Cadillac DPi-V.Rs have won the first two IMSA races of the season, and its teams are all now in Southern California, readying for Long Beach and looking for a third win in as many IMSA WeatherTech Championship races.
The 100-minute-long Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix is a very different challenge for all of the IMSA regulars who opened the year at the Daytona 24 Hour then followed up with 12 hours of Sebring.
In the much shorter Long Beach race, the challenge is the track itself – a concrete-wall-lined 1.968, 11-turn temporary street circuit that demands complete focus and leaves no margin for error.
Heading west, the Wayne Taylor Racing team of Jordan Taylor and Renger Van Der Zande are in a five-way tie for the IMSA DPi points lead on the strength of their Daytona win and Sebring runner-up finish. This team has a solid history at Long Beach, and the Taylor/Van Der Zande driver pair come into the race with pit box choice and momentum.
“Long Beach is always an intense race, and a big change of pace from the first two races of the year,” Taylor said. “Daytona and Sebring are all about survival for the first portion of the race, and then you go racing in the last few hours. Long Beach is an all-out sprint race and street fight from start to finish. There’s no time to hang around and no reason to race cautiously.
“Our first trip to Long Beach was when we announced our partnership with Konica Minolta, and we were able to stand on the podium. Then, winning the next three years was obviously great. The 2017 race was especially exciting [as it came down] down to the last few minutes.
“Last year we had a tough race, but it was also a fun battle with [my brother] Ricky over the last spot on the podium.
“It’s always a nice feeling when you go into a race as the points leader,” Taylor continued. “With track position being so important, having the first pit stall can make or break your race in the pit stop cycles. With how competitive the series is, any little advantage you can get goes a long way.”