Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mid Ohio ALMS Win goes to de Ferran; Briscoe on IRL Pole

Gil de Ferran followed up his retirement announcement with a dominating win at Mid Ohio today in the P1 class with co-driver Simon Pagenaud. The 66 Acura machine jumped into the lead from the start and while the similar Patron sponsored Acura piloted by Scott Sharp and David Brabham gave chase all afternoon, they were no match for the de Ferran team. Acura completed a sweep of the top three spots on the track by taking the P2 class win as well, as Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz brought the Lowe's car home unscratched. I suppose this was fitting in the "Acura Sports Car Challenge."

It was a busy day at Mid Ohio with cars on the track shortly after 8 a.m. past 6:45 p.m. when I left. The Indy Lights series made their first appearance on the track early in the day and it rained during the last 20 minutes of the IRL practice session which follwed the Lights. That meant the ALMS cars had a wet track for their final warm-up session and the Lights had a drying track to contend with, so tire changes and dropping lap times marked the Lights qualifying. By the time the IRL qualifying began, the track was fully dry, and it was fun to watch the knockout qualifying as teams went from the "blacks" to the "reds" optional tires to set faster and faster times as the session went on. Ryan Briscoe took pole from the vastly improved Dale Coyne Racing team and its driver Justin Wilson who will start second. Briscoe's IRL pole time was about two mph quicker than the ALMS P1 pole it has been extremely interesting to see how each series attacks this undulating road course.

Sunday should be a lot of fun as there are still two races to cover with the Lights going off first in the morning and the Indycars following in the early afternoon. I've walked at least five miles today trying to hit all the angles I could think of, so tomorrow will likely involve more of the same. Passing will be difficult for the IRL cars, even with the push-to-pass feature in play, so it may come down to pit work and track position at the front. If Wilson can get the jump on Briscoe at the start, that could set the tone for the race.

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