DETROIT (1 June, 2018) – An abbreviated qualifying session that included an unfortunate red flag and unclear timing in the last few moments conspired to prevent the Spirit of Daytona Racing team from getting a clean lap for their No. 90 Cadillac DPi-V.R in qualifying for tomorrow’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at the Detroit Grand Prix Presented by Lear.
The team hit the Detroit pavement running through two practice sessions on Friday, quickly getting back up to speed despite missing the past two IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship events. Drivers Tristan Vautier and Matt McMurry made the most of 200 minutes of practice with 88 laps to dial in the balance and grip level on the Cadillac DPi-V.R.
McMurry took the wheel in qualifying, navigating the 2.35-mile circuit situated on the 982-acre Belle Isle State Park. The veteran Vautier helped coach the 20-year-old McMurry, competing on his first street course since he ran the open-wheel USF2000 series in 2013.
Weather in the area had halted on-track activity earlier in the afternoon, reducing the Prototype class qualifying session to 12 minutes. But shortly after the session began, a car tagged the wall and scattered debris, causing a red flag. With 10 minutes of green flag running time guaranteed, teams watched the clock to make sure they had enough time for a clear lap. As the green flag came back out with just enough time for one quick lap, McMurry did the best he could to set a fast time. But the checkered flag did not come out as time was suddenly added to the clock. The Arizona native was unable to shake traffic and had to settle for a time of 1:24.688 – good enough for 12th position in the starting field but leaving the team understandably upset with the outcome.
“It was a mess,” said McMurry. “I never got a clean lap. We got one quick lap early in the session, then someone crashed and caused a red. We wanted to stay in the pits when the green came back out, in order to get a gap in traffic, but we thought we had to go out right away because we only had one more lap, since the time remaining was short. So we had to go out with the string of cars and stay somewhat close to them – but then they gave us another lap anyway. We’ll have to really push hard to get through as many cars as possible tomorrow, but it’s a short race, so there’s not much time. This is my first street track in a while, but I’m getting up to speed quickly. It’s a fun track, but a difficult one. Tristan has been a huge help to me, as has the time on the simulator, learning the ins and outs of this place.”
“It’s not normal, what happened,” said Vautier. “The monitors showed three different sets of information in the final minute of the session. It changed the way Matt managed his last few laps – if he had known there was another lap at the end, he could have backed off and gotten a gap to traffic. It’s frustrating, because we had a car that could have been much higher. But that’s behind us now, and now we focus on the race. It’s a difficult track to pass on, so we are going to have to be creative and aggressive tomorrow, and we’ll see what happens.”
“I don’t know what went down with the timing, but it is what it is,” said team owner Troy Flis. “We’re back to racing and we have to figure out the track better, make some changes before the race and help the car. It will be a challenge to come from the back, but we’ll look at strategy and see what we can do to get to the front and get on the podium. Matt and Tristan have done an impressive job this year, along with Cadillac, so we’ll give the guys a good race car tomorrow and take it from there.”
The 100-minute Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at the Detroit Grand Prix will be broadcast live at 12:30 p.m. Saturday on FS2 and IMSA.tv.