WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – An opportune pit stop for Action Express Racing saw Felipe Nasr get into the Whelen-sponsored Cadillac in place of Pipo Derani just before a full-course caution flew. Shortly afterwards, lightning caused a red flag. Immediately afterwards, Nasr got the lead in a round of pit stops and held on to win the WeatherTech 240 at the Glen Friday evening (July 2).
“When we started the race, we knew we had to do something different in order to beat the Acuras,” Derani said during the post-race press conference. “Coming in early was potentially in the plans, but in those situations, you never really know if it’s going to play out your way.”
Wayne Taylor Racing’s Ricky Taylor led the field to green under sunny skies, but it did not take long for trouble to erupt. Contact in the first turn between Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kevin Magnussen and Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian’s Olivier Pla sent Pla spinning. Pla did not hit anything and quickly resumed, but not before losing a bunch of time.
Mazda’s Harry Tincknell drove straight up from fifth on the grid to second on the first lap. He then stalked Taylor before attempting to make a move while going through lapped traffic. There was nearly contact between the two leaders in the Esses at one point.
Meanwhile, Derani and Action Express Racing had gone off-strategy, pitting on lap 12 just 19 minutes into the race. Derani ended up in the overall lead after both Taylor and Tincknell made their first stops 12 laps later.
The move that put Action Express Racing up front later on when they made their second stop to put Nasr in the car. Shortly after that stop was made, GRT Grasser Racing Team’s Misha Goikhberg stalled his Lamborghini Huracan GT3 at the Inner Loop to bring out the race’s first full-course caution.
During the yellow, heavy rains started falling. That heavy rain was accompanied by lightning and very few series are willing to take a chance on that. As a result, the race was red-flagged for nearly 46 minutes waiting for the electrical storm to move out.
Once the red flag was lifted, everyone stopped for tires and fuel. Despite the track still being damp in areas, everyone went for slicks. Since Nasr had pitted only a couple of laps before the caution came out, his pit stop was much shorter than everyone else. That allowed the No. 31 Cadillac to jump from fourth to the lead.
From the stop, getting to the end on fuel was questionable, but another quick yellow for debris ended those worries. Once the race was truly back underway, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Renger van der Zande quickly made his way back up the order from fifth to second. Over the final 20 minutes of the race, van der Zande tried to close in on Nasr, but was never able to get all the way there as Nasr and Derani took the win.
Nasr and Derani’s margin of victory was 1.473 seconds over van der Zande and Magnussen. Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque were third in their Acura after making a late pass of JDC-Miller MotorSports’ Loic Duval and Tristan Vautier. Pla and Dane Cameron ended up fifth.
The race was ultimately a fairly easy romp for PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports. Keating and Mikkel Jensen led all but one lap in the race, and that was due to Keating making his first pit stop 40 minutes into the race.
The final stint saw Jensen make a late pit stop with 18 minutes to go. Despite that, Jensen and Keating easily held on to win. Their margin of victory was 21.839 seconds over WIN Autosport’s Thomas and Tristan Nunez.
LMP3 saw Riley Motorsports once again take a one-two finish with their Ligier JS P320s, but it was far from easy.
Performance Tech Motorsports’ Mateo Llarena started from pole, but quickly lost his advantage to Andretti Autosport’s Jarett Andretti. Andretti was able to hold on to the advantage until the first pit stop, when Oliver Askew took over.
The round of stops immediately after the red flag saw Riley Motorsports’ Felipe Fraga win the race off pit road, followed by Performance Tech Motorsports’ Rasmus Lindh. Andretti Autosport had a terrible stop and dropped all the way to fifth.
Shortly after the restart, Dylan Murry was able to get past Lindh for second. Once there, the two drivers attempted to run away from the rest of the class.
CORE autosport’s Colin Braun attempted to be a spoiler. Late in the race, Braun moved up to third in class and began to threaten the Riley Motorsports teammates. In addition, Murry started to threaten Fraga.
Ultimately, Braun ran out of time as Fraga and Gar Robinson brought home their second straight victory. Murry and Jim Cox were just a quarter of a second back in second, while Braun and Jon Bennett were third, just under a second back. Andretti and Askew were fourth, while Llarena and Lindh had to settle for fifth.
GT Le Mans saw Corvette Racing’s Jordan Taylor and Nick Tandy battle each other early on. Jordan started from the pole, but Tandy took the lead on lap 7. From there, Tandy was able to hold onto the advantage until the caution flew just as the two Corvettes were making their first stop.
Antonio Garcia was able to snatch the lead from Tommy Milner on the restart after the red flag. From there, Garcia opened a small gap on the No. 4 and held on to take his and Jordan Taylor’s third win of the year. The margin of victory was 1.895 seconds over Milner and Tandy. WeatherTech Racing’s Matt Campbell and Cooper MacNeil ended up a lap down in third after a late penalty.
GT Daytona saw Paul Miller Racing’s Madison Snow get passed for the lead on the first lap by Vasser Sullivan’s Frankie Montecalvo. CarBahn Motorsports with Peregrine Racing’s Richard Heistand followed into second, while Snow settled into third.
Further back, Aaron Telitz ran into some issues with a LMP2 car. Contact loosened up the left-front fender on the No. 14 Lexus. Despite this, Telitz was able to get up to fourth in class prior to the red flag.
On the restart immediately after the red flag, part of the left-front fender blew off the No. 14 with Jack Hawksworth at the wheel to draw a caution. The result of the fender flying off was that Hawksworth was down approximately seven mph at the top end.
Despite being down on speed, Hawksworth was able to get past both Jeff Westphal‘s Audi and teammate Zach Veach to take the lead almost immediately after the final restart. From there, Hawksworth ran his damaged car as hard as he could to take his and Telitz’s first win of 2021.
Hawksworth and Veach ended up seven-tenths of a second ahead of Montecalvo and Veach. The Heart of Racing’s Roman DeAngelis and Ross Gunn were third in their Aston Martin, followed by Heistand and Westphal. Alegra Motorsports’ Michael de Quesada and Daniel Morad were fifth in their Mercedes.
The next round for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut on July 17. That race is a GT-only event. The event will be streamed live on NBC Sports’ TrackPass at 3:10 p.m. ET. Tape-delayed coverage of the race will air the same day at 5:30 p.m. on NBCSN.