Austin Versteeg held off JDC Motorsports teammate Clark Toppe to win the pole during qualifying for the Mazda Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires series Thursday at Watkins Glen International.
Versteeg, from Sandy, Utah, turned his quickest lap of 1 minute, 43.729 seconds on the penultimate of his nine laps during the 20-minute session in the No. 7 JDC Motorsports entry. Toppe, from The Woodlands, Texas, fell just short of his teammate at 1:43.905 on his final lap in the No. 10 JDC Motorsports Élan DP02 chassis powered by a Mazda engine on Cooper Tires.
“The team has done a really, really good job,” Versteeg said. The first (practice) session was a bit shaky for us, but these guys at JDC Motorsports work their butts off. I can’t thank them enough for all they do.
“We made massive improvements from first practice to second practice and from second practice to qualifying. There’s nothing much I can say but thank you to all them. They do everything for me.”
Toppe leads Versteeg, 38-36, after two rounds. The teen teammates split victories at the opening event in mid-March at Sebring International Raceway, with Toppe winning Round 1 and Versteeg Round 2.
Their early-season dominance in the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA)-sanctioned Official Development Series has continued an impressive streak for Minnesota-based JDC Motorsports. The team has won 20 consecutive Prototype Lites races, dating back to August 2014.
Kyle Masson, from Windermere, Florida, qualified third overall Thursday at 1:44.692 in the No. 18 Performance Tech Motorsports entry. Max Hanratty, from Milwaukee, was fourth at 1:44.706 in the No. 30 Extreme Speed Motorsports entry.
Michal Chlumecky, from Windsor, Ontario, rounded out the top five and was the quickest Lites 1 Masters qualifier at 1:44.820 in the No. 31 Eurosport Racing car.
Jay Salmon, from Lynchburg, Virginia, was the quickest Lites 2 driver at 1:50.663 in the No. 46 ODU Engineering entry. This is his first start of the season.
Three rounds will take place on the historic 11-turn 3.4-mile circuit at this event, with two 30-minute races Friday.
Round 3 is scheduled for 9:05 a.m. (ET) Friday, followed by Round 4 at 2:30 p.m. A busy event for the series will finish with Round 5, a 45-minute race, starting at 8:05 a.m. Saturday.
For more information about Mazda Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires, visit http://www.imsa.com, follow hashtags #MazdaLites and #MRT24 @IMSA on Twitter or IMSA on Facebook.
Live timing: All on-track sessions at scoring.imsa.com and on the official IMSA App for iOS, Android and Windows
Twitter: Live text commentary from all sessions at @IMSALive
AUSTIN VERSTEEG (No. 7 JDC Motorsports, pole, Lites 1): “The team has done a really, really good job. The first session was a bit shaky for us, but these guys at JDC Motorsports work their butts off. I can’t thank them enough for all they do. We made massive improvements from first practice to second practice and from second practice to qualifying. There’s nothing much I can say but thank you to all them. They do everything for me. It’s good to start first heading out for qualifying, but on this track you get a pretty big tow going down the back straightaway. So you want to get gaps, make sure you have a gap in front of you and a gap behind you, and then we got the red flag. Sitting there was a little bit worrisome, but I knew if we went green, we would have to give it everything we had. I just knew I had to push with what I had and hope it was good enough. I’m really glad we got the lap out there. I want to thank the new sponsors I have onboard since the first round at Sebring: dEp Patch, Muscle Egg and Papa Pita bread. I can’t thank them enough for their support, and hopefully I can make them happy three times this week.”
MICHAL CHLUMECKY (No. 31 Eurosport Racing, pole, Lites 1 Masters): “The car just handled fantastic today. It was just properly planted, and I was able to get on the power mid-corners. I felt comfortable with the track. It was a little bit green this morning, but as the day progressed, there was a lot more grip. I worked on a few things in practice 2 and was able to put some of that stuff together for qualifying, and I was just happy to make the gains we did today. I felt good about that.”
JAY SALMON (No. 46 ODU Engineering, pole, Lites 2): (About returning to series with first start of season here): “It’s fantastic. It feels like a long time gone, and this place is really fast and intimidating, and it’s hard to get up to speed. Everybody is so quick, but that’s why we come here. I love it. I do better if everyone is going a lot faster than me, which means I get a lot of experience at that! It’s so fun. This is such an epic track. It’s really beautiful.”