By Stephen Cook
Drivers of the Grand-Am Road Racing series competed on Kansas Speedway’s new 2.37 mile road course for the first time on August 16 and 17. It was also the last time “Grand-Am” will compete in Kansas City; next year the series will be merged with American Le Mans (ALMS), creating a new league known as United SportsCar Racing.
In Saturday’s Rolex Sports Car Series race, Jordan Taylor and Max Angelelli won first place in the Daytona Prototypes (DP) class. The two drivers took turns piloting their car, beating the 13 other cars in the DP class. In addition, the drivers lead the championship in overall points.
In the Grand Touring class, Alessandro Balzan and Leh Keen took home first in their Ferrari 458. In the GX class, Joel Miller and Tristan Nunez drove their Mazda6 to victory.
The drivers of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge competed earlier in the day, with Matt Bell and John Edwards taking first in the Grand Sport class in their Camaro GS.R. Driving their Mazda Speed 3 in the Street Tuner class, Taylor Hacquard and Derek Jones were promoted to first place after Michael Valiante was penalized for manipulating the last restart.
The Lamborghini Super Trofeo series also had two races during the weekend, one under the lights on Friday with a second midday Saturday. Kevin Conway won the first race and Al Carter was the winner of the second.
Kansas Speedway, most familiar with NASCAR racing, incorporated a portion of the oval into the course, which allowed cars to reach their top speeds. In addition to the oval, the six-turn road course presented drivers with high speed areas followed by hard braking zones. The entrance and exit featured tight corners as well as a hairpin in the infield.
“I think the biggest thing is the oval is difficult, like Daytona that we go to is easy banking, you don’t even have to think about it. When you go through NASCAR three and four here, it’s actually a corner which is kind of fun for a driver,” said Jordan Taylor, driver of the #10 Corvette Daytona Prototype. “It’s really high speed going in turn one and once you get in the infield it’s nothing exciting, but it’s more technical than it looks on a track map. So for a driver it’s challenging, and that’s fun.”
In Saturday’s night race, the 500+ horsepower Daytona Prototype cars reached speeds of around 190 mph. Unlike the other classes, which feature modified production cars, Daytona Prototypes are purpose-built race cars.
Due to the merger with ALMS, Kansas Speedway is not guaranteed a spot on next year’s calendar. However, even if they aren’t added to the 2014 season schedule, track organizers say road racing may return to Kansas Speedway in the years to come.
For more information about Grand-Am road racing, visit grand-am.com
For more information about United SportsCar Racing, visit http://unitedsportscar.com/
Rolex Sports Car Series race results: http://www.grand-am.com/scheduleResults/results.aspx?eid=3487&sid=1
Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race results : http://www.grand-am.com/scheduleResults/results.aspx?eid=3488&sid=2
Contact Stephen Cook, editor-in-chief, at email@example.com.