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The Road Racing Weekend

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On: Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 6:05PM | By: John Welch


The Road Racing Weekend

Sports cars aplenty this weekend, the American Le Mans Series is sharing the track with the IzodIndyCar Series, and the Rolex Grand Am Series will tackle Watkins Glen on Saturday, before NASCAR rolls in for their annual trip to the Glen. Grand Am won't start qualifying until noon-forty-five tomorrow, while the ALMS handled qualifications today.

There is lots of news involving prototypes and driver swaps and wrecks and general sports car zaniness. Let's dive right in with more Lola news.

Roush/Yates Engines has signed a contract to provide Lola Cars with purpose-built EcoBoost engines for new 2011 Lola chassis. The liter twin-turbo V6 will be built at the Roush Yates factory in Mooresville, North Carolina. The Ford EcoBoost LMP engine is designed to be a low maintenence, high mileage alternative to more exotic power plants from HPD (Honda Performance Development) and others. Lowering costs even further, this engine will be offered as a standard installation unit for Lola's 2011 LMP2-ish contender, the B11/40. If the 2011 engines function well and prove to be popular alternatives for LMP2-spec prototypes, Roush Yates may begin development on a Ford Coyote-based power plant. The Coyote, if you're not familiar, is the instantly legnedary 5.0 mill stuffed into 2011 Mustang GTs.

This isn't the first time a Yates engine has found its way into a Lola chassis. The Kremer Team ran Yates V8s in their Lolas in 2000, taking wins at Spa Francochamps and Kyalami. Both companies are excited about next season, and I am getting excited about all these turbo-equipped prototypes we may see next season.

More roadracingcrack inside the post . ..

We have seen the first prototype to abide by 2011 regulations hit the track at Mid-Ohio, and speaking of "hit" that is probably what Chris Dyson would like to do to the new team's seemingly hapless drivers. The car is dubbed the Radical SR9/IES and it is a highly developed Ginetta/Zytek chassis. IES is a well known builder of Nissan-based race engines, and is supplying a 4.0 liter varient of the now ubiquitous Nissan DOHC V8. I don't think Chris Dyson gives two Holy Effs, however, as the new LMP severely blocked the racing line while Dyson was turning a hot lap in qualifying. The incident happened at the entrance to pit road, directly following the most important "momentum" section of Mid-Ohio. This blunder effectively ruined two laps for Dyson; he must be upset. Adding insult to injury, Dyson ran another set of laps, on the tires that his Lola has to wear at the beginning of tomorrow's race. When it rains, it pours.

Speaking of qualifying, Johnny Cocker was able to turn the fastest lap time in the prototype division, giving Drayson racing its first pole in an American Le Mans Series race. Good on them; the Drayson Team has been an excellent addition to the ALMS field.

Qualifying was short one important entry today, the CytoSport Racing Porsche RS Spyder. Team owner Greg Pickett destroyed the front suspension yesterday, a miserable disapointment following the team's first overall victory last race at Lime Rock. Toni Vilander took the GT pole in the Risi Ferrari he shares with Giancarlo Fisichella, former F1 star, who had brief stint with Ferrari at the end of last year's F1 season. It's great to have any ex-F1 ace in the ALMS field, but Giancarlo is truly a class act that fits perfectly in the ALMS.

On the Grand Am front (err, rather—"And for all things owned by the France family!"), Scott Pruett may sit in for Jeff Gordon during the NASCAR race on Sunday. Gordon is expecting his second child sometime around Monday and may have to leave the track at a moment's notice. Congratulations, Gordo, and good luck to Scott,if he is called to drive!

This is what Gordon had to say about Pruett: "I thought of him and I don't know what kind of brought that to my mind, but I've always been a huge fan of Scott's (Pruett). I can remember as a kid going to the go-kart nationals in Quincy, Illinois. I think I was 12 or something and he was the man. He was the rock star and super fast. I think he probably won that year as well. I've always known Scott and looked up to him in that way and followed his career. At Daytona I went and found him in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series garage, and I just said, ‘Hey, would you be interested.' He said, ‘I definitely have an interest; let me talk to Chip (Ganassi).' I thought that would squash it right there. To all of our surprise, Chip was very supportive of it and came back and said, ‘Yeah, it would be great,' and I think it was very cool. We're very excited to have Scott here this weekend."

Mr. Pruett's regular gig, the Rolex Grand Am Series, will own Watkins Glen tomorrow. Qualifying for the Crown Royal 200 at The Glen will begin at 12:45 EST, and can be viewed through Speedtv.com. The race begins at six, and will be broadcast on SPEED. (Channel 112 fo' me!)


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