Corvette Tops Ford In Glen GT Qualifying

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Corvette Tops Ford In Glen GT Qualifying
Antonio Garcia took Corvette Racing to a pole in GT Le Mans on Saturday at Watkins Glen Int'l. (Dennis Bicksler photo)

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – If Saturday’s qualifying session for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen Int’l is any indication, the race in the GT Le Mans class Sunday may come down to a good, old-fashioned battle between Corvette and Ford.

Throughout the 15-minute session, the top spot on the leaderboard switched hands a remarkable eight times, with the car in every occasion coming from the Corvette Racing or Ford Chip Ganassi Racing camps.

When all was said it done, however, it was the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia who topped the No. 67 Ford GT of Richard Westbrook by 0.317 seconds for Corvette Racing’s first pole of the season.

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Garcia and Westbrook swapped the lead five times between the two of them in the final eight minutes, as lap times continued to fall throughout the session before Garcia landed the knockout punch with a lap of one minute, 40.799 seconds (121.429 mph).

“You always need to be careful around Richard, because he is always really fast,” said Garcia. “The guys did a really good job telling me what he was doing and everything. That gave me the opportunity the first time to cool down and then I could go again because I had more, as I showed on the last lap.

“I’m really happy for Chevrolet. Finally, we got something that is good, so hopefully it’s something for turning around tomorrow and starting to win races again.”

A win tomorrow for Garcia and his co-driver Jan Magnussen would be an historic one for Corvette Racing. The team has long been in search of its 100th IMSA victory, scoring win No. 99 in April 2018 at Long Beach.

Garcia and Magnussen’s winless streak dates back even further to VIRginia International Raceway in August 2017, but remarkable consistency for the No. 3 team has led the duo to back-to-back GTLM class championships. So far this year, Garcia and Magnussen sit second in points with three consecutive podium finishes and back-to-back runner-up finishes.

Another Corvette C7.R, the No. 4 of Tommy Milner, rounded out the top three with a lap of 1:41.291 (120.839 mph), just short of Westbrook’s lap of 1:41.116 (121.049 mph).

The No. 24 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE of John Edwards broke up the Chevrolet/Ford party by qualifying fourth, one spot ahead of Joey Hand’s No. 66 Ford GT in fifth.

Meanwhile, leading the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona point standings with co-driver Mario Farnbacher, Trent Hindman found another top position to take – the class pole for Sunday’s Six Hour of The Glen.

In Saturday’s GTD qualifying session, Hindman drove the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 to the top of the leaderboard, earning the Motul Pole Award with a time of 1:44.978 (116.595 MPH). It’s his second Motul Pole Award of the year.

“To come here and pay these guys back for their efforts, feels really good,” said Hindman, who with Farnbacher will be joined by endurance racer Justin Marks. “But they deserve all the credit on this one. It was a tough couple weeks to get things turned around for this event. There’s still plenty that needs to be done tomorrow.

“It’s a long race, but qualifying up front is certainly very important for us. The Acura really loves clean air. Whether it’s wet or dry, it doesn’t really matter. But being out front, unobstructed is great for us. We’re going to try and take full advantage of that. It’s a really good result in qualifying.”

One thing Hindman hasn’t done yet is win, despite having a top-10 finish in each of his nine WeatherTech Championship GTD starts. He has four runner-up finishes, including the class’ most recent WeatherTech Championship race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

“That’s like the biggest thing right now,” said Hindman. “We’ve been so close and even in Daytona and Sebring we’ve been quick, but had some horrible luck fall in our way. So unfortunately, we couldn’t capitalize on the speed that we had. Every race we come out, we’re always shooting for a win.

“There’s no event where we’re ever trying to take a back-seat approach. It’s just a matter of how everything really shakes out tomorrow. But pole position is where we want to be starting, it’s a step in the right direction.”

Making it an all-Acura, all-Meyer Shank Racing front row was Christina Nielsen in the No. 57 Heinricher Racing with Meyer Shank Racing Acura.

Nielsen jumped to second in the final three minutes of the 15-minute qualifying session with a time of 1:45.295 (116.244 MPH). Nielsen will co-drive with Katherine Legge and Bia Figueiredo.