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Watkins Glen Saturday Notebook

John Dagys’ Saturday notebook from Watkins Glen International…

Photo: IMSA

***Vasser Sullivan Racing became the first team and entry to sweep GT Daytona qualifying in the new-for-2021 two-stage format. Kyle Kirkwood claimed the class pole in the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 while Jack Hawksworth set the quickest time in Q2 to claim maximum qualifying points.

***Kirkwood, in his first-ever IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying attempt, said earning pole is “crucial” for track position despite being a six-hour race. The No. 14 Lexus is looking to bounce back after several unlucky breaks in recent races.

***DPi pole-sitter Ricky Taylor said their decision to add Alexander Rossi, a former winner at Watkins Glen in NTT IndyCar Series competition, to the lineup came because of the “physical” nature of the weekend with the load on drivers and the heat factor.

“When you’ve got two [drivers]… Every time you’re in the car you have to save a little to make sure you’re sharp at the end,” said Taylor. “Our approach is to use up each driver each time. When it gets to the end, whoever’s getting in has had a big rest. I think having that mental sharpness is going to count.”

***The No. 55 Mazda RT24-P is undergoing an engine change following qualifying and will start from the rear of the DPi field as a result. Mazda Motorsports program manager Mo Murray told Sportscar365 that the change has been as a precautionary measure. 

***Paul Miller Racing’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo is also changing engines prior to the race after Bryan Sellers suffered an unexpected loss of power during his qualifying run. 

“It worked for us in Detroit to do the swap, and with such a long race tomorrow, we’re just not willing to take the chance again after Bryan’s issue in qualifying,” said team manager Mitchell Simmons.

***Renger van der Zande told Sportscar365 that it’s not a surprise to see Acura sweep the front row in qualifying. The Dutchman put the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R third on the grid.

“We’ve come from a second behind to a half-second behind now,” he said. “It’s an improvement from two years ago. But everyone knew we wouldn’t be fighting for fastest laps here.”

***Dawson Racing is utilizing several female crew from Paretta Autosport’s Indianapolis 500 effort this weekend as part of the team’s diversity project. The common link comes from PR representative Barbara Burns, who works with both teams.

***Dawson, which is making its long-awaited WeatherTech Championship debut, is leasing a Ligier JS P320 Nissan from Ligier Automotive North America as it was unable to source parts to upgrade its previous-gen Ligier JS P3, which is also on-site this weekend.

***Ian Dawson told Sportscar365 they have extended their licensing agreement with Hasbro, creators of the Transformers franchise, through 2025.

***PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports could expand into a two-car LMP2 operation before the end of the season according to team principal Bobby Oergel, who told Sportscar365 they have additional races “in the works” for Bronze-rated driver Patrick Kelly.

***Oergel also revealed the team has also begun a “unique” testing program with a young driver that’s being primed for a seat in the future.

***Next week’s WeatherTech 240 will see a 31-car entry, down from the 38 cars that are taking part in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen this weekend.

***Among the teams electing not to take part include the Michelin Endurance Cup-only entries from Action Express Racing, Era Motorsport and BMW Team RLL as well as the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R and No. 44 Magnus Racing by Archangel Acura NSX GT3 Evo, which had both skipped the other WeatherTech Sprint Cup-only round at Detroit earlier this month.

***The No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche, which also opted out of Detroit, however, will be present for the two-hour and 40-minute race on Friday, as well the Sprint Cup-only GTD Acuras from Compass Racing and Gradient Racing, which are not racing this weekend.

***United Autosports team owner/managing director Richard Dean told Sportscar365 they had initially considered staying on for the second Watkins Glen race with its LMP2 and LMP3 entries but were unable to juggle the event with its already-scheduled pre-Le Mans test at Monza next weekend. 

***Despite having set up a U.S. base in Florida, the team is still largely utilizing British crew for its WeatherTech Championship program.

***One late addition for the WeatherTech 240 is the Gilbert Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo for Guy Cosmo and Shane Lewis that will run selected races this year ahead of a full-season GTD program in 2022.

***In a last-minute programming change, NBCSN will carry live coverage of the WeatherTech 240 on Friday at 6 p.m. ET.

***It was announced this week that Lars Kern broke the Nürburgring road car track record with a Porsche 911 GT2 RS fitted with a Manthey Performance Kit. Kern’s 6:43.300 lap time, set on June 14, was nearly five seconds faster than the previous record of 6:48.047 set by a Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series last year.

***Kern has returned to Pfaff’s lineup this weekend alongside full-season drivers Laurens Vanthoor and Zach Robichon.

***A new three-volume book chronicling the history of Brumos will soon be released. Authored by Sean Cridland, the 1,500-page collection, featuring a forward by Roger Penske and including more than 2,000 photos, will be available in the Brumos Edition ($559.59), Numbered Collector’s Edition ($959.59) and Ultimate Artist’s Edition. Click Here for more information.

***Live coverage of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen will be available on Trackpass on NBC Sports Gold and the NBC Sports App beginning at 10:30 a.m. ET, with a three-hour cut-down show starting Sunday at 7 p.m. following the day’s NASCAR action. 

***Kevin Lee will be in the booth alongside Calvin Fish, Brian Till and Townsend Bell, with Parker Kligerman and Dillon Welch on pit road.

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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