***Harry Gottsacker celebrated his 18th birthday on Friday, capped off by claiming pole for Saturday’s GTS Race 1 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The Performance Motorsports Group driver, who recently earned his Eagle Scout badge, is back for a second-consecutive race weekend in Pirelli World Challenge after spending most of the early part of the season racing in British GT.
***Also celebrating a birthday on Friday was American Porsche factory ace Patrick Long. The Californian qualified fifth in the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R in a very competitive qualifying session on Friday.
***Count Ryan Dalziel as being one of the drivers most happy to be racing at Mid-Ohio this weekend. The Scot won four straight PWC races at the track in 2014 and 2015 when driving for EFFORT Racing, starting on pole for all but one of those events. Dalziel qualified seventh for Race 1 in the No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 in his first trip back to the track since his wins in 2015.
***K-PAX Racing driver Bryan Sellers is back at Mid-Ohio for the first time since the 2012 American Le Mans Series season and was all smiles about making a return to one of his favorite tracks. Sellers, who hails from nearby Dayton, will start sixth on Saturday at his home circuit.
***Alec Udell hopes previous experience at Mid-Ohio will help him in his first GT class start at the circuit this weekend. The 21-year-old raced in the Spec-Miata class in the 2011 and 2012 NASA National Championships when they were held at the track, and he won both races in GT Cup at Mid-Ohio last year and scored a win and a second place in the class in 2015, in addition to previous GTS experience.
***SRO Motorsports Group CEO Stephane Ratel said he’s been pleased with the progression made in PWC this season. Ratel spoke of the series during SRO’s annual press conference at Spa on Friday. “It’s progressing step by step,” Ratel told Sportscar365. “We had to have SprintX succeed and it’s going well. BoP is going well and now the California 8 Hours looks like it’s a success. That’s already three big milestones put together.”
***While the provisional PWC schedule was released last year at Spa, the 2018 calendar is not expected to be due out until the SprintX season-ending round at Circuit of The Americas in September.
***The Intercontinental GT Challenge will again feature Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on its calendar next year, with the California 8 Hours scheduled for Oct. 20-21, 2018. It has been moved one week later than this year’s inaugural event in order to avoid a clash with the Petit Le Mans, which Ratel said has changed dates.
***Saturday’s races can be streamed live for free on www.motortrendondemand.com and world-challenge.com/streamvideo. Saturday’s GTS Round 11 is scheduled for 10:55 a.m. ET, while the GT/GTA/GT Cup Sprint series race will start at 4:45 p.m ET.
***The CBS Sports Network telecast of the GTS action from this weekend is set for Wednesday, August 9th at 7 p.m. ET.
John Dagys contributed to this report.