By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin — After finishing last of all cars still running at the recent Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park, Patrick Long made a statement by claiming the GT Daytona pole ahead of Sunday’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America for the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship.
Long set his fast lap early in the session going around the 4.048 mile natural terrain road course with a fastest lap of 2 minutes, 6.593 seconds to average 115.115 mph in the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
The session had a red flag after the No. 51 Squadra Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 went off track into the tire barrier and the Porsche held off all comers.
“It was an interesting session, red flags played a big part,” said Long. “The key was getting our lap in early. We didn’t plan on the probability of red or yellow in qualifying but because of the increased heat since this morning’s practice three, we pressured up (the tires) and thought to maximize the peak of the tires it was going to be a short run so that played into our hands.”
Behind Long is Dominik Baumann’s No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3, Madison Snow’s No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 and Cooper MacNeil’s No. 63 Ferrari 488 GT3.
The team were second in the Saturday morning practice session and even though this is the team’s second pole in a row, pole position doesn’t guarantee success.
Long and co-driver Christina Nielsen are looking to turn their luck around at Road America after their disastrous finish at Lime Rock after a left rear tire problem made the car handle so poorly that in the final 30 laps, Long fell from third to eighth.
“It’s been a turbulent season for the 58 car,” said Long. “Not going to beat around the bush, it’s been disappointing, but a racer learns that all you can do is shift your focus to the next session on track and not get tied up in the ego side of it. But its extremely competitive, it’s tight out there, one slip up in the pits or on track and your podium is long gone.”
The No. 85 JDC/Miller Motorsports ORECA LMP2 qualified on the overall pole and the No. 66 Ford GT won the pole in GTLM.