ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – If qualifying times are an indication, Sunday’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race at Road America is guaranteed to continue a trend of breath-taking finishes at the 4.048-mile road course.
Ryan Dalziel’s final qualifying lap of 1 minute, 55.166 seconds (126.537 mph) sent him to the top of the speed chart for the Prototype (P) class and secured the TOTAL Pole Award for the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase.
“The track changed over the last couple of sessions,” said Dalziel, shortly after winning the second consecutive pole position for himself, co-driver Scott Sharp and their No. 1 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b/Honda. “We went back to how (the car) first rolled off the truck.”
Dalziel shared his last lap heroics that wrested the pole away from the visitflorida.com Racing Corvette DP of Richard Westbrook.
“There were some places I did things on that last lap that I don’t want to do again,” he said. “I’m glad the car is in one piece.”
Westbrook posted a best time of 1:55.487 (126.187 mph), good enough for second. The car, however, failed the stall test during post-qualifying technical inspection and had its time excluded. That moved the Prototype points-leading duo of Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa to second in the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP.
Sunday’s 2-hour, 45-minute race is scheduled to begin at 1:15 p.m. CT.
Road America has made somewhat of a habit of hosting close sports car races. Prior to the 2014 merger of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón and Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, the overall margin of victory for the last nine ALMS races at Road America averaged about one second. That scant margin comes in spite of Road America’s lap length and the duration of the races, which have ranged from 2 hours, 45 minutes to four hours.
The smallest overall winning margin – and the closest finish in ALMS history – was .083 seconds, registered by Guy Smith in 2012. The closest overall margin of victory at Road America for a Grand-Am series race occurred in 2001, when drivers Didier Theys, Mauro Baldi and Fredy Linehard won by 1.602 seconds.
Sunday’s race is likely to follow suit. The top cars in each class were separated by a second or less.