Penske Porsche’s Campbell leads front row lockout at Indianapolis

Porsche Penske Motorsport continued to show the preparation-fueled dominance evident so far this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, locking out the front row for Sunday’s Battle on the Bricks for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Matt Campbell led the qualifying to put the No. 7 Porsche 963 on pole with a 1m13.672s lap, an average of 119.18mph around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn circuit.

“A one-two for the team, obviously, it’s a big thing.” Campbell said. “It’s our home track more or less and we put in a lot of effort and miles here in testing and it’s really paid off, I think. Fantastic for that result, and now on to tomorrow, but great results so far. And I think tomorrow’s race will be really, really tough.”

Mathieu Jaminet fell 0.152s short of putting the No. 6 963 on pole, and will instead start on the outside of the front row alongside his teammate. Locking out the front row was no surprise given the way the team has been dominant at the boss’s race track, and Campbell put that down to the testing they’d been able to do at the facility.

“I’d say each time we’ve come here, the track’s been a little bit different with track conditions and weather and so forth. But certainly coming here as a package and as a group, we could really hit the ground running and knew exactly where we were when we started the weekend. And I think that’s really paid off. We’ve only had to really make small changes and tuning to the car for each of the sessions,” Campbell explained.

Tom Blomqvist put in some outstanding laps for Meyer Shank Racing to start the No. 60 Acura ARX-06 on the inside of the second row thanks to a 1m13.864s lap. Sebastien Bourdais will start the No. 01 Cadillac Racing V-Series.R alongside Blomqvist.

The pair of BMW M Team RLL M Hybrid V8s looked good in the morning session, but couldn’t maintain their position, and will start sixth (Philipp Eng in the No. 24) and seventh (Nick Yelloly in the No. 25), Ricky Taylor having qualified the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport Acura ahead of them in fifth.

Gar Robinson’s No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier LMP3 hammered into the tires at Turn 6 with about seven minutes having elapsed in the combined LMP2/LMP3 qualifying session, bringing out a red flag. The time ran out before the car could be recovered and the track cleared, but officials added sufficient time for the session to have 10 minutes total, the minimum amount for it to be considered an official qualifying session. Had they not, it would have been, ironically, Robinson on the LMP3 pole because he’s leading the points.

As it turns out, the extra time didn’t make a big difference; the two drivers who had set the fast time before the red flag had the fast time afterward as well. Ben Keating did improve with his extra flyer, but he was already on the LMP2 pole. His 1m17.950s in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA was 0.440s better than George Kurtz, who will start the No. 04 Crowdstrike by APR ORECA alongside Keating. The pole was Keating’s 13th in IMSA competition, moving him out of a tie to sole ownership of second on the all-time list, and two behind leader Ricky Taylor.

“Something I’ve been working hard on this whole year is to bring my tires up to temperature as quickly as I can because typically in qualifying, with either the P2 or the GTP class, the fast laps usually come at the very end because it takes such a long time to get your tires up to pressure. I’ve been working really hard on doing that safely without ruining the tires that I have to run in the race, and I think that was the difference today, really – especially with the red flag that we had,” Keating explained.

With Robinson out of qualifying, VP Racing SportsCar Challenge LMP3 points leader Bijoy Garg took the LMP3 pole in only his second WeatherTech Championship race. Garg pushed the No. 29 Jr III Racing Ligier to a 1m20.513s lap to take the pole ahead of Nolan Siegel in the other Jr III Racing Ligier. Those two had 0.469s between, them, and it was another 1.5s back to Orey Fidani in the No. 13 Sean Creech Motorsport Duqueine.

“It was a real team effort. We started decently far off – I didn’t think the car felt that good. But, you know, we’ve been making changes all throughout practice and especially between first and second practices, it felt like we made a massive step in the right direction. I knew we had a good car and it was just a matter of putting a lap together early and we did that. Really happy for the whole team especially to get a one-two.”

Madison Snow turned in yet another stellar qualifying performance, claiming not only the GTD pole, but the overall GT pole for the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing BMW M4 GT3. Snow was fastest in every sector to post a 1m23.075s lap (105.69mph) and put four GTD PRO cars between him and the next GTD competitor, the No. 32 Korthoff/Preston Motorsports Mercedes AMG GT3 qualified by Mikael Grenier. It was Snow’s 12th pole position in IMSA competition, temporarily putting him in a four-way tie for second all-time with James French, Keating and Jordan Taylor until Keating got his 13th a short time later.

“I think it’s special and it means a lot for the team,” said Snow. “It means a lot for me to see where we qualified and how we were able to improve from the practice sessions. The car honestly was perfect for us out there; I don’t think I’ve said that before. It did everything that I wanted it to do. And that was down to the Paul Miller Racing team to get everything set up how it was. As far as the race goes. I’ve definitely said this before: It’s awesome to have a gap to the class cars. It also makes me very nervous to have that caliber driver right behind me and especially a lot of them.”

After co-driver Patrick Pilet set the fast time for the morning session in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, Klaus Bachler echoed that performance by claiming the GTD PRO pole to start on the outside of the first row of GT cars. Bachler was 0.165s off Snow’s time at 1m23.140s.

“The team did a very good job,” declared Bachler, who with co-driver Patrick Pilet is trying to overtake Corvette Racing for second in the championship. “We struggled a bit the last weekend. We also got a BoP change, which is helping us. Definitely feels good to be on pole. It’s my second one. I think tomorrow will be a hard race with all the different classes here again, and you’ve seen in practice many things happen already. It’s good to be on pole, but tomorrow is what counts with the big points and as the championship also comes to an end.”

Jules Gounon improved on his final lap, but it wasn’t enough to surpass Bachler and the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes AMG will start on the inside of the second row as Gounon recorded a best time of 1m23.290s. Jack Hawksworth in the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 will start alongside Gounon.

Alex Riberas will start the No. 23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin GT3 on the inside of the third row, accompanied by Grenier, who recorded a 1m23.424s to qualify second in GTD, 0.233s quicker than Patrick Gallagher in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 that will start on the inside of row 4, Jordan Taylor in the GTD PRO No. 3 Corvette Racing C8.R alongside. Misha Goikhberg (No. 78 Forte Racing Powered by US RaceTronics Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo2) and Russell Ward (No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes AMG) were fourth and fifth in GTD.

Up Next: A 20-minute warmup session Sunday at 8 a.m. ET, ahead of a 1:10 p.m. start for the 2h40m race.


Story originally appeared on Racer