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WeatherTech Championship

Road Atlanta Friday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Friday notebook from Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta…

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

***Acura Team Penske rolls into Motul Petit Le Mans having won at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta just last month with Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor. That was the ninth win for Acura Motorsports/HPD at the circuit dating back to 1991 when Parker Johnstone drove a Comptech Racing-entered Acura Spice SE90P to victory in IMSA Camel Lights competition.

***The marque got the weekend off to a strong start by taking pole in both the DPi and GT Daytona classes. Dane Cameron led an Acura ARX-05 sweep of the front row in qualifying for Acura Team Penske. It marked the fourth consecutive DPi pole for the team.

***Shinya Michimi scored his first career WeatherTech Championship pole in the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo that he shares with GTD championship leaders Mario Farnbacher and Matt McMurry.

***Michimi credited his teammates with help getting up to speed with the car ahead of his third start of the year with the team. The trio of Michimi, Farnbacher, and McMurry won last month in the championship’s first stop at Road Atlanta.

***Qualifying saw track records fall in DPi and in both of the GT classes courtesy of Cameron, Michimi, and Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia, who put the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R on pole for the third consecutive event.

***Garcia’s co-driver Jordan Taylor admitted on IMSA Radio that he was somewhat surprised by the outright pace of the Corvette this weekend, noting the team had chosen to focus their development on improving tire wear and long-run pace rather than pure speed during a recent test at Road Atlanta.

***Tommy Milner said his No. 4 Corvette was close to perfect when it first hit the track this weekend following extensive repairs necessitated by a hard crash last weekend at the Charlotte Roval race. It was determined that the accident was caused by a breakage of a right-rear suspension component that was near the end of its life cycle.

***All four category pole times were quicker than the best corresponding qualifying efforts set ahead of last month’s IMSA six-hour round at Road Atlanta.

***Team Hardpoint will be moving to a new 10,000 square-foot headquarters at VIR in the coming weeks from its current shop in Fayetteville, N.C. According to the team, the move “will provide benefits for Team Hardpoint’s IMSA WeatherTech GTD program as well as future expansions.”

***One of the programs operating out of Hardpoint’s new facility will be its tie-up with Earl Bamber Motorsport to run multiple cars in Porsche Carrera Cup North America. Will Bamber has been serving as Hardpoint’s team manager since August.

***Pfaff Motorsports team principal Steve Bortolotti told Sportscar365 that his team is “thrilled to be back” in the IMSA paddock after missing the last seven GTD rounds due to cross-border travel restrictions from Canada to the U.S.

***Bortolotti said the core Pfaff business has been “staying busy” despite its lack of racing with the plaid Porsche 911 GT3 R.

“We’ve been doing some TCR in Canada and a lot of customer regional work, coaching and lapping days,” he said. “We sold a bunch of new Porsche 911 GT2s and GT4 Clubsports, so the business has been strong in Canada, just because of the lack of being able to be at the track.”

***Pfaff driver Zachary Vanier won five out of six races to take the Canadian Touring Car Championship driver’s crown this season for the team.

***Veteran Ferrari pilot Jeff Segal is serving as a spotter for the WeatherTech-sponsored Scuderia Corsa team this weekend.

***IMSA President John Doonan spent Thursday’s night practice session serving as a pit lane official, complete with firesuit and helmet. Doonan told Sportscar365 that he was immersing himself in as many aspects of the championship as he could in his first year on the job.

***Doonan took the responsibility seriously, saying that he did issue a reminder to one team for failing to adhere to proper pit lane protocol during the practice.

***Bill Auberlen and Robby Foley, joined by BMW factory driver Bruno Spengler, celebrated their win on the Charlotte Roval last Saturday by playing a round of golf on Sunday before driving down to Road Atlanta together early this week.

***Kyle Kirkwood, who is making his WeatherTech Championship debut this weekend in the No. 12 Lexus RC F GT3 for AIM Vasser Sullivan, wrapped up his the IMSA Prototype Challenge season alongside co-driver Joel Janco on Saturday in what was the final race in Janco’s decades-long career.

***Kirkwood said he has enjoyed working with Janco as a driver coach and noted that he had learned a lot in return about the stock market from his 72-year-old teammate. A ninth-place result on Friday was enough to secure Janco third in the championship in his last season of professional racing.

***Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama veteran David Baker made his 100th start in the series in Race 2 on Friday. While Baker failed to finish, he got to wave the checkered flag to end the race and was presented with a trophy on the podium to commemorate his achievement.

***The 23rd running of Motul Petit Le Mans is set to begin at 12:40 p.m. local time. Live NBC Sports television coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. on NBCSN and continues until 6:30 p.m. before shifting to NBCSports.com. NBCSN’s coverage picks up again from 9:30 p.m. until the end of the race. The race can be streamed in its entirety with an NBC Gold Track Pass subscription.

***Additionally, IMSA Radio will have live audio coverage globally on IMSA.com and Sirius XM Radio (Sirius channel 217, XM 202 and Internet 972), as well as accompanying video for viewers outside the US.

John Dagys and Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

Ryan Myrehn is an Indianapolis-based broadcaster and reporter. In addition to his work covering primarily domestic sports car racing for Sportscar365, he is a pit reporter for SRO America's TV coverage as well as for IndyCar Radio. Myrehn, a graduate of DePauw University, is also the host of Sportscar365's “Double Stint” Podcast.

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