- 06 June 2014
Alton, VA – The Atlantic Championship Series had its VIRginia International Raceway debut Friday June 6, on a newly paved track. As the day ended it was Polestar’s Keith Grant at the top of the time sheets in the afternoon practice session. Grant is still looking for his first win on the season while Jimmy Simpson and Daniel Burkett, who had an up-and-down day, followed on the time sheets.
Grant has been quietly and consistently been gaining points and positions throughout the season in his Polestar Motor Racing Swift 016. Grant was third quick in practice one, and then set a faster time in session two than Simpson had in the morning session, with a 1:43.091.
Grant and Simpson both had strong showings during practice sessions on Friday at VIR. This combined with four time race winner, Burkett’s, top five times with mechanical issues, could become quite a tight competition for pole position during Saturday’s qualifying session. Burkett has three pole positions under his belt this season, Simpson has none, and Grant is still seeking to grab one.
Season Atlantic Championship Series star, K-Hill Motorsports’ Burkett, had some technical issues with his Swift 016, with smoke billowing out of the engine compartment and dumping oil on the track. It appeared Burkett wouldn’t make the second practice session to the severity of mechanical issue.
However, halfway through the session he rolled onto the track. Within one lap around the track, smoke was reported to be coming from the spot as it had in the morning session. Once again, the young Canadian driver, was able to set a fast lap putting him right behind Keith Grant and Simpson, before retiring to the paddock. Despite those serious mechanical issues he bounced back for a top three time in the afternoon session.
Despite the fact that the series has not run at this track previously, many of the drivers have run here in other events. The SCCA Majors race in April at VIR had Atlantic driver, Conner Kearby, with the fastest lap of 1:45.17. That lap was set after the track had been repaved, however based on times from Atlantic Championship Series practices today, the track has become faster.
In the first practice session there were eight Atlantic drivers who laid down faster times than Kearby’s Major’s time from earlier this season, Kearby being one of them. Simpson driving his Atlantic Creations Swift 016, set the quickest lap in morning practice, a 1:43.215. The fastest time set by a driver of an Atlantic Challenge car, was that of Bruce Crockett, with a 1:46.542 in a Swift 014.
The rest of the Atlantic drivers continuously laid down lap times within a very close range. In the morning session there were seven drivers within one tenth of a second of each other. The afternoon session had slower times overall, yet driver’s lap times remained close together. The small intervals between drivers seen in practice should help the drivers to stay bunched close together and have a very competitive race on Saturday.
Qualifying for race one starts at 10:35 local time on Saturday June 7, followed by race one later in the afternoon at 3:15. Qualifying session number two and race two take place on Sunday.