Commanding the start: Looking for advantages with front-row lockout

“We’re racing here at Detroit, it’s a short sprint race for us, just 100 minutes, and we’re on a narrow street circuit,” begins Nick Tandy, who scored the pole for today’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic in the No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsports 963 he’ll share with Mathieu Jaminet.

“So it makes the emphasis on qualifying even greater, of course. To have control of the pole position is mega for the start … but to have the front row to be able to control what’s happening into the first corner is a huge benefit for the team.”

Tandy’s teammate Dane Cameron will start alongside in the No. 7 963 he’ll hand over to Felipe Nasr. Teammates starting side-by side on the front row can be a huge advantage if executed correctly. Of course, Tandy hopes they execute so well that the race, frankly, isn’t very exciting.


“We’re obviously very much now looking forward to the race and hoping that it’s going to be a very boring affair for everyone outside. But that’s the way that it will make it the best race for us, of course.”

The PPM 963s weren’t the only front-row lockout in qualifying. The two Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports Z06 GT3.Rs will lead the GTD PRO field to the green, courtesy of Antonio Garcia’s pole lap in the No. 3, and Tommy Milner putting the No. 4 on the outside of the front row. The team achieved the same feat in the last outing at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Nicky Catsburg taking pole in the No.4 over Garcia. That one didn’t work out as intended, but Laguna Seca isn’t a narrow street circuit.

“It was definitely the first goal of the weekend,” declared Garcia. “We knew this track was going to be really tough to pass. So obviously to be up front and actually have Tommy beside me into Turn 1, actually, it’s kind of nice – not only to be all around (General Motors’ headquarters Renaissance Center) and have the both Corvettes on the front row.

“It’s definitely the best possible start we can have, and let’s see if we can finish what we didn’t at Laguna with the same one-two. We just have to run a cleaner run than the one we had there.”

Front-row sweeps are nice, but its hard to maintain the advantage throughout the race as traffic and pit stops come into play. And if the teams decide to split strategies between two cars, then it’s nearly impossible to keep them together and maintain the veneer of invincibility that two teammates leading a race provides.

If nothing else, a one-two qualifying is a great morale booster for the entire team. Both teams have major Detroit ties, too. The race is Roger Penske’s baby, conducted in the hometown of Penske Corporation. The race runs around GM’s headquarters, and Pratt Miller is not far away in New Hudson, Mich. As for building and maintaining momentum, Corvette Racing by PMM is looking to get the ball rolling with the first win for the Z06 GT3.R. PPM is a two-time winner so far in 2024, and the IndyCar Series side of the operation is coming off of massive success at the Indy 500.

“Detroit being one of Roger’s home events, let’s say the Penske Corporation, along with what’s going on with IndyCar … it’s a great thing,” said Tandy. “It’s following on from momentum that we’ve built as a team since the back end of last year across two championships with Porsche Penske Motorsport.

“Personally, it’s great to be the building on the momentum that we’ve got on the [No.] 6 side since since the win at Laguna Seca.”

Story originally appeared on Racer