IMSA WeatherTech Championship

Ten Years on, Taylor Claims Another Watkins Glen Pole

He Hopes to Repeat Pole-to-Win Feat from 2011 for Wayne Taylor Racing

By Jeff Olson
IMSA Wire Service

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – It’s been 10 years since Wayne Taylor Racing won the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. Ricky Taylor took the first step toward ending that drought Saturday afternoon.

Taylor won the Motul Pole Award for Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen International with a lap of 1 minute, 30.022 seconds (135.966 mph) in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura DPi ARX-05 around the 11-turn, 3.4-mile circuit.

That was enough for Taylor and teammates Filipe Albuquerque and Alexander Rossi to claim the top starting position in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class and start first overall when the green flag waves at 10:40 a.m. ET Sunday.

“I feel really good about our lineup and our team,” said Taylor, whose only previous Watkins Glen pole also came in 2011. “Everybody has been executing well. We just need to put the pieces together and hopefully we can get a 10th-anniversary win for the team.”

Taylor’s lap was 0.119 seconds faster than Dane Cameron’s best in the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura that he’ll co-drive with Olivier Pla. Renger van der Zande was third fastest at 1:30.637 in the No. 01 Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi V.R he shares with Kevin Magnussen.

Even though it’s a six-hour endurance race, Taylor reiterated the importance of starting ahead of everyone else.

“The way these races go and the way this track flows, track position … is so important here,” Taylor said. “It helps you to control the race. As far as strategy goes, it makes it a little more difficult because you don’t want to be the first one to make decisions, but we wouldn’t trade the pole for anything.”

Cameron pointed to minor mistakes on his fastest lap but, like Taylor, is pleased to start on the front row.

“I made a couple of small mistakes on the quick lap, and I think that made a difference,” Cameron said. “So I am a little disappointed on that, but overall we’ve had a good, competitive weekend so far and we’ve got a good car. Six hours is a long time, and I think there will be some different weather conditions to come, so we will see how we get along.”

Thomas’ Last-Ditch Effort Nets LMP2 Pole

In Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2), Steven Thomas made his final lap his fastest to bump Ben Keating from the top starting position. Thomas, who will co-drive the No. 11 WIN Autosport ORECA LMP2 07 with Tristan Nunez and Thomas Merrill, was clocked at 1:35.304 (128.431 mph), beating Keating by just 0.018 seconds.

Thomas got the news of what was needed to win the LMP2 pole just as he started his last lap.

“As I came across start-finish, they told me I needed four-tenths (of a second) to be on pole,” he said. “I knew I had to get after it that lap, and we just barely made it in.”

Thomas will start eighth overall in the 40-car race, while Keating and teammates Mikkel Jensen and Scott Huffaker will start ninth in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA. Dwight Merriman was third fastest in LMP2 in the No. 18 Era Motorsport ORECA.

Former Prototype Challenge Champion McCusker Takes LMP3 Honors

Austin McCusker took the No. 1 starting position in Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) with a lap of 1:40.404 (121.907 mph) in the No. 2 United Autosports USA Ligier JS P320. McCusker will team with Niklas Kruetten and Edouard Cauhaupe.

“Everyone’s been working well, and we’ve been chipping away every time,” said McCusker, the 2019 IMSA Prototype Challenge champion. “It’s a tough field in LMP3, but we’re happy to start from the front. Traffic will be a big thing tomorrow, so we just have to remind ourselves to stay clean and be there at the end.”

Live flag-to-flag streaming coverage of Sunday’s race begins at 10:30 a.m. ET on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports App. Outside the U.S., the race can be viewed at IMSA.com/TVLive. IMSA Radio also has complete coverage. The NBCSN race telecast starts at 7 p.m.

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