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(Photo: Phil Allaway)

Antonio Garcia Shatters Class Record to Win Northeast Grand Prix Pole

Cool morning temperatures allowed records to fall Saturday (July 21) at Lime Rock Park.  Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia set a record lap of 106.653 mph to claim the overall pole for the Northeast Grand Prix.

“It was really, really good,” Garcia told Frontstretch after the session.  “In [the warm-up], I did a low 50[-second lap], so I knew I had to go at least that or better.  I knew [that] I’d have one or two laps max [since] this track is very abrasive on tires.  We did the right thing building up the tire pressures [beforehand].  I think I truly nailed that lap.”

To give you an idea of the overall speed, the pole time is only seven-tenths of a second slower than the overall pole for this race in 2015.  In that race, the former Prototype Challenge class was the top class on offer.

Garcia’s lap was one-sixth of a second faster than Porsche GT Team’s Laurens Vanthoor in the No. 912 Porsche.  Ford Chip Ganassi Racing IMSA’s Dirk Müller will start third in his Ford GT with Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin alongside.  Richard Westbrook in the second Ford GT will start fifth.

Patrick Pilet was fastest overall in practice on Friday in the No. 911.  Unfortunately, his troubles started before qualifying did.  In the 15 minute pre-qualifying warmup, Pilet slid off and hit the tires in Big Bend.  The car was not significantly damaged, but the team had to rush to get it fixed for qualifying.  During the session, Pilet qualified at the back of the GT Le Mans class, nine-tenths of a second off pole.

In GT Daytona, the rapid pace continued to show.   Patrick Long provided a highlight for Wright Motorsports when he claimed the GT Daytona pole with a lap of 103.055 mph.  For a team that has had no luck all year and wrecked on the formation lap at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January, every little bit helps.

Long’s lap, a new GT Daytona track record, was one-seventh of a second faster than 3GT Racing’s No. 14 Lexus driven by Dominik Baumann.  Teammate Jack Hawksworth got out late in the session and had the last five minutes to himself.  He was able to turn in the third fastest time.  Paul Miller Racing’s Bryan Sellers will start his Lamborghini fourth in class, while Scuderia Corsa’s Cooper MacNeil will start fifth.

IMSA WEATHERTECH SPORTSCAR CHAMPIONSHIP NORTHEAST GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING RESULTS

The Northeast Grand Prix is scheduled to go green at 3:10 p.m. EDT Saturday afternoon.  The race will be broadcast via tape delay on FOX Sports 1 starting at 4 p.m.  The race will air fully, but delayed by about 55 minutes.

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About Phil Allaway

Phil Allaway
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 Tony Stewart's Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions.

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