The weather was incredible at Kansas Speedway for the SFP Grand Prix, the qualifying and practice in the afternoon/evening was nice change of pace. At first the course did not seem like it would be too demanding and I wondered if the layout would provide exciting racing. The very tight infield made it difficult to pass in most areas except turn 4 and off the banking into turn 1. Being a local guy from Kansas I was hoping this venue would provide good racing and exciting exchanges, I think the track delivered, but in person spectating requires choosing a good spot to take in the race as all spots are not created equal at this track. The night portion of the race also created a bit of excitement, there really is something about seeing headlights and glowing brake rotors that makes a night race unique.
This season seems as though it is the championship that nobody really wants to win, we are seeing veteran teams either make mistakes or just encounter dumb luck. This outing in the center of the country really has not done much to change that dynamic this year and some of the commentary below may bear that out. To start Memo Rojas led the field from the green after taking the pole position by setting the fasted time in Friday qualifying. Tension filled the air because starting 2nd and right next to Rojas was Gustavo Yacaman in the number 6,
The day just got worse for #2 Starworks car, the rear was a bit loose and with Popov still driving he spun between turn 3 and turn 4 backing the car into the wall damaging the left rear and tearing off the rear wing. Shortly thereafter in GT class the #31 Whelen Corvette had driveline issues, and brought out a caution. This caution was timely for some teams and allowed for cars to come to the pits and change drivers and do so just after the mandatory 30 minute driver minimum time threshold was met. Most of the DP cars pitted at this time except for the #01 Ganassi car which stayed out on track and got the drive by ultimately allowing them to get back on the lead lap. With a bit of strategy, the Ganassi team pulled the 01 to pit at the end of the caution and allowed them torepair the early damage to the nose of the car and changed drivers to allow Scott Pruett to take the wheel. A couple of the GT cars had an interesting paint exchange coming out of the pits when Patrick Long and Alex Tagliani could not agree on who should have led the GT field for the green flag, the drivers apparently thought a couple minor exchanges of paint would settle the argument. The #73 Park Place Porsche of Patrick Long and the #61 of Tagliani battled for the GT lead for several laps and were followed closely by the #69 FXDD Ferrari and #63 Ferrari and the #44 Flex Box Porsche. In GX class the two SkyActive Diesel Mazdas had the best of the Porsche Caymen for most of the race up to this point.
Some people may think that luck finally turned around for Wayne Taylor and his team, however this spectator and writer doesn’t think it had as much to do with dumb luck, but more to do with the fact that on the Thursday before the event I personally ran into Wayne Taylor and a few of his crew at a local coffee shop. I took the opportunity to shake the team owners hand and wish him and his team good luck over the racing weekend. I might be a little biased on the reason for the number 10 having such a strong run, it had to be my wishes that helped. All joking aside there is no doubt; the 10 car had a great run in Kansas. I also have to believe that Ganassi finishing in 2nd place had to be a much better finishing spot than what they expected after contact on the 1st lap.
I am not sure if we will see United Sports Car leverage this facility in years to come, I certainly hope so, and I know my choice will be up in the Car Club Corral because the scenery behind you was almost as good as what was on the track.