cadillac DPi-V.R beginning as early as November’s season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans ahead of a full-season program in 2022.

***A number of drivers are understood to be in the frame for the drives including Alex Lynn, Earl Bamber and Sebastien Bourdais. Up to three full-season seats will need to be filled should the second car materialize. Renger van der Zande is currently the only confirmed CGR driver for next year.

***While remaining a single-car team for the next two seasons, Wayne Taylor Racing could expand into a two-car Acura LMDh operation in 2024, in the first year of its expected contract extension with the luxury automaker. Team owner Wayne Taylor declined to comment when reached by Sportscar365.

***Both WTR and MSR are currently in the first of three-year deals with Acura that will extend into the first year of the LMDh era in 2023.

***Honda Performance Development is having discussions with “another potential full-time team” for 2022 in the GTD class according to Acura NSX GT3 project manager Lee Niffenegger.

***Sportscar365 believes it could be longtime World Challenge entrant RealTime Racing, which had attempted to put together a Michelin Endurance Cup-only program this year with Compass Racing’s Acura NSX GT3 Evo chassis.

***Acura elected against utilizing the NSX GT3 Evo22 for the recently announced Type S production model due to a number of reasons according to Niffenegger, who cited the level of homologation work required and cost of new and replacement bodywork for existing customer teams as well as the fact that the Type S will only be sold in the U.S. and Japanese markets.

***The NSX GT3 runs under the Honda nameplate in various European GT championships, which will not have Type S production model.

***Shell/Pennzoil announced a technical partnership with HPD for both its Acura sports car programs and Honda IndyCar efforts through at least 2023. The partnership is understood to have begun earlier this year and helped take WTR to victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

***Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Rai Benjamin will serve as the grand marshal for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, with the track and field star set to give the command to start engines at 2 p.m. PT. Benjamin took home the silver medal in the 400-meter hurdles.

***NBCSN will carry live coverage of the 100-minute race starting Saturday at 5 p.m. ET. Leigh Diffey will return to the booth on-site alongside Calvin Fish and Townsend Bell with Marty Snider and Kevin Lee on pit lane. IMSA Radio will provide off-site coverage with John Hindhaugh, Jeremy Shaw and Shea Adam.

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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