Long Beach, Ca. (11 April 2014) – Racing for the first time on the 2.0-mile temporary street circuit that has served as a cornerstone of American automotive passion for 40 years, Visit Florida Racing will look to convert a strong qualifying spot into a podium result after the team scored sixth on the grid for Saturday’s Patron Showcase at the Long Beach Grand Prix.
Michael Valiante notched a 1:15.952-second lap with the No. 90 VISITFLORDIDA.com Corvette DP that carries new branding from Kidz1stFund (www.kidz1stfund.com) and that Valiante will share with Richard Westbrook on Saturday.
The 100-minute race, which marks round three of the 2014 IMSA Tudor United Sports Car Championship, is the first sprint race of the year after Visit Florida Racing opened the season with the “36 Hours of Florida,” earning hard-fought finishes and precious championship points in both the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring.
Making the first visit of a two-race West Coast swing (the Continental Tire Sports Car Festival will be staged at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on May 4th), the team got acquainted with the track in an early-morning practice session on the seaside circuit. A long break through the day as the IndyCar and support series took to the track for practice set the stage for a flurry of action on Friday afternoon. A brief practice session preceded the 15-minute qualifying.
“It was a big difference between even the final practice and the qualifying session, the car gained quite a bit of grip,” said Valiante, who won on the track in his open wheel days. “I might have left a tenth on the table, but overall the car is a pretty good race car. I think we’ll work on a few things and hopefully be good tomorrow. It could be tough-this place is all about track position but we’ll see what happens.”
“It was decent, but we are just a little bit off, so we need to keep digging,” said team owner Troy Flis. “It’s just so competitive, if you are missing a half second, you are way in the back. The car is ok, we had a little bit of a gearbox gremlin to sort out. Hopefully we can be in there and race well tomorrow. We don’t have the pace that the turbo cars have right now. But we just need to stay in the hunt. It’s a street course, so that can make things rough out there and we just need to keep the big picture in mind.”
The green flag will drop on the Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase Saturday April 12th at 6:10 PM (ET). The 100-minute race will be televised live on FOX Sports 1 starting at 6:00 PM (ET). MRN Radio will also carry live coverage of the event.
Live timing and scoring can be followed at www.scoring.imsa.com.