It took six practice sessions to finally record the fastest lap of Grand-Am’s Indianapolis Motor Speedway test this weekend, but that was a good thing.
Indicative of a track obviously offering increased traction thanks to layers of tire rubber building up – despite-100 degree temperatures – there was a flurry of changes atop the Rolex Series lap chart in Saturday’s late-afternoon session that completed the test. When the revolving door of leaders stopped, Ricky Taylor had the honors in his No. 10 SunTrust Racing Corvette DP, with a 108.649 mph lap (1 minute, 23.962 seconds) around the 2.534-mile road course.
Saturday wrapped up a highly anticipated two-day visit for Grand-Am’s Rolex Series and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, in preparation for back-to-back Indy debuts on July 27. The Rolex Series event – the Brickyard Grand Prix – will be the finale of the North American Endurance Championship (NAEC) presented by VISITFLORIDA.com. The inaugural NAEC is a three-race special competition encompassing the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, last week’s 6-hour Watkins Glen race and Indianapolis.
SunTrust is amid a somewhat disappointing season, despite two wins. Of course, another win, at Indy, could soothe that considerably. This weekend, the No. 10 team established itself as one of the Brickyard Grand Prix favorites.
“The track was ‘rubbering up’ a good bit, and the speeds kept getting faster even though the temperatures were climbing,” said Taylor, who co-drives with Max Angelelli. “This means a lot to us, especially with our team being based in Indy. We’re really looking forward to coming back for the race.”
In the Rolex Series’ production-based GT class, the best test lap was turned in Eric Curran in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Chevrolet Corvette, 99.857 mph (1:31.355). Curran co-drives with Boris Said.
“Mini” Test Set For Monday, For Several Rolex Series Teams
A number of cars weren’t able to test on Friday and Saturday due to other driver commitments, most notably the No. 02 Chevron BMW-Riley of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. The No. 02 will be a special “one-off” entry in the Brickyard Grand Prix, aiding Ganassi’s efforts to win the North American Endurance Championship. The car’s drivers – Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya – were a bit busy during the weekend, racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event held Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway.
As a result of that conflict – and several others – Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Grand-Am arranged for an extra test day for a few teams, scheduled for Monday.
“Indy was very accommodating on this, which we appreciate,” said Rolex Series Manager Gary Cummings. “Everybody understands the importance of this event for us.”
In addition to McMurray and Montoya, others drivers/teams rolling in on Monday: Antonio Garcia in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP; Michael Valiente and Chris Cumming in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley; and Alex Popow and Luca Luhr in the No. 2 Ford-Riley of Starworks Motorsport.