After a long day of practice and a shortened qualifying session Friday, Performance Tech Motorsports owns three of the top-10 starting positions for Round 9 of the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda on Saturday at Road America. The team struggled to find the best setups and get in a good groove for the long, high-speed track in Elkhart Lake. To make the situation worse, almost half of the 20-minute qualifying session was wiped out due to a red flag. But Performance Tech did what it does best: Perform. Rookie Hayden Duerson kicked it into gear by qualifying third.
“Qualifying went really well,” Duerson said. “We’ve been struggling with car setup this whole weekend, but we made some changes before qualifying that really paid off. We were very quick; we actually had pole up until the last lap when we got knocked off. I’m really looking forward to what we’ll be able to do in the race tomorrow.”
Hayden’s father, Craig Duerson, spent most of the first practice session in the pits but bounced back to qualifying eighth.
“Overall Performance Tech Motorsports pulled together really well for qualifying,” Duerson said. “We were struggling with setup during testing yesterday and practice this morning too. We all put our heads together though, and we came up with a package that was comfortable to drive and also had a good pace. I’m proud of Hayden for qualifying third. My qualifying efforts were aborted by a little incident, but overall I’m happy because the team showed that they don’t give up. I’m going to have a great car in the race tomorrow.”
Robert Alon qualified ninth.
“We changed setups almost every session leading up to qualifying,” Alon said. “But we finally honed in on a good one for the qualifying session. We didn’t have a lot of green flag time during the session, but we made the best of it. I feel like we have a good car for the race tomorrow, and I’m not too far back in the field. The big goal tomorrow is going to be to make as many passes as possible.”
Joel Janco found himself in 12th and fifth in Lites Masters.
“We had a pretty good qualifying session, despite being stopped by a red flag,” Janco said. “We were able to get five laps in, and we got in our fastest lap of the weekend during qualifying. I’m hoping that we have a clean race tomorrow and get a ton of track time.”
Jon Brownson suffered an engine problem and was unable to record a lap. He will start the race in 24th.
“Qualifying was short, and not so sweet for me today,” Brownson said. “I went out after the red flag was lifted, and immediately felt my engine turn off after I made it through Turn 1. I limped home to pit lane, but it was a blown engine. It was an unhappy end to the day, but if we can get a new engine in by tomorrow we’ll look forward to having lots of passing opportunities here at Road America, where I’ve won before.”
Despite the issues, Team Principal Brent O’Neill has confidence his team is back on the right track and ready for the 30-minute race Saturday.
“We weren’t so good the first session,” O’Neill said. “But the good thing about our whole crew and all the guys driving the cars, we just put our heads down and get back to where we need to be, and everyone improved throughout the day.
“Hayden made a couple of little mistakes and that’s OK, and he ended P3. We’ve struggled the last two days, but he has a good car and he and the rest of the guys are all going to have something for them tomorrow. It’s good. It was a good day today.”
The 30-minute Race 1 takes place at 10:40 a.m. Saturday, August 9, and the 45-minute Race 2 is scheduled for 7:55 a.m. Sunday, August 10. Follow live timing and scoring at scoring.imsa.com/prototype-lites/ and also follow the action live at @IMSALive on Twitter.
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