Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian’s Colin Braun was able to conserve his energy usage enough Sunday (July 9) in order to win the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Chevrolet Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park with teammate Tom Blomqvist. It is the team’s second win of the year, and one that is with far less controversy.
“It was tough. I knew that Filipe [Albuquerque] had pitted [after us], so he was good on fuel,” Braun told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum after the race. “It was all about getting … a good restart, get a good gap, then go into fuel saving mode.
“Once we got the [lapped] traffic, I knew we were going to be strong. I had gapped [Albuquerque] in the previous stint in traffic, and I knew if I could get there, I could pull away. Just super proud of this Meyer Shank Racing team.”
Braun and Blomqvist won under caution over Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport’s Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor. Watkins Glen winners Connor de Phillippi and Nick Yelloly were third in their BMW, followed by JDC-Miller MotorSports’ Mike Rockenfeller and Tijmen van der Helm in their customer Porsche 963. Porsche Penske Motorsport’s Mathieu Jaminet and Nick Tandy were fifth.
Blomqvist led from the pole, but Ricky Taylor was giving chase. Blomqvist was able to expand his lead up to three seconds prior to the first pit stop of the race. Blomqvist gave way here to Braun, who was able to hold Albuquerque off.
One of the scariest moments of the day occurred just before the halfway point and right near the overall leaders. WeatherTech Racing’s Jules Gounon and The Heart of Racing’s Ross Gunn were fighting for third in GTD Pro when Gounon got tight and tapped Gunn in turn 8.
Gunn’s Aston Martin spun out and went hard into the tire barriers to bring out the race’s first full course caution. Gunn was ok, but his Aston Martin was heavily damaged and out of the race. Gounon was given a penalty for avoidable contact.
During this caution, the leaders chose to pit. For MSR, they chose not to pit for the remainder of the race. The decision was made to go the rest of the way from there; nearly 78 minutes. Such a move would require a lot of fuel saving.
Albuquerque won the race off pit road and took the lead. He and the rest of the leaders made an additional pit stop 16 laps later. At that point, Ave Motorsports’ George Staikos had spun exiting turn 10. The series debutant had serious issues getting back underway after the crash and eventually stalled. There was enough time for everyone to pit before the yellow flew.
The entire complexion of the race should have changed with just under 40 minutes to go when Turner Motorsport’s Robby Foley and VasserSullivan’s Aaron Telitz collided in Moss Corner. Telitz spun out but was able to continue. Foley’s car ended up with broken steering, and it stalled to bring out the yellow.
It seemed like IMSA held off on calling the caution so that teams that needed to stop could do before the yellow. Even once the yellow flew, Braun chose not to stop and kept the lead with Albuquerque right behind him.
The green came back out with 24 minutes to go. Braun quickly opened up a three-second lead on Albuquerque. The goal was to try to get out as far as possible, then try to save fuel.
Ultimately, the race ended under yellow after contact between Chip Ganassi Racing’s Renger van der Zande and BMW M Team RLL’s Augusto Farfus at the end of the Mario Andretti Straightaway. The two drivers were fighting for eighth when contact was made that put van der Zande onto the grass.
After hitting the grass and plowing through a trackside placard, van der Zande slid through the entire paved runoff before going head-on into the tires. For van der Zande, it is the second big wreck for him in this chassis as it is the same car he crashed at Spa back in May.
Van der Zande was able to get out of his Cadillac VSeries.R under his own power. The Chip Ganassi Racing team will have a lot of work to get the car fixed up before the next race.
Riley Motorsports’ Gar Robinson started from pole in LMP3 and slowly opened up the gap on the remainder of the field. At first, his gap was just a few seconds. It eventually grew up to 20 seconds.
When Robinson gave way to Felipe Fraga, he had a 31-second lead and could simply maintain it. The caution brought the rest of the class back to him.
In the second half of the race, Fraga had to do battle with Jr III Racing’s Garret Grist. Grist was able to get past for the lead during the second round of stops.
In the closing laps, Fraga ran Grist back down and battled hard for the lead. With just under seven minutes to go, Fraga got to the inside of Grist entering turn 10. Contact was made and Grist ended up being pushed off the road as Fraga retook the lead.
IMSA officials chose not to take action against Fraga for the contact. As a result, he was able to hold on until the van der Zande crash to take the win. It is Fraga and Robinson’s third straight, and it expands their points lead.
Grist and Ari Balogh had to settle for second, while Andrew Wojteczko Autosport’s Wayne Boyd and Anthony Mantella were third. Matt Bell and Orey Fidani were fourth in the second AWA entry, while Sean Creech Motorsports’ Dr. Lance Willsey and Joao Barbosa were fifth.
The GTD Pro class was dominated at the start by VasserSullivan, as Jack Hawksworth started from the pole and opened up a decent gap on the pack.
Hawksworth kept his advantage all the way to the first round of stops, where Ben Barnicoat got in the car. Pfaff Motorsports’ Klaus Bachler stayed out for a couple of extra laps before making his stop.
The caution for Gunn’s crash put Barnicoat and Bachler’s teammate Patrick Pilet nose-to-tail for the restart. On that restart, Pilet made a move to the inside in turn 1 for the lead.
Neither driver yielded the position, and both went wide into the runoff and into the grass. Both drivers maintained control, but the off-course excursion caused an overheating problem for Barnicoat. An unscheduled pit stop ultimately resulted in the car going behind the wall.
Meanwhile, Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia was right behind the battle and took advantage of both drivers going off the road to take the lead for himself. Once out front, Garcia opened up a small advantage.
Unlike Barnicoat, Pilet’s Porsche was not negatively affected by the trip through the crash. After a few laps, he was able to run down Garcia and pressure him for the lead. However, Garcia was able to hold off Pilet’s charges to take his and Jordan Taylor’s first victory since Sebring last year.
Pilet and Bachler ended up second, while Gounon and Daniel Juncadella were third. Barnicoat and Hawksworth ended up 22 laps down in fourth.
Snow ran a strong race before handing over to teammate Bryan Sellers. Sellers was able to maintain the advantage through the final caution of the race.
On the final restart, Winward Racing’s Philip Ellis was right behind and had the opportunity to strike. However, a couple of laps after the final restart, Ellis cut his left rear tire and had to pit. Ellis and Russell Ward ended up finishing 10th in class.
Sellers and Snow ended up holding on for their second win of the year. Inception Racing’s Brendan Iribe and Frederic Schandorff were second in their McLaren, while third was Team Korthoff Motorsports’ Mikael Grenier and Mike Skeen. DeAngelis and Marco Sorensen were fourth, while Turner Motorsport’s Bill Auberlen and Chandler Hull were fifth in a spare chassis after Auberlen’s flip at Watkins Glen.
From there on, there is a split schedule for WeatherTech teams. The next race on the schedule is the FCP Euro Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park on July 22. That is a GT-only race. Coverage of that race will air live on USA Network at Noon E.T. Frontstretch will be on-site to bring you all the action. The prototype classes will all return at Road America on Aug. 6.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.
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