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Watkins Glen Pre-Race Notebook

Tony DiZinno’s pre-race notebook from Watkins Glen International…

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

***Michael Valiante led an incident-free 20-minute morning warmup, held under overcast skies but no rain ahead of today’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen. Patrick Pilet (GTLM), Mike Hedlund (PC) and Markus Palttala (GTD) led the other classes; 28 of 34 cars took times in the session, with several intentionally skipping the warmup. Times are linked here.

***The No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca FLM09, which won both at Daytona and Sebring, made it back out for morning warmup following a heavy incident for Mike Guasch on Saturday. The team spent all Saturday afternoon rebuilding the rear end of the car; Guasch and Tom Kimber-Smith took laps this morning and Guasch will start the race.

***Heading into today’s third round of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup, class points leaders took a trip down memory lane in Watkins Glen (photo above). The No. 3 Corvette C7.R and No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP crossed the Stone Bridge on the original 6.6-mile race course in Watkins Glen, N.Y, used from 1948 to 1952. PR1/Mathiasen’s No. 52 car and the No. 93 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R lead PC and GTD heading into the race.

***While son Graham won his first IndyCar race in seven years Saturday in Fontana, Calif., as did the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team, father Bobby Rahal has been in Watkins Glen all weekend with BMW Team RLL. The pair of BMW Z4 GTEs start second and third in GTLM today; there have been seven IndyCar races since the last GTLM race at Monterey on May 3.

***TRG-AMR North America heads into today’s race with high hopes, and great past history at Watkins Glen. The team has three past Watkins Glen wins (two GT, one DP), with the DP win 10 years ago a 1-2 finish in the rain. The team has two further fall race wins, plus three years competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, one year in the NASCAR Xfinity (then-Nationwide) Series and more than 50 total starts at the picturesque upstate New York road course.

***Rather impressively, the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda has completed its third weekend pre-qualifying practice sweep of the season. The team led all four pre-qualifying practices at Daytona, and three apiece at both Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and here at Watkins Glen.

***Both Ozz Negri, one of Shank’s drivers, and Action Express Racing’s Christian Fittipaldi agreed with IMSA’s decision to cancel qualifying in poor track conditions and with heavy rain Saturday. “It would have been risky to run; we would have lost a couple [cars],” Fittipaldi said. “It’s easy for me to say that because we’re starting first. Even if I was starting fourth, fifth, or sixth, I’d be OK with it.”

***Watch RSR Racing’s strategy play very closely in Prototype Challenge during the race, as the only PC class entrant with a two-driver lineup. Bruno Junqueira will start the No. 11 car, while the other six cars in class are starting drivers with either limited PC experience or a Silver or Bronze driver rating.

***BAR1 Motorsports’ Daniel Burkett is the only driver making his series debut this weekend. The young Canadian, a veteran of the Mazda Road to Indy and a current Pro Mazda driver with Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, got about 20 laps in on Friday and has quickly got on pace. He was due to qualify, and will start the No. 16 car. Together with 27-year-old Martin Plowman and 17-year-old Matt McMurry, 20-year-old Burkett completes one of the youngest lineups in the field.

***For the weekend, Continental Tire provides Prototype teams 15 sets (including dry/wet compounds), Prototype Challenge teams 10 sets, and GT Daytona teams 12 sets. It’s been a busy weekend for both compounds with dry running on Friday, then wet running on Saturday.

***Watch live flag-to-flag coverage of today’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen from 28, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1, and 2–4:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 2. Streaming is also expected to be available via the new IMSA App, and live radio coverage will be available via IMSA Radio.

***As ever, Andy Blackmore’s Spotter Guides remain one of the best ways to stay connected during the race. The Watkins Glen edition is linked here.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno) is Sportscar365's North American Editor, focusing on coverage of the IMSA-sanctioned championships as well as Pirelli World Challenge. DiZinno also contributes to and other motorsports outlets. Contact Tony


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