Pole winner #3 Corvette Racing Corvette C8.R, GTLM:  Jordan Taylor

T and T Are Dynamite: Taylor, Telitz Each Collect Second Straight Pole of Season


By Mark Robinson

Jordan Taylor and Aaron Telitz each made it back-to-back IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship pole positions in qualifying today on the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL. It remains to be seen if the GT drivers can turn it into consecutive race wins from the pole tonight.

Taylor put the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C8.R on the overall pole for the MOTUL 100% Synthetic Grand Prix in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) qualifying session on the 10-turn, 2.32-mile road course. In GT Daytona (GTD) qualifying that preceded, Telitz pushed the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 to the Motul Pole Award for his class.

The achievements marked the third pole position this season for each driver and second in a row, following the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio two weeks ago. Both cars went on to earn class victories in the race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Sept. 27.

Taylor laid down the best lap of one minute, 14.278 seconds (112.442 mph) with just more than a minute remaining in a disjointed GTLM session that included a red flag after the No. 912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR-19 made wall contact exiting the infield portion of the circuit that uses nearly all of the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval.

Taylor’s effort was just enough to hold off Fred Makowiecki, who qualified was 0.056 seconds back in the No. 911 Porsche.

"It was a stressful session," Taylor admitted. "I think everyone was kind of waiting, knowing that it was only going to take a couple of laps to really maximize the tires and then you have a small drop-off.

"Then the red flag came out on our first timed lap, so it was very poor timing for us. … I think no one really knew what they had going back out. I think our car performed really well, the car really came alive. It’s been good all weekend, no matter if it’s dry or wet. Whatever the race brings tonight, we should be in good shape."

Taylor and co-driver Antonio Garcia are looking to expand their 17-point lead in tonight’s race (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN) over teammates Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner in the No. 4 Corvette. Bruno Spengler and Connor De Phillippi, driving the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE, qualified third and sit third in the GTLM standings, 22 points in arrears of the No. 3 Corvette.

Motul Pole Award winner #14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC-F GT3, GTD: Aaron TelitzTelitz won the GTD pole with a harrowing final lap of 1:17.954 (107.139 mph) that included a brush with the outside wall as he crossed the finish line. Regardless, it held up by 0.123 seconds over Robby Foley in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3.

As in GTLM qualifying, the GTD session included a red flag when the No. 57 Heinricher Racing with MSR Curb-Agajanian Acura NSX GT3 clipped the wall and sustained damage.

"That was the toughest qualifying session I’ve had in a while with that red flag coming out halfway through and then having to go back out and try to get the Michelin tires to turn back on there," Telitz said. "I pushed as hard as I could with all we had. I even put some love stripes down the right side of the car coming down to the checkered flag on the last lap to get pole."

Telitz trails No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura drivers Mario Farnbacher and Matt McMurry by three points in the GTD standings. Jack Hawksworth, teammate of Telitz in the No. 14, is five points behind the No. 86 duo.

The forecast is calling for a 50 percent chance of rain tonight. It adds to the uncertainty of a race that is already unusual because it’s the shortest on the schedule (100 minutes), the first IMSA race in Charlotte in 20 years and first time ever on the current ROVAL configuration.

"If it’s dry, it’s going to really come down to strategy and pit stops," Telitz said. "Passing on track is going to be tough if it’s a dry race. If Mother Nature throws us a curveball and it’s wet, I think it’s wide open.

"Either way, it’s going to put on a show."

#911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR – 19, GTLM: Nick Tandy, Fred Makowiecki

Bamber, Tandy Eager to See NASCAR Races in Person

In addition to their own race weekend, some WeatherTech Championship drivers are relishing the rare opportunity to see a pair of NASCAR races up close this weekend as IMSA shares the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL weekend. The Xfinity race precedes the MOTUL 100% Synthetic Grand Prix on Saturday, with the NASCAR Cup Series set for Sunday afternoon.

Porsche GT Team drivers Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy were especially keen to take in what they could of the Xfinity race from the infield and play fan for the Cup Series race.

"I think it’s going to be a really cool event. To join them on the support card is really, really cool," Bamber said. "We’ll have the best seats in the house that you’re going to get, especially for the Xfinity race, and I think we’re all trying to get into the (Cup) race on Sunday to watch from the grandstand."

Tandy was excited to witness a pair of NASCAR playoff elimination races in person.

"It’s a playoff race, the end of the group of 12, so it’s a big race for the series," he said. "To see the haulers, to see the cars, to hear the cars on track, it’s something we’re all looking forward to.

"I think the last race I watched from a fan perspective was Indy in 2014, which was the last time I think that IMSA shared a weekend with NASCAR. … It’s something different and we’re looking forward to it."

They’re also looking forward to showing their road-course creds in the WeatherTech Championship race. Bamber, who raced in the Cup Series race on the Daytona International Speedway road circuit in August, savored over the thought that Cup is expanding to six road-course events next season. He’s looking at his race performance tonight as an audition for future NASCAR opportunities.

"I’m sure for all of us it’s going to be quite a good spot to showcase what we can do," he said.