Meyer Shank continues Watkins Glen form, takes record Six Hour pole

Michael Levitt/Lumen

Meyer Shank continues Watkins Glen form, takes record Six Hour pole


Meyer Shank continues Watkins Glen form, takes record Six Hour pole


Tom Blomqvist, who has topped the time sheets in every session, set a new qualifying record as the Acuras filled the front row for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen. Blomqvist turned a 1m29.580s around the 3.4-mile, 11-turn Watkins Glen International circuit for an average speed of 136.64mph to take the pole for Meyer Shank Racing with Curb Agajanian and claim the 350 championship points. The time was quicker than his teammate’s track record from 2019, when Oliver Jarvis set a 1m29.639s lap for Mazda.

“The championship is so tight, every point counts,” Blomqvist said. “It’s a six-hour race, so you know a lot can happen but it definitely makes your life a lot easier starting at the front so that was definitely a focus of ours this weekend. Hopefully myself and Ollie can convert this pole position into another victory because it’s been a while since we’ve stepped on the top step of the podium.”

Wayne Taylor Racing’s Filipe Albuquerque was the only other driver in the 29s, 0.164s longer than Blomqvist but enough to start alongside and lock out the front row for Acura. Sebastien Bourdais was the quickest of the Cadillac drivers as Chip Ganassi Racing claimed the second row for the start of tomorrow’s seventh round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Bourdais’s 1m30.048s lap in the No. 01 was almost half a second off Blomquist and 0.194s better than teammate Earl Bamber. Olivier Pla in the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac and Tristan Vautier in the No. 5 JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac will start fifth and sixth. The No. 48 AXR Cadillac in the hands of Kamui Kobayashi never got up to speed in qualifying.

LMP2 qualifying could not have been any closer as PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports claimed the top two positions in the class. Steven Thomas and Ben Keating traded the pole a couple of times during the session, but Thomas ended up 0.001s shy of Keating’s 1m33.930s time in the No. 52 and will start second. The last time Keating was outqualified in an LMP2 car was for this race last year…by Thomas.

“That’s far and away the fastest lap I’ve ever done around Watkins Glen, and it’s a track that feels so good to do a really quick lap,” smiled Keating. “Last year, my qualifying lap was a 35.0s, so 1.1s quicker than last year. It’s just hard to imagine, because I remember how hard I was pushing last year. I’ve always had a really nice battle and rivalry with Stephen Thomas in the No. 11 car – last year they were their own team; this year they’re our teammates. Obviously I love being on the pole. This is a place that it’s pretty hard to follow, so I think it’s a big advantage to start up front. I think it’ll cause us to give up less time as we get racing.”

Connor De Phillippi claimed the first GTD PRO pole for BMW M Team RLL, pushing the No. 25 M4 GT3 to a 1m44.755s lap (116.844mph), just quicker than Ross Gunn in the No. 23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage, who fell 0.048s shy of grabbing the pole. Those two will make up the front row for the GT cars.

Connor De Phillippi, John Edwards, Augusto Farfus. No. 25 BMW M Team RLL. Jake Galstad

“It was nice to finally get a pole for the team with the new car,” De Phillippi said. “We’ve been close a couple times this year, but I’m really excited to get the car up front. We made some good changes from practice to qualifying and I think the big question mark is how it will be on the long run for the race. It’s always the main factor and that’s what wins you these races — not really the peak lap time. So that’s kind of a question mark for us at least but certainly starting first is the where you want to be for the race.”

Stevan McAleer will start on the inside of the second row, the first of the GTD cars and his first GTD pole. With his 1m45.077s lap in the No. 32 Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes AMG, he put a couple of GTD PRO cars between him and his nearest GTD competitor, Richard Heistand in the No. 12 VasserSullivan Lexus RC F GT3. Davide Rigon, who looked for a while like had a good shot at pole, was the first of those GTD PRO cars, the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 that he will start outside the second row. Ben Barnicoat was fifth overall and second in GTD in the No. 14 VasserSullivan Lexus RC F. Five different marques made up the top five GTD cars.

“Really excited to get my first pole position. This track’s pretty hard to pass on especially when you’re around cars that have similar speed,” McAleer explained. “So getting up front…yeah, it’s a six-hour race — there’s going to be a lot changing in the pits and stuff but, you know, we’re in a good spot. We led a couple of practice sessions as well, so the Mercedes is clearly fast around here. Mike Skeen and Dirk Muller are my teammates, so I think there’s no weak link. We’ll both try and execute tomorrow.”

Robby Foley was third in GTD in the No. 96 Turner Motorsports BMW M4 GT3, seventh among all the GTD cars. Mathieu Jaminet put the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R in fifth in GTD PRO, while Russell Ward (Winward Racing Mercedes AMG) and Madison Snow (Paul Miller Racing BMW M4) completed the top five in GTD. Snow was the last driver within a second of De Phillippi’s time.

Corvette Racing has struggled this weekend with its car reconfigured to GTD, with Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor having their first outing in it since racing the GTE version at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and Taylor was 14th of the GT cars, sixth in GTD Pro. The two cars involved in an incident in this morning’s practice — the No. 99 Team Hardpoint Porsche and the No. 66 Gradient Racing Acura — did not participate in qualifying, but both teams expect to have their cars ready for warmup on Sunday morning.

Nico Varrone put the No. 40 FastMD Racing Duqueine on the LMP3 pole with a 1m40.028s, with the No. 58 MLT Motorsports Ligier qualifying second courtesy of Josh Sarchet, who turned a time just outside of half a second behind

Jarett Andretti had been third quickest in the No. 36 Andretti Autosport Ligier when he touched the wall at the exit of Turn 11, damaged his suspension and came to a stop in Turn 1, bringing a halt to LMP3 qualifying just after the session became official with 10 minutes of green flag running. For causing a red flag, Andretti lost his two fastest laps, but it only dropped him to fourth behind Jon Bennett in the No. 54 CORE Autosport Ligier.

Up Next: Warmup at 8:00 a.m. Eastern, followed by the start of the Sahlen’s Six Hous of the Glen at 10:40 a.m.